Our last two weeks, previous to Sunday, were incredible Sundays at CLF. One of the challenges of church ministry is to fight the urge to hit home runs every week. Jeffrey Jo, being with us…home run. Easter Sunday…home run. Someone asked me last week: “How do we follow Easter?” My reply was that we keep doing what we’ve always tried to do…be faithful to God and His word. It’s like I tell my players when someone hits a double ahead of them… ”trade places with them and do your job!”. That’s the sense I often get about the call to faithfulness. Do your job!
“Harder Than It Seems”:
I can almost hear those of you who read the question and my reply saying, “yeah, duh! Just do your job and be faithful to God.” But I can assure you that it’s more complicated in church ministry than it seems. There are several factors, but I can only give you the ones I deal with regularly, especially now, as the church is growing exponentially.
One battle I fight is that “newer seems better.” You see this struggle everywhere…technology, laundry detergent, and ideas. The battle over “newer seems better” hits me when I preach a sermon like this past Sunday. As we covered 1 Timothy 1-3, I could feel it in my gut…” why don’t you teach them something new?” “Why don’t you make ideas fresher and come at stuff from a different angle?” I kept reminding myself this week that the answer was “God’s Word…is God’s Word. It doesn’t need my refining.”
Another struggle I feel is the desire for people to remain engaged mentally in my sermons. I realize I give a lot of content. I know I’m loud, talk fast, and constantly work on delivering my sermons better. But I also realize my concern over being dull or drab and the content being less than desirable. So, this is a weekly struggle for me. There’s a fine line between declaring biblical content and trying to be engaging. But, I have fought this through the years with a reminder from historical heroes like John Calvin that my job is to bring the news, and it’s God’s job to convince the heart.
One last struggle (there are more, but I’ll stop here): it’s the battle of what some people might be used to shorter sermons with less content and being worried that I should change something for their sake. I sincerely want to serve people with God’s word. I want to use my gifts to honor God and equip His people. And one way I’ve fought this battle is with a few reminders: One is: what you “get” people with is what you have to “keep” people with. This reminds me of the importance of opening God’s word before people and trusting God to work in His people. Another reminder comes from my faithful wife: God made me and gifted me a certain way to preach/teach God’s word. Changing that for impure reasons will not be faithful to God. This is true. I’m loud by nature (I use my outside voice, inside often:) and I love deep things. So, I’ve toned it down through the year (honestly, I have!) and worked hard to be more clear in my sermons. But when it all comes together, I need to be faithful to God and how He made me. A final reminder is this: CLF and our way of “doing church” is unique in our community, and not everyone will like how we do it. While I might want to save the world and pastor all of Douglas County, the reality is it’s not going to happen. And that’s by God’s design. CLF isn’t for everyone, but it is for those who call CLF their home church (people for whom I’m incredibly grateful).
So… I hope that each Sunday, and each time CLF gathers, we will “do our job,” and hopefully, at the end of all things, we will hear “well done, my good and faithful servant(s).”
Faithfulness and Fruitfulness:
I said something on Sunday that bears repeating…While fruitfulness is essential, I believe that faithfulness to God matters more than fruitfulness. I think this way because God does not welcome us to our heavenly home because of fruitfulness but because of faithfulness. I also think this way because we cannot control the fruit that is produced…God does that, as we are faithful to Him.
I’m reminded of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 3 when he wrote, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” You can see the faithfulness of Paul and Apollos in planting and watering, but you can see God bringing the fruit or increase.
This matters to church ministry because so often, people look for a church based on fruitfulness: the size of the church; building; programs for children, youth, or singles; impactful worship services; connected worship songs; etc. While some of these things are important, I would argue that faithfulness to God, His word, His mission, and His people are more important. Also, some of these things might reveal a church’s faithfulness, but we cannot gauge a church’s faithfulness simply by the “fruit” we might see. And if we do see “fruit,” we need to ask if it’s biblical fruit.
This Coming Sunday:
This week, we will overview 1 Timothy 4:1-5 as we look at the influence of false teaching.
From the Cheap Seats:
- This catch needs to be watched: https://www.mlb.com/video/adolis-garcia-s-diving-catch-x9403
- I loved this goal by Rodri…stepping over Kevin DeBruyne, who was hurt on the ground, to take this shot. I could hear my old football coach saying, “get up…you’re killing the grass!” https://www.nbcsports.com/video/rodri-blasts-manchester-city-back-two-goal-cushion-over-watford
- The NFL draft is this week. Please, Dallas Cowboys…draft offensive linemen and edge rushers. And please, Washington Commanders (what is that??), Philadephia Eagles, and New York Giants, please keep drafting poorly.
Your King is on His throne. You can relax.