What I Want

In just a week or two Laura and I will finish 25 years of pastoral ministry here at Faith Community Church. For the first 22 I worked in various capacities as needs arose, mostly focusing on our educational programs and ministries to adults. However, in March of 2003 I began preaching during a vacancy in the Senior Pastor's position, and that led to the church calling me as Senior Pastor in September of 2003. Unlike what I am sure a lot of people have the opportunity to say, these last few years have been the best.

So this particular August/September period is a special one for me in several ways. However, it is also the time when most churches "re-gather" for the coming year, having allowed the summer to provide a break from some church programs. As we begin another year of ministry, I have been asking myself what I hope to accomplish. I have a list of "things to do," but I am not thinking about tasks. I am thinking about what I would like to see happen in the lives of our people and in our church as a whole, and I find that while I can do things that move in those directions, that the real work is done by God.

Here are some things that I am thinking about and praying for:

I want to see more of our people here more often. Our generation has re-defined faithfulness, and it is not for the better. Call me simplistic, but if we preach and teach because we believe that God's Word is in fact living and active, and that it does change lives, then it stands to reason that it is essential that our folks have a regular diet of the Bible. I'm praying that God will speak to our people about having a greater hunger for His Word.

I want to see more of our people in small groups and our groups become closer-knit communities. At present about 35-40% of our adults are members of a small group. Our groups meet weekly to share together, pray together, and learn together. While no groups are perfect, I know enough about what happens in our groups that I can state without question that those who choose to opt-out of small group participation are missing something significant to their spiritual lives.

I want to see our entire church become better followers of Christ. As I am composing this, I received an email from a friend in our church that contained an article on the nature of pastoral ministry. One of the points was that the church needed to be more focused on mission. I'm going to use that term in this way: I would like to see our people follow Christ more intentionally in their daily pursuits. A starting point for that is that they be aware that no matter where they go and what they are doing, no matter how mundane the task, no matter how public or private, no matter how frustrating or exhilarating, being a follower of Jesus Christ in some way relates to the way that we conduct our lives. In other words, I want us to live life with a pervading sense that we are living for the glory of God. That affects how I work, how I live in my home, how I deal with those outside of Christ, etc.

I am clearly conscious that these tranformations - which are hardly unique and probably could be said at any time by any pastor in any evangelical church - take place only by the work of God. So how does that relate to what I do? At the outset of this new church year, and as I reach into the second quarter of my ministry here, I am aware of the need to do several things so that God can use me as a catalyst as he sees fit.

I'm not sure that I can list steps or goals yet for myself. I am thinking about that, and plan to do more of that when I am on vacation next week. But my thoughts center at this point on my own pastoral and personal priorities as a student and communicator, and on the need to emphasize what I think God wants to do in our church - like building deeper community and living effectively (which includes both character and witness) in our non-church world.

How about some of you? What are you thinking about as you get ready to enter a new season of ministry? I'd be glad to hear what you want to be doing and doing better? Let's commit to pray for each other so that we will be God's tools in the task!


Milton Stanley said...

Praise God that you have been blessed to build a ministry with the same congregation for so many years. Reading your blog, I believe you are on the right track to make your congregation a stronger church.

The challenge for the church I'm working with is balancing emphases on evangelism and discipleship building. For the lack of a better phrase, if the congregation hasn't been adequately transformed into the image of Christ, then as quickly as we bring a new disciple into the church, we'll lose another one unnecessarily. For that reason I'm working with the congregation in Lexington to speak the truth in love, to love God and one another in such a way that the world will see we belong to Jesus.

Bumble said...

"How about some of you? What are you thinking about as you get ready to enter a new season of ministry?"

Oh Peter, I just wish that I would be faithful like what you have been doing so far. I've been in my church for more than 20 years, and a lay-vonlunteer for the last 15. Since 2002 I've started dabbling as a lay-pastor. I don't even know if I would ever finish it well. Many things could derail us. What would happened when our 70 years old senior pastor pass away? He had been there for teh last 27 years. Will the church split? What would happen once I get ordained; will the official expectations kill my spiritual life? What would happen if my own family fall apart?

I am an eternal pessimist and skeptic, who won't ever dare of "Big Dream" (may God pardon my sin). All I want, is to be faithful, fought a good fight (no matter winning or losing), finish the race (regardless of first or last).

For the next year, I am planning to take our English Speaking congregation through 1st Corinthians (with a break in Winter). What I hope is that God will continue His work among us, bring people in, change people life, raise people up and give us a reason to point our finger to: "God did all that - we didn't really have much to offer. Somehow, it happened!"

John said...

Congratulations Peter to you and Laura's 25th Anniversary in ministry at FCC, this is a milestone and one well deserved for your loyalty and faithfulness to His call, be blessed as you are a blessing to many. God will grant the desires of your heart.


Peter Bogert said...

Thanks, folks.

Milton: that is indeed a challenge. Thanks for sharing.

Bumble: Keep on!! You're doing fine.