to those trying to break in

i had a cup of coffee last saturday morning with a delightful young man named nick rogers.  nick is a bible college graduate whom i met several years ago through a mutual friend.  in a lot of ways, nick is typical of many of the young ministerial candidates i encounter these days: he is smart, disillusioned with “church as we know it,” culturally aware, profoundly passionate, and unapologetically determined to pursue the mission of jesus in the earth.  currently, nick describes himself as “living missionally in corporate America, volunteering at a church-planting church, trying to figure out what a church would look like if/when I’m ever the lead guy.”

in the interest of full-disclosure, i must tell you that nick has a wildly inflated opinion of my perspective (oh, how i wish i were as erudite as some people think i am!).

nick emailed a list of really insightful questions (i.e.: “How have you come to terms with your place in God’s kingdom?  What kind of people have you found to be attracted to the type of faith community you lead?  What values do you hold most dear?  What cautionary tales would you weave for an individual like me who may be following a ministry parallel to your own?”) and i really enjoyed our time together.

as i drove away, though, i hurt for nick.  i am intimately aware of his current frustration and the struggles he is facing.  rather than embracing young idealists, the church in america has become more adept a chewing up dreams and spitting them out. program-laden mega-churches seem to be dominating the landscape.  more fellowships are closing than new ones are being planted.  money is tight.  how does a god-called young man with big dreams stay hopeful in such an environment?

well, i have a word for nick (and you may feel free to eavesdrop, dear reader).

as you described the life you are living, i saw much to celebrate.  you named several students from your fellowship who are training for ministry.  i know by experience that kids pursue ministry when someone models ministry properly.  they want to follow jesus because someone they love and admire looked like they were having fun following jesus.  too, you talked about several instances where jesus has used you in the marketplace to expand the kingdom–that’s something most “professional preachers” do not have the opportunity (nor the guts) to do.  lives are being changed because you are connected to jesus and they are connected to you.  can you think of a better definition of ministry.

i know how you feel, nick.  you know that god has gifted you and prepared you to do ministry and you want to give your whole life to that endeavor.  i know how you feel and, more importantly, god knows how you feel.  here is my advice to you, nick (and it is worth exactly what you paid for it): don’t quit.  keep striving and growing and pursuing. preparation never stops and we never truly arrive.  the church of tomorrow will not look like the church of today (and it will look nothing like the church of yesterday) and the lord is molding a handful of warrior-servants who will be capable of representing jesus to the next generation.

i admire you, nick (and many more out there like you), and i am eager to affirm you in your journey.  i would be honored if you would use my shoulders to stand on.

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3 thoughts on “to those trying to break in

  1. I needed to hear that right now. In a lot of ways like Nick, I myself am trying to enter ministry. I am just shy of graduating Bible College myself. I work in a place that most “proper christians” look down upon and wouldn’t go near if they had to. I have been criticized for my work, but I just look at them and say that someone has to reach people where they are hurting. Jesus hung out with the scum of His day when you really think about it. The “church” of His day was appalled by His actions.
    There are days where I get tired of chasing this dream that God has given me. I can understand why so many people say that they are going into ministry and give up so early. I understand the emotional and spiritual anguish. And it breaks my heart that so many are discouraged about going into ministry, not only from the outside, but from people within the “church.” I get tired of the legalism, the religion, and the outright politics of church. It seems as though the more I get myself into ministry, the more that I find to be appalled by. I miss that naive feeling that I once had of how the church operated. Sometimes I honestly believe that I am still pursuing ministry because I am too stubborn to give up, well that and I have reached the point of no return and I don’t have a backup plan. I have wanted to give up so many times, but God won’t let me let go of the dream that He has given me. I’ve tried to run from God, I’ve tried to run from missions, and I honestly don’t see how anyone can run away from it when nothing else comes close to being fulfilling to oneself as the passion that God has given them (if that makes any sense at all).
    I pray that the Church of tomorrow is passionate about reaching people. I pray that it isn’t a generation of half-hearted, lukewarm christians. And I pray that I never lose the passion and the vision that God has given to me.

  2. Here is what I have learned in my “church ministry experience”…DO NOT allow people to cloud your passion and the God given direction in your life. Too many times lead ministers, well we have only been children or youth ministers so we have always been under someone, strongly encourage you to get on the path that they are on and adopt the ideas that are important to them. While I whole heartedly agree with the “Team” philosophy of ministry I have not seen that particular philosophy walked out, it has been more of a “I” in team sort of situation. God has been speaking to me this week about haste. We are eager to do God’s work, and be where he wants us to be, and do what he wants us to do, and minister to who he wants us to minister to, that we are like a dog chasing their tail. Often times the devil can use our zeal and passion for God against us and the result can be….a life of haste. Only you know the gift that God has given you, only you know the dreams that he has placed in your heart for his kingdome, so no matter where you are at or what you find yourself doing always make sure that it comes in full circle of HIS goal for your life. Ministry is TOUGH at best…… if you aren’t where HE wants you to be. Lord I am sorry for not being where you wanted me to be and for living a life of haste…

  3. Today there are more churches than ever, bigger churches than ever and more programs than ever, yet there are NOT more christians than ever. Society and polls shows Christianity has gone down in numbers. How can we have more churches/programs and thousands in attendance and have less people following Christ. Just a thought. ‘Modern’ mega churches have tried to become ‘relevant’ in today’s society, but it’s not changing society. ‘Their