Local Church

Pastors Were Never Meant to Know Everyone

Pastors Were Never Meant to Know Everyone

For one year, Kayla and I actively served on the Kids Team at a church in Baton Rouge, LA. We asked to be scheduled twice a month -- and in some cases three times. Although this commitment was more than expected, we loved it that much.

The more we were around and served, the more the leaders engaged with us. We knew the Kids Pastors and staff more than just a quick "hello" on a Sunday morning. We often talked about the church, the vision, and how we were challenged by the messages.

During our entire time serving and attending this church we never once had a conversation with the Lead Pastor. We never even shook his hand. 

... and I thought this was normal!

I had no church background prior to attending this church. When I committed my life to Jesus, I started attending a church, reading my Bible, and eventually serving. Through my discovery of Christianity and my experience at that church, I never expected to know the pastor personally.

Fast forward six years -- a couple of new churches -- and many personal conversations later and I've realized my prior expectation is in the extreme minority. In fact, I've often heard this popular statement: "I just need to go to a church where I know the pastor."

Can I lovingly nudge your perspective for a few paragraphs? My suggestion is that despite what we may think, pastors were never intended to have a close relationship with every person in their church.

I think that this perspective correlates with the fact that 90 percent of churches stay less than 200 people in attendance. I don't fault people for desiring a close relationship with other people -- however our expectations that the person should be our pastor is misguided.

Let's think about it.

The first pastor in the Bible was Moses. It was physically impossible for him to be close with his people. Why? There were millions of them. In fact, so overwhelmed by the administration of leading millions, his father-in-law suggested he develop other leaders to meet the needs of the people.

When Jesus arrived on the scene, many instantly decided to follow Him after witnessing His teachings and signs. As His followers increased, He always stayed close to his 12 disciples.

When the Church exploded on the scene in Acts, we quickly see the apostles couldn't handle everything and everyone. They had to raise up team leaders (elders) to lead areas of ministry.

As Paul started planting churches, he would arrive to towns, preach the Gospel, develop leaders and leave. As the churches continued growing, they continued to develop leaders. It's why Paul spent most of his time writing letters to leaders and churches. There was no way Paul could personally know everyone -- even in churches he personally planted.

In fact, the roles God assimilates in the church -- apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers -- were designed for this one functionality.

The Task of Engaging Young Leaders in a Rural Church

The Task of Engaging Young Leaders in a Rural Church

With butterfly’s in my stomach I ran out of the tunnel from the locker room to our high school football stadium. It was the biggest game of the year – Leominster vs. Fitchburg – on Thanksgiving Day. So big in fact that this rivalry of neighboring towns has been played since 1894.

As we approached the sidelines I looked at a teammate and said, “Where is everyone?” I was naïve because this specific game broke 15,000 in attendance, but it looked empty in my eyes.

Growing up I couldn’t comprehend small or rural America. I didn’t even know such towns existed. I grew up 40 miles outside Boston (673,000). I eventually moved to Baton Rouge (227,000) and spent a short span of time in New York City (8.5 million).

Endless food options paired with a Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks on every corner was the norm to me. Fun activities and the general personality of a large city was always on display. There was never a dull moment to be found.

This past December, Kayla and I went on vacation to Los Angeles (3.9 million). At this point though, we lived in towns of 4,009 and 4,652 for the previous six years.

It was a Sunday and we were making our way to the Griffith Observatory in LA. The Observatory was only seven miles from our hotel. It took us 45 minutes to get to our destination. I looked at Kayla and screamed, “Bring me back to my town of 5,000 people!”

I never thought I’d live – or enjoy living – in a small town. Maybe that's because this isn’t the case for most people my age. Because of this it’s becoming more difficult for churches in rural locations to not only employ young leaders, but engage with millennials in their communities.

Hey Church Leader - That Team Member Might Be the Next Pastor

Hey Church Leader - That Team Member Might Be the Next Pastor

During college, my husband and I served in children’s ministry within a large church in Baton Rouge. In the middle of finishing upper-level classes and an upcoming graduation, we found ourselves also teaching Bible stories to fifth graders alongside blowing up watermelons and playing a life-size version of Angry Birds (you know, typical kids’ church fun)

During the season that we began serving, our intent was not to become children’s pastors. Our motives weren’t to make this a life-long career. In fact, it all truly started because the pastor was wrapping up a series on serving and challenged the congregation to get involved.

One year later, it was in the midst of that same position that we answered God’s call into ministry and devoted our lives to leading in the local church.

Like most busy transitions, the moments to follow happened fast. Graduation came and went. We phased out of kids’ ministry, packed up our lives, and moved to the church where we would serve for the next three years.

It all passed so quickly, in fact, that we failed to mention anything about our new vocation to the children’s ministry team who still believed we were following different career paths. Like most updates now-a-days, they came to learn about all the new changes through social media.

It only took a few Instagram pictures for the messages to start pouring in.

Overflowing encouragement was the best way to describe each conversation. From the head children’s pastor to our team members, many congratulated, affirmed and talked vision with us during the next couple of months.

At the time, I felt special. We considered ourselves exceptional and distinct. Our story even seemed unique! But, the more I’ve mulled over this story in my head, the more I realize how remarkably common it is than seemed at first glance.

