1ST YEAR PASTOR: I will win this city for Jesus!
10TH YEAR PASTOR: I’m pretty concerned about the people in my church at this point.
In one of my first board meetings I led as a pastor, I laid out my plan to build our church. I was going to start satellite churches in small towns near us. I’d have a school and I’d be the principal. I was going to take over the city for Jesus.
I came with the assumption that people in my church were saved, intelligent, well-informed, and ready to serve the Lord, all they needed was visionary leadership.
After several years I began worrying about the salvation of some of the people in my church. A couple years after that, I was worried if anyone was saved. A couple years later, I wasn’t even sure I was saved.
I wonder if I’m the only pastor who thinks he got saved years after starting his pastor job?
The job of preaching out of God’s Word several times a week has a way of teaching you how little you know. I was repeating words I’d heard, doctrines I’d been taught, and I had no real defense for most of them. People challenged what I taught, often even in a good way. I had no answers that satisfied me, only the party line.
It really hit me. “I have no idea what I’m talking about.”
Perhaps some pastors hit this point and shove it back. They keep flopping out the party line, going through the liturgical calendar, speaking about the next holiday, keeping themselves distracted from any biblical systematic approach that would educate themselves. I tried to ignore it for a while, but then I just couldn’t. I felt so conflicted, so fake, so hypocritical.
I began reading the Bible voraciously, reading it several times a year for many years. I began teaching what I found in there. It didn’t go over well. My church shrunk incredibly. My pay shrunk as well.
I hit a point where I finally felt I understood what the Gospel was, like, for real. Not just my Sunday School lines about the Gospel, but knew it in my head and by experience. Then I began worrying about the people in my church, many who were in the same spot as me. Playing a game, pretending to know while having no answers to any question that penetrated the first inch of knowledge.
Then, when so many left, I became convinced no one was saved. Either that, or I wasn’t. Someone wasn’t!
When the Bible describes people who are saved, they don’t act like we do in the church today. When the Bible describes a well-functioning church, it doesn’t look like us. Why is that? If we’re saved, if we’re legit believers, why do we not look like what the Bible says?
People left because that was arrogant to ask. Who did I think I was? They’ve been saved for 47 years and have the church volunteer resume to prove it. Who was this punk kid coming in asking stupid questions?
I gave up my dreams of satellite churches and being the principal of a Christian school. Instead, I took the handful of people that remained and got to work figuring out what was going on in the Bible. Judgment day will let me know if it worked.
“Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.“
–1 Corinthians 3:12-13