Thursday, February 27, 2014

My Biggest Mistake as a Pastor

I grew up in a great christian home.  My dad was (is) a principal at a christian school, for the past 40 years or so.  So I was surrounded by Christianity on that end. And in a great church, a healthy church, that had great teaching and leaders.

As I grew up I began to grow spiritually, thanks in small part to my surroundings.  We memorized verses every week at school, did Awana's at church, had a great youth group.  We did mission trips, outreach, all types of things.  As I grew I felt God was calling me to preach, and so I did.  I began to become involved in leadership, and I began to share where God allowed me.

I thought, that this growth happened because I was in church.  I was at church, that's why I was growing and other people didn't.  They weren't as involved as I was, didn't have a supportive home, didn't get to study the Bible at school.

So when I became a pastor, at a too-young-of-an-age, I thought the most important thing I could do was get people to church. That's where the growth happened right?

What I soon found out with alarming certainty was that being in church was no indicator of spiritual maturity.  It's possible that someone who has been in church the majority of their life has little spiritual maturity.  Perhaps their church has been anemic in preaching the word, or they have taken it in on the surface level only.  I'm not sure how that happens, but I know it happens.

Because I thought I just had to get people to church, then my methods focused on changing what we did to get people in, or on big events to draw people in.  Hook them, as it were.  I thought the music, the sound system, the look of the sanctuary, or the friendliness of people was the problem.  It was never the preaching of course, just other things that people needed to let me fix.  I also thought that if I got people to attend, then spiritual growth happened automatically.

I soon learned, through much pain, that more was needed.  People grow spiritually when they seek God not just an hour or two a week but everyday.  It seems like common sense, but it took me several hard lessons to learn it.

Knowing the true path of a disciple of Christ, we can then order our services, churches, and our lifes around the things that do produce change.  Namely the Word of God and prayer.  I spend a lot of my time telling the importance of bible reading, and of prayer.  I do not promote these as things to check off on a box to be a good christian, but rather the ways and means by which spiritual growth happens.  We do this through a weekly scripture memory verse, through bible reading plans, prayer guides, even through exegetical preaching.  This shows that the Word of God, Jesus, is the only on that can really change our lives.  It takes the pressure off of us, to perform, to inspire, or change people ourselves.  It leaves the burden in the hands of the one who can do it.

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