Just last weekend my ten-year old daughter, Reagan, arrived home from an overnight church retreat for girls. She was so thrilled to tell us all about her experience.
The first words out of her mouth were “I’m going to be a minister when I grow up.”
My wife brilliantly replied, “That’s awesome! But you’re going to be a room-cleaner this afternoon.”
Earlier this week our children’s pastor, Heather Bergeron, filled us in on how Reagan was worshipping with tears in her eyes during the retreat.
There is something holy and precious about children encountering God. I was only a bit older (13) when I first sensed and responded to what I felt was a call to give my life to vocational ministry. I didn’t know what kind of ministry. I didn’t know much about how to go about pursuing ministry. I just knew that I had experienced God in an authentic way and I wanted to spend my life leading others to encounter him as well.
This past weekend I had the unique opportunity to attend The Apprentice Gathering at Friends University in Wichita, Kansas. I arrived on Wednesday night and spent the next three days gleaning from some of the top leaders in the field of Christian spiritual formation.
I first heard about this event several months ago when I stumbled upon it while googling some info on Greg Boyd, who happened to be one of the speakers.
Greg is one of my absolute favorite modern theologians/pastors/authors. Since buying one of his books in Books-a-Million back in 2009, I have followed his work with great interest. He has had an immeasurable impact on my theology and the way I think about God. Possibly more than anyone else. It was a huge honor just to meet him and say “thanks” in person.
When I first began pastoring, I had a pretty defined philosophy on how to lead a church. It was a philosophy that had been formed and shaped in large part by the current cultural trends of modern American church leadership. The components were as follows:
- Do everything (short of sin) that you can do to attract people to your Sunday morning gatherings.
- Your “wins” must be measurable (e.g. “How many were in attendance?” “How many were newcomers?” “How many got baptized?” “How many went through the Growth Track?” “How many people served at the last outreach?” “How many…?”).
- The biggest “win” of the Sunday morning gathering is getting people “saved.”
- You must get people constantly moving to the “next step” (“Now that you said ‘Yes’ to Jesus, have you registered for water baptism?” “Now that you’ve been baptized, have you joined a small group?” “Now that you’ve joined a small group, have you thought about helping to lead a group next semester?” Et cetera.).
There are other components as well, but you get the drift. Now, I hope I don’t come across as being cynical or dismissive. Because any healthy pastor wants people moving forward, and indeed, there are times when tangible, measurable steps are involved. I am not categorically against any of these things at all. My church certainly utilizes several of these components. But…