This year is my fourteenth year working as a full-time pastor and either served on church staff or was in Seminary for a few years before. When I look back on my younger years in the ministry I often shake my head as I remember things I said or attitudes I harbored which were completely wrongheaded. Thankfully God is gracious, working through us in spite of ourselves and helping us to grow and mature.
So that others can learn from them, here are a few of the foolish things I used to believe about the ministry. (In ten years I will write about the foolish things I believed about the ministry in 2016.)
Before I was in ministry I worked a secular job.
This is common parlance, but horribly wrong headed. When we speak of non-ministry jobs as “secular” work we subtly send the impression that pastors do holy work and everyone else does non-holy work. Farming, accounting, teaching, welding, and thousands of other jobs are not secular work. They fulfill the creation mandate to subdue the earth, provide for the common good, and bring glory to God. One of the greatest needs in our generation is helping believers connect their faith to their work, and we will not accomplish this while we speak of non-church jobs as if they are a lesser form of vocation.
If I preach well everything else in our church will fall into place.
Early in my ministry I assumed that good preaching fixed all of the church’s issues. If people heard and responded to God’s word, they would be counseled and discipled through it instead of needing one on one meetings during the week. As we walked through the Bible and saw what the church is and what it is called to be everyone would be on board with necessary changes because they have been listening to the preaching. If anything, good preaching creates more need and opportunities for the pastor to counsel and do one on one discipleship as the word exposes sin and the need for growth in Christian’s lives. When people ask questions about decisions the church faces it provides great opportunities for personal conversations about the Bible and the church. Then after having these conversations through counseling, discipling, and decision making helps the pastor have a greater understanding of what is people are facing when he prepares to preach each week. A strong pulpit leads to more personal ministry and personal ministry leads to stronger pulpit.
I want my church to be so mature that I never have to explain difficult concepts because they understand them already.