This relaunch of kevinclarkjones.com will focus on Family Ministry and Student Ministry. I will also be sharing ideas for parents who wish to take seriously the discipleship of their children. I look forward to helping families grow closer to Christ together!
The Wages of Sin, The Glory of Grace
Message given at Fairforest Baptist Church in October 2015.
How Not to Serve in a Small Church
In a world of megachurches, it’s easy to feel insignificant in a small church. And I have no qualms about my calling to a small church… small is good! It’s more intimate, more personal. But it can be (or at least appear) more challenging. In the 18 months I have been a pastor at Fairforest Baptist Church, I have learned some attitudes to avoid and things not to do. Here are some of them:
1) Believe the Lie that God Can’t Use Your Church
I meet people all the time that pastor at churches bigger than mine. Those churches usually have more resources. They usually have more staff. It’s incredibly easy to get jealous, and then feel like a bad Christian and bad pastor for not being content where He has called you.
It’s really easy to hear about people getting saved in megachurches by the thousands every week and wonder “why can’t I make a difference like that?” And soon, you believe start to believe that the impact you make is nothing compared to the ones made by others around you.
“Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:10, ESV
While I imagine God and the angels are thrilled when many receive Christ at megachurches, Jesus makes it clear that they also rejoice over just one.
This is the whole point of Luke 15. Jesus tells three parables, and in each one, God shows His heart for the lost, pursuing them by his relentless love.
And if God uses your church to save just one sinner, you should rejoice as well.
2) Take it Personally When People Don’t Come
This is the hardest one for me. And it makes sense, from one standpoint. People should go to church. Believers suffer when disconnected from the body of Christ. I want people to go to any church and be in fellowship and worship with others.
But when I’m honest, I want people to come to my church.
And when they don’t, I think it’s because of something I’ve done. Or maybe that I’m not good enough. Or maybe my song selection is terrible. Or maybe people think I’m weird (disclaimer: I am weird.)
First of all, when did it become my church? Yes, in the sense that God called me to serve there, it is my church. But before any of that, the church belongs to Christ as His bride.
When I see the big picture, I recognize that the church is the whole of God’s people rather than just my individual part in it.
You are only responsible to be faithful to my calling. Rather than be offended when people don’t come, why not thank God for those He has given you to minister to?
3) Get Stuck in Your Office
Over the last 18 months, I have had way more responsibilities than just youth and worship ministry. I have been the church administrator. The copier repair guy. The technology expert. (I never should have told anyone I know anything about computers)
There’s a lot to do and it’s easy to get stuck in your office and “fix” stuff. And while that is important, it’s easy to get bogged down with the administrative side of the job.
And soon, you’re not a pastor except when people are in the church building.
What if I stepped out of the church walls and met people where they are?
What if I took discipleship seriously and personally discipled someone else?
When I really stop and think about my role as a pastor, I should be more worried about getting myself outside the church walls than I am about getting other people inside them.
I want to be a pastor everywhere I go, not just on Sunday mornings.
After all, it was no accident that Jesus said “Go into all the world.”
How not to look for a ministry job
Starting around March 2013, I started my search for a full-time ministry position. It was a long, difficult process, and I wasn’t a big fan of it. I was incredibly blessed to finally receive a job offer from Fairforest Baptist Church in January 2014, but my road to get there was full of mistakes. Here’s a list of things NOT to do while looking for a ministry/church position.
1) Get Really Excited About a Position
I looked at hundreds of job postings on various websites, and occasionally got personal referrals. I frequently got excited about one or many aspects of job postings, be it the responsibilities, location, expected office hours (note to search teams: the less, the better!), or mission of the church. And frequently, I has horribly disappointed. Either I got an email saying “lol like we’d hire you” (paraphrase mine) or just never heard anything back from them. Occasionally I received a letter in the mail, which was nice, but still stung from rejection. I even made it to the final two candidates at one church and had every indication that they would pick me. But they didn’t, and I was crushed.
Job postings can be exciting, interviews can be exciting, and opportunities can be exciting. But you’re searching for the place God is calling you. God will direct you to the right place in His time. Decide what kind of position you want and search for job postings that fit your values, but the right time to get excited is when you’re moving books into your new office.
2) Continue to Pursue a Job You Have a Weird Feeling About
As a Christian you have been given the Holy Spirit to help you discern His will. And yes, sometimes discernment comes in the form of “feeling funny”. So if a church wants to bring you in for an interview, but you feel funny about it, do NOT be flaky and try to get them to stop considering you as a candidate. (This is totally not at all from personal experience and also totally is).
If you have a gut feeling that a church isn’t right for you, it’s probably the Holy Spirit speaking to you. Just ask the church to remove you from consideration. There is no shame in this. Don’t ignore any pull from the Spirit, whether toward a church or away from one. He has promised to guide you, and He will.
3) Try to Impress the Interviewers
At several interviews, I tried really hard to be who I thought they wanted me to be. I listened to what they were asking and worked off my assumptions to say what I thought they wanted to hear. This is arguably the worst thing you could do at an interview for what may be God’s calling on your life. Not only does this give the interviewers a false representation of you, but it may lead to you being unhappy in a church that doesn’t fit your personality.
By the time I met the leadership team at Fairforest, I had been rejected1 by more churches than I could count. I was spiritually worn and emotionally drained. I decided “I’m just going to be myself and if they don’t like me that’s fine.” I finally figured out that I wasn’t trying to impress people… I was seeking God to find where He was sending me. By surrendering my desire to impress others, I was able to hear and answer His call.
1. “Rejected”, I now realize, is not the correct word. I wasn’t rejected, I just hadn’t found the right church yet. But rejection is what I was feeling.
The new john330.com
New posts on life, ministry, leadership, and more coming soon. Visit my old site at thelittlemanjournal.blogspot.com