Several months ago while working at the local food bank one of our volunteers shared some encouraging words with me and closed by saying, “You may have come here to plant a church, but I think the reason you came is to bless Joseph.” *
I thanked her of course. She genuinely meant it as a complement, and I received it as such. But in the back of my mind I’m thinking, “No, I’m a church planter – that’s the call, that’s the vision.”
Several days ago I was feeling a bit down and was sharing that with Megan. An event which I had hoped would move us to the “next level” as a church family didn’t get us quite that far … it was another step in the right direction and good in so many ways, but since we didn’t quite hit the goals I had I was recalibrating how we should next lead and wondering if we’d ever “get there.”
As she so often does, Megan helped to reframe where we were on our journey as a church, and that “there” is simply being faithful to always take the next step and minister however God leads, however long it takes.
Fast forward 12 hours.
I’m back at the food bank and have opportunity to pray for one person who’s son has lost their job as the company he’s been working for is closing down … and another who struggles to share that their son is back in jail. Then a conversation with someone who is wondering if her alcoholic partner is going to get the help he needs, all while we continue serving a long line of clients representing well over 100 needy adults and children.
After work that day I had to admit that the first woman was right after all. Or at least more right than I originally allowed. Megan and I have indeed come to serve as church planters, but I had to shift my view of what that ministry looks like.
I’ve been working “in the church” for so long that I regularly battle the idea that ministry is what happens inside the four walls of a building, during a weekly meeting or program, or during that special event that’s been planned. And it can and does happen there … but it also happens in so many other places and ways. And while maybe less “measurable” as far as typical church metrics go, that kind of ministry by any follower of Christ and in any setting is no less significant in the Kingdom, and certainly no less significant for the individuals who we have opportunity to serve and bless in the everyday stuff of life.
I know this … have even preached a few decent sermons on the subject. Yet I am confronted again and again with how much my mind and heart needs to be reformed. I’m continuing to learn that you can indeed get the pastor out of the church, but it’s not so easy to get this one’s limited view of “church ministry” out of him. 🙂
* not their real name.