Tony Jones is pastor at the First Baptist Church of Rich Hill, MO. He blogs at: https://tonylynnjones80.wordpress.com/ where this post first appeared.
My friend asked me a great question Friday afternoon as we drove back from Kansas City. He asked, “Now that you’ve been a pastor for four years, what have you learned about church life that you didn’t know before?” I was a music minister in Arkansas for 13 years before I became a pastor. I have also been in church my whole life and I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of church life. I probably would have given him a better answer had I not felt like 10 miles of bad road, but I’ve had three days to reflect and here’s a more complete answer:
1) You really do have to depend on The Holy Spirit: this may read like a “duh” statement to most of my readers, but as an under staff member, I got used to depending on those in authority over me. The Holy Spirit was always there and always working, but I did not always see it that way. These last four years have taught me, like no other time in my ministry, how utterly dependent I am on The Holy Spirit. I’m grateful that I have to depend on The Holy Spirit because if I had to depend on myself, our church would be in some serious trouble.
2) Good Christians aren’t perfect and bad Christians ain’t demons: in my 13 years as a worship leader I heard the good and the bad about church members. I’ve learned that we tend to exaggerate in both directions. We tend to idolize those who we judge to be good Christians and demonized those whom we judge to be bad Christians. In reality, most Christians are somewhere in between. The good ones will hurt you and you might come to appreciate the difficult ones. I’m not denying the fact that there are some in leadership in our churches who aren’t Christian, but I like to think there aren’t as many of those.
3) We need less revival: let me try to explain this one. I can’t go to a preacher meeting without at least one speaker calling for the fire from heaven to come down and revive our dying churches. The longer I pastor, and the more I seek God personally, the more I realize that we don’t need revival experiences more than we just need people who are committed to consistently living out their faith on a daily basis. Passionate, worshipful experiences with God are a blessing but if they don’t produce a believer who consistently walks with God day after day, then what have they accomplished? That’s not a rhetorical question. I am interested in your opinion on that one.
4) Pastoring is really hard: I think I already knew this one, but I was a much better pastor when I wasn’t a pastor. There have been several days in the past four years when I’ve wanted to call my former pastors and apologize. Maybe I’ll have a young, sarcastic, arrogant, smart-alec Worship leader one day.
5) Jesus loves me: I’m more aware of the depth and the riches of Christ’s love.
I love pastoring. I love the people I pastor, and I hope I get to pastor for a long time, but I love Christ more and I know that nothing will separate me from The of God which is in Christ Jesus.
What would your answer to the question be? Would you add anything to my points?