National leader in the Assemblies of God and pastor in Chicago – Wilfredo “Choco” De Jesus – started off by serving in his local church as a teenager.

Marty Hoey, tenured Children’s Pastor at Crossroads Church, began his ministry story by mowing the church’s lawn and overseeing maintenance.

My own pastor, Den Hussey of Crossing Place Church, took on his first role by straitening chairs in the sanctuary between weekly services.

These three examples all popped in my head within a mere few seconds. The list is probably longer than we could even compile.

Put plainly, not all pastors started as pastors. Not all pastors started even knowing they would one day be pastors. I would argue just from observation that a significant percentage began just like you – serving within and leading a team or ministry in the local church.

Now, I’m certain the anointing or call on many of these people was very evident to their leaders, and because of this, leadership was pulled out of them. Divine encounters set them on the pathway to pastor.

Still, what if it’s not always so obvious? What if, people in your own church and on your own team, have that supernatural skillset or self-esteem buried deep within and require extra training and devotion?

Sign Me Up to Drive the Golf Cart

Sign Me Up to Drive the Golf Cart

“Let’s activate what God’s called us do!”

As our pastor championed this statement, he stepped over to a large display of the words “ACTIVATE” and flipped a switch. In a moment, the words lit up – radiating the entire auditorium. The hype in the building was elevated.

It felt like the moment a head coach stirs up his team before the Super Bowl. After his words, thousands of people were eager to partner together in unity and make the greatest team possible.

Kayla and I were in that crowd. We were ready to join a team and start serving in the church – after all, teamwork makes the dream work … right?

We quickly walked to the lobby to select a team to join and after talking to one of their team members, we made our way to the car. We were both excited – almost giddy – to be joining a team. While walking back, we asked each other what teams the other selected.

“I picked the parking team because I want to drive the golf cart in the parking lot.”

“I joined the hospitality team so I can talk to new guests!”

Getting in my car, an awkward pause soon ensued. We looked at each and both agreed that those weren’t the two teams we were supposed to join. I progressed with a sigh because I knew what God was doing next.

“On the count of three,” I said, “Let’s blurt out the team we both think God wants us to join.” We did this count off – and still do to this day – to avoid bias. If God is talking to us individually, we rationed in our mind that the 1-2-3 game is the correct way to make sure we don’t influence the other person.

1 … 2 … 3 … K I D S!

Before the S rattled off our tongue, I yelled, “NOOOO!” (I may have been inspired by Michael Scott). To condense a long story, we joined the kids team because we felt that’s where God wanted us to be.

The big picture was evident. Jesus was taking us on a process to be more like Him.

Months prior to this moment we were wondering if God is even around on Monday – we loved God on Sunday, but didn’t’ care to know Him any other day of the week. But, in typical God fashion, He showed Himself in my ’96 Saturn Sedan to shift our perspective.

He challenged us to pursue Him more. It worked! As we loved Him more and spent time with Him on a deeper level, simply attending church was the bare minimum. It was now time to do what Jesus did the best – serve others around us.

So, what made us move from attending church to serving others? It may have taken us a while, but we understood that while change can be uncomfortable, it is essential for us to keep moving in our faith journey.

Encountering God in a '96 Saturn Sedan

Encountering God in a '96 Saturn Sedan

I can’t do this anymore. I can’t keep living like this.

Etched into my memory, these were the first words that broke the unsettling silence within our car when sitting at a red-light that felt like an eternity.

Matt and I had just left Wednesday Night service and was met with typical traffic in Baton Rouge that night. The service itself wasn’t necessarily memorable. I don’t recall what songs were sung or the topic of the message. It was unusual anyway for us to attend church in the middle of the week because of our schedules, but even that isn’t the reason for recollection.

Instead, what I will never forget is the heavy presence that met us not during bible study but rather in the car ride home.

Described perfectly by my husband last week, our life at the time was fused together by a slew of productive activities but void of purpose. The day of the week decided where our attention was placed – whether on God, school, work, leisure or rest. This scheduled cycle went on for almost two years of our college career.

It was a pattern built on good works and best intentions in the life of believer. For anyone who has experienced this repetitive lifestyle, you can guess what happened next. Unfulfilled and drained, our breaking point had come sitting in a 1996 Saturn Sedan on Siegen Lane.

I can’t do this anymore. I can’t keep living like this. This isn’t the life God intended for us, and we need to do something about it.

For the next hour, Matt and I peeled back the layers of our hearts. Vulnerable and honest, we poured over our drained lives that were void of God’s constant presence.

We were simply unsatisfied with only knowing His presence on Sundays. Like desert-bound wanderers in search for water, our dry souls were thirsty. Change happens when we are unwilling to allow life to continue in its current state.

I wish I could tell you that after an intense sob session we got on our knees at home, called out to God and changed our apathetic ways. Man, that would make for one great, intense turnaround story. It’s the Hallmark classic moment of Christian testimonies. That’s not what happened though.

In fact, there were no tears. There weren’t any prayers. An altar call was available to us, and no change happened to our schedules. On paper, nothing at all seemed to shift, yet within our hearts – we were different.

In an effort to work toward freedom together and not ‘on-paper’ perfection, here are the overnight changes that happened in our belief (and not our behavior) that led to this defining moment.