#1 Truth Learned
In my last week as pastor of Edinbrook, I am reflecting on my journey as your leader. I will be sharing a “Truth Learned” each day this week–insights I have gleaned through my 16 years as pastor of this WONDERFUL church.
#1 Truth Learned: Being obedient to God can be especially hard as a pastor.
When I came to Edinbrook Church 16 years ago, I stepped into a congregation filled with wonderful people and bright hopes for the future. With about 150 people engaged, there were already huge risks taken and much sacrifice given to keep this church alive. I’ll never forget the first day I stepped into the office with three part-time employees present. They looked at me with eager expectation and said, “Pastor, lead us. We’re ready to go. Just tell us what to do.” I have to tell you, it was a little intimidating.
Many years later, I now look at what God has done and stand in awe. We have changed so much…and every bit of it was difficult and painful. Change is just that way. And change is what God is all about, both personally and corporately. If we’re personally the same five years from now as we are today, we have failed to let God do His work. It’s the same in the church–we MUST change. It’s part of the faith-journey that God has for us. But very few church-folk really want to change.
I enjoy having people like me, but I soon realized that, if I was to do my God-given task as a pastor, there would inevitably be a LOT of people who would NOT like me at all.
- God has not called the church to be comfortable, but to live by faith.
- We cannot just be nice, we must be effective.
- We cannot do what’s comfortable, but what’s necessary.
- We cannot do what’s always been done, but what it takes to reach a world and culture changing at a stunning pace.
- We cannot only do what makes those inside of the church happy, but what it takes to make lost people holy.
BUT–there is a HUGE misperception by Christians at large that assumes the church is here for us. In other words, “It should give me what I want.” As a result, we have churches all across our nation that are nice and good churches filled with nice and happy people who are making little to no impact in actually growing the Kingdom of God.
I decided early on that this would not be us. I committed to doing whatever it took to be an Acts 2-type church. Through the years, many people were very angry, disillusioned, accusatory, judgmental, and self-righteous. I have had more anonymous letters than I’d ever like to remember. I have had people call me the anti-Christ, worldly, liberal, unbiblical, and shallow (many times). Many left our church thinking they would go find a church that would give them what they need. The problem is that so many Christians get cultural Christianity and biblical Christianity confused. Cultural Christianity is what we grew up with–what our current Christian culture elevates as the acceptable form of religion and church life. It is often quite far from what’s actually biblical.
I realized that being obedient to God as a pastor is a very painful thing.
But I would do it again. When I see what God has done, the lives that have been transformed, the lost who have been found, and the compelling future this church has before it, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for God’s faithfulness. We never lose by doing what is right, even if you need to hurt some of the people you love in the process.