Ministry Inside.45

1. coffee32.jpg Last week I was at the Pepperdine Bible Lectures. One of the presentations I made was for a class entitled “Compelling Questions Ministers Would Love for Elders to Ask.” For a list of these questions, leave a comment below. You can purchase MP3s, CDs, or DVDs here.

2. Be very, very careful about moving somewhere because it has “potential.” Remember that potential is something that you think might be possible but it speaks of what does not exist yet. So if you are talking with a church about possibly serving that church as a minister, only move there if you will be content and happy with them the way they actually are and not the way you hope they will one day be.

If you are not satisfied with the salary, don’t move there because they have the potential to offer a salary that might be better for your family.

If you are not happy with the elder group as they exist right now, don’t move there because they have the potential to be a much different kind of group.

If you are not happy with the kind of church this is now it is now, don’t move there unless you can love them and accept them the way they are now as well as in the future should they don’t live up to their potential.

This is the same advice I give to a young guy or young woman who is getting serious about someone and considering marriage. Only marry someone if you can be happy with them the way they are right now. Don’t marry a guy because he has the potential to become someone different. Many people have traveled down that road only to end up very disappointed and disheartened.

Now you may be asking at this point, “Don’t you believe people and churches have the potential to change? Don’t you believe that God working through us can help to create possible change?” Yes. I absolutely believe this. I am not saying that one should never think or talk about potential. I am suggesting that it is not wise to enter into new relationships (as a spouse, minister, etc.) when you are not happy with the present but think that one day things will be different.

3. I am reading Trevor Hudson’s Discovering Our Spiritual Identity: Practices for God’s Beloved. This is an outstanding book! On the back of the book, Scot McKnight writes: “Trevor Hudson is one of South Africa’s contemporary spiritual masters. The book in your hands contains the wisdom of a gentle pastor guiding each of us into a deeper walk with a God who heals. If I had one person I’d choose to be a pastor to my children, it would be Trevor Hudson.”

4. Every July, I am away from ministry responsibilities at our church. Two weeks of this is vacation. The other two weeks is a time to regroup and plan sermon messages for the fall and spring of the following year. I will generally plan both long and short series during these weeks. I read, think, and make lots of notes for upcoming messages. This is a significant time for me that has been a part of my yearly rhythm here for 18 years.

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7 thoughts on “Ministry Inside.45

  1. Jim,

    Your second point is so important to emphasize over and over. Thank you. In my book on going to seminary, I make a similar point in the chapters titled “Love the Church” and “Don’t Be a Visionary.” We are called to love, participate within, and serve the real flesh-and-blood churches that exist in the real world, not those “potential” ones that exist in our minds, hopes, and dreams.

  2. Phillip, great points. I would really like to read your book when it is published. Sounds like this book will be a blessing to a lot of ministers. You are right about serving the real flesh-and-blod churches in all their messiness. Thanks so much for this comment.