So this won’t be for everyone. I’ve wanted for the past few months to start a blog series on practical ministry stuff for other preachers and ministers and local church volunteers. I’d like to write down somewhere some of the stuff that I’ve learned and am learning, and I’d also like to try and pass it on to people who are serving in ministry. And here’s why I think, even though I’m pretty young and new at this, I still might be able to do it.
In one of his books, the great author Malcolm Gladwell talks about what he calls the curse of knowledge. His basic idea is that after a while of doing things, we eventually forget the wisdom that we learned along the way. It becomes more natural, and what was once quite difficult to do has now become second nature.
I’m not anywhere near there yet.
Each week I spend writing a sermon, planning a series, doing funerals, trying to get out in the community, visiting people in the hospital or prison, dealing with criticism, learning to play and enjoy my family with proper boundaries between Church and home…all of these things I still consistently struggle with.
But I also recognize that I have been given some great gifts over the past decade of my life. Because of luck of the draw, I’ve been blessed with great mentors and friendships with people who are brilliant leaders, pastors, thinkers and preachers. I was blessed to work on a preaching team with Rick Atchley for several years, I’ve been blessed to work at two large and healthy churches that care about the right things, and have had regular access to tremendous resources and people who have taught me more than I could have ever learned any other way. And since I haven’t been doing this long enough to forget what I learned I wanted to try and pass on some of these great pieces of wisdom that I have learned, and am in the process of learning, to my friends in ministry in other places in the world.
This will be a blog series that will last about a year, and we will try and cover everything from how I learned to plan a sermon series to how I learned to do a funeral.Don’t think I’m trying to say I’ve got ministry figured out, but I do know some people that are a lot further on this journey and have been helpful to me. I plan to have several different video interviews on here with people who I’ve learned a lot from, like Rick Atchley and Jeff Childers, to Chris Seidman & Randy Harris and a local funeral director (they’re not the same person) as well as a local hospital chaplain, a local prison chaplain and several others.
I get calls and emails from friends a few times a month about this kind of stuff, and sometimes they ask a question like, “How would Rick or Randy handle this?” I don’t think I have a ton of wisdom yet, but I think I might know the answer to some of those kinds of questions. And my hope is that for the people who are serving in a ministry in other places in the country and world, this can be a place of collecting resources for us that will help us in serving the Kingdom of God.
I’d also like to invite other ministers and volunteers to weigh in, let people know what you think would work in your context and what wouldn’t and why. I’d love for this series to be a way for people serving the Kingdom of God in their different capacities to be able to help coach each other through different hard spots.
Ever since I was a kid the local church has captured my imagination. For all her warts and flaws (and let’s be honest, she has a few), I love what can happen when a group of people get together to worship and serve, I like the way N.T. Wright says this:
“The Church is a place of welcome and laughter, of healing and hope of friends and family and justice and new life. It’s where the homeless drop by for a bowl of soup and the elderly stop by for a chat. It’s where one group is working to help drug addicts and another is campaigning for global justice. It’s where you’ll find people learning to pray, coming to faith…finding new purpose, and getting in touch with a new power to carry that purpose out. It’s where people bring their own small faith and discover, in getting together with others to worship the one true God, that the whole becomes greater than the sum of it’s parts.”
That’s what Church is. It’s a group of broken fragile people who are in a hundred different stage and seasons of life, relearning how to live together in ways that restore and heal the world.
I believe in the local church. I think that it is the hope of the world. I think my job is one of the best in the world, I think it is what God wired me up for, and it gives me great joy to get to do. But a large reason for why I love doing this so much, is because I am able to stand on the shoulders of wiser and better people than me. And I want to pass that on to as many people as I can. So for the next year I plan to share several of my failures and what I learned from them, and a lot of my friends successes, in hopes that they bless you as you bless others.