Before I get into this possible rant/sermon, please understand I understand the word “balance” and know that it is needed in our Christian life; where I may come across as “evangelistic,” I understand fellowship, discipleship and “meeting together” are needed, especially because of evangelism!
Every Wednesday morning I network with a bunch of Youth Pastors from the greater Burien-Tukwila-SeaTac area. Because the last church I Youth Pastored is in that area this was my “home network” for the last five years. These guys have become near and dear to me and I very much miss the fellowship and encouragement any time I have to miss it.
Last week we had a great discussion about “the fear of the Lord.” As a result we all agreed that no matter the viewpoint on the fear we are/are not to have (as believers), we know that unbelievers should greatly fear not having a relationship with Him. The conversation turned to what “witness” currently looks like in our own lives. The challenge was given: come back next week with a story of your own opportunity to share the Gospel.
Yesterday was the day to report. We all shared the opportunities we saw the Lord provide. I think every one of us was very honest, including a couple who shared they “were around Christians all week.” This (being with Christians all the time) is a tough one for us Christians, and I would argue specifically hard for a paid pastor.
Pastors are paid to shepherd the flock (be with other believers). There is a sense of accountability that most feel for ‘being in the office.” Many pastors are so time-consumed with the sheep in their flock that they don’t have an active witness with the lost. They may preach evangelism but live it very little. I constantly struggled (and struggle) with this.
Brief trip down memory lane
I remember an early pastorate I held, our secretary told me about a conversation she had with one of our elders. He called and asked why he didn’t see my truck at the church. She conveyed to him that I had not been in the office yet. She took the message for me to call him back. When I called him he quickly put me on the defense and let me know that it was his observation that I needed to spend more time in the office where people can see that I am working.
I don’t remember it perfectly, but I think this is a fair representation of what my day looked like:
6:15 AM Fellowship of Christian Athletes for the local high school (50% Christians and 50% non-Christians)
7:30 AM Back home for a nap
9:00 AM Network breakfast with area Youth Pastors (all Christians)
11:00 AM Study for message at local coffee shop (around non-Christians)
Noon Lunch at home
1:00 PM at office working on youth group stuff
2:30 PM Coaching Basketball at local high school (almost 100% non-Christians)
5:00 PM home with my wife (she’s a Christian!)
6:30 PM Youth Bible Study (mostly Christians)
9:00 PM debrief with the small group team (they were saved too!)
10:30 PM Home
I was only at the church for 1.5 hours that day, and this elder had a really hard time with my schedule because I was “often out Mountain Biking (with students from my youth group), coaching (soccer and basketball at the high school), or doing other stuff outside the office; the congregants need to see your car at the office more as the drive by, so they can know they are getting their moneys worth.”
As a 22-23 y/o Youth Pastor I didn’t have the words to say in response. I was stunned.
Back to today
I believe Pastors, Youth Pastors, Church Leaders and every-day congregants (such as myself) need to start talking about our witness the same way we talk about our study, prayer life and times of fellowship. For some that may look all the same–you have nothing to talk about because you’re not doing much of any of it. For me, with my youth, I have always been quick to share what I am learning from His Word. I would often talk about my struggles (and times of discipline) with my prayer life. I love sharing about my times of fellowship– but what if we were to talk more openly about the opportunities we take (or ignore) to share the Lord with the lost?
What if these Burien Youth Pastors took the time each week to share a fun story of obedience in sharing with the lost? Perhaps the students in these youth groups would start seeing it as “normal” to share Jesus and not just something you do on a mission trip! What would happen if at the dinner table moms and dads took the time to share about the opportunity he or she had to share Jesus at Boeing with a co-worker? Maybe their kids would want to emulate them?
What if our expectation for each other was not to be present and accounted for in the pew, office space or small group, but actively pursuing those who are dying without knowing Jesus?
What if I expected my pastor to be out with the community, out with the lost and not always around to meet the needs of my congregation?
I need the Wednesday time of fellowship with the guys in this network, but I hope I need it for the right reason. I want to come back each week because I need the encouragement (or correction) after a tough week “in the field.”
Rant/Sermon complete. Now time to process this and live it!