I love my church. I always have, but it’s different now. See, I was a Pastor for nearly twenty years and served three different churches during that time. I actually served as Sr Pastor of my own church, which grew out of my living room to become a megachurch, and everyone expected me to love my church, and I did! But these there are two categories of people in the church: Those paid to be good; and the good for nothing! I used to be paid to be good! These days…I am good for nothing! These days I serve in my church as a volunteer. I lead a small group. I tell my own pastors in my church that I feel like one of my chief roles here is to be the CEO (Chief Encouragement Officer) for my pastors, because I uniquely understand the burden and pressures they face on a weekly basis.
My church happens to be one of the fastest growing churches in human history. God is at work here. Thousands and thousands of lives are being changed here. Don’t get me wrong. My church is not perfect. No church is. Because I was a pastor of a church for a long time, I consistently see things that I think could potentially improve, or be more efficient or effective. That’s how pastors tend to think! However, God has shown me that this thought process is actually a trap for me. If the evil one can get me focused on what’s wrong with my church, he has me right where he wants me! There’s nothing wrong with desiring to be be excellent at everything we do, but sometimes our incessant desire for “excellence” in the western church can become perfectionism in disguise and steal our joy. The same is true for you, especially if you are the pastor!
I do love the the commitment to detail displayed at my church. Our church lives with the realization that every week someone is going to give the church one more shot, and we want to be ready. Everything matters here: what happens on the stage, off the stage, the technology we utilize, the way we communicate with insiders and outsiders, is all done with excellence, without trying to be too slick. We are committed to discipleship and generosity here. The pastor practices what he preaches. He is a man of God and a world-class, phenomenal leader, but don’t expect him to tweet that, or bring attention to himself in any way. He points everything upward. He takes no credit and accepts any blame. He doesn’t claim to be perfect and he is consistently, appropriately vulnerable about his weaknesses and weak moments. That’s what real leaders do. Appropriate vulnerability is attractive to a watching world. Pastors, you don’t lose people by being vulnerable. You lose people when you seem disingenuous, unattainable, and untouchable!
Our music is well done here, and our musicians are all so gifted. It’s not easy to get on the stage at our church. Your character and your gifts must match the stage here. I appreciate that so much!
Our church is not just building our kingdom here. We are committed to multiplication. We are sending tons of people out for new churches and new sites. We are raising up church planters and hiring most of our staff from within. We have started a college that is training and sending out thousands of people to serve in vocational ministry in other places. My wife and I lead one of the small groups for millennials in ministry training. It’s the highlight of my week!
I love alot and I could boast about a lot of things my church does. Frankly, most of what we do, other churches are doing: We sing, we serve, we teach, we give, we baptize, and we multiply. I love it all, but frankly, none of that is really new. However, above everything I love about my church, there is one thing above all others that I love the most. There’s one primary reason I am willing to plant my life here and place myself under spiritual authority here.
The primary reason I love my church is the fact that God speaks to me here.
God speaks to me through the teaching. God speaks to me through the men and women in leadership. God speaks to me through the people. God speaks to me through the worship. We are sensitive to new people’s presence here each weekend, but that doesn’t keep us from lifting our voices and our hands in worship. I don’t consider myself an emotional person, but I weep often in our services, mainly because I have been so overwhelmed by God’s presence, that tears have spontaneously begun to run down my cheeks. What do I love most about my church? God is here! God meets me here. God speaks to me here. God makes me better here. Frankly, I wouldn’t be here if He didn’t and He wasn’t!
Let me ask you a question: What do you love most about your church? I hope it’s not the preacher. I hope it’s not the music. I hope it’s not the people. I hope it’s not the location or your history with your church. My prayer for you today is that what you feel first and foremost about your church is the fact that God speaks to you there. If that’s not happening, there are only two possible conclusions: Either He’s not there or you aren’t listening.
Are you listening for God to speak at your church? Are you asking God to speak to you through your church? Through you because of your church? Or are you there to do a job, and critique everything to death? God forbid! Don’t allow this to be your story!
If there’s one thing we need in our lives: it’s to hear God’s voice.
This is what I am most proud about at my church. Ironically, it’s what my pastors are most proud of, as well. They point everything back to God and work feverishly to provide a place where God is present and God speaks in and through our church! Frankly, shouldn’t this be the goal of every pastor? I believe:
The pastor’s primary responsibility should be to create an atmosphere where God can speak.
Sure we can hear Him anytime, anywhere if we are listening. However, God created the church because we need each other and we need to hear God speak through each other! Commit today to listen for God’s voice through your church. And if by chance, this is not happening at your church, I would quickly find one where it des happen. I frankly don’t know where I would be these last few years if God didn’t speak to me every week through my church. I am praying the same happens with you!
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10-24-25 (NIV)