Much of my ministry was served in Florence, Alabama; Kansas City, Missouri; and Waco, Texas. I was engaged in congregational ministry. Now I am at Harding School of Theology.
Working with a church is front line ministry. There are numerous opportunities to serve, teach, and bless others. Some might imagine a life where once basically preaches on Sunday, spends hours in the church building, and attempts to always be “nice.”
My own experience during these decades was much difference thank this. In many ways, it was an adventure in which I had to learn to depend on God.
What I experienced included:
1. Preaching many funerals. Believers. Non-believers. Older people. Teens. Babies. Cancer. Car crashes. Suicide. Long illness. Sudden death. Murder.
2. Conversations with with many people. Often these conversations were about how to apply the gospel. At times, they were individuals who wanted to talk about problems with anger, adultery, depression, resentment, financial loss, marital issues, and children who had brought their parents heartbreak. Some conversations were tender as some talked about very delicate concerns.
3. Preaching/teaching. Small groups. Large groups. Informal. Formal. Sunday mornings/Wednesday evenings. In a church auditorium. In a jail and prison. All of this took much study, reading, thinking, praying.
4. Spending time with people. Coffee. Fishing. Golf. Coffee. Lunches. Ball games. So often these moments turned out to be much more than what it might have appeared at first. So often in the boat, in the golf cart, at coffee or on the way home from a ball game, the person I was with would begin talking about what really mattered. So often, I had the opportunity to in some way connect this person’s concern to Jesus.
5. Learning to live the transformed life. Congregational ministry is much more than doing the kind of work that calls for one to spend a lot of time in church buildings. Rather, the transformed life is about a person taking seriously Jesus’s call to follow him and to imitate him. Men and women long to see someone who is taking seriously Jesus call upon their lives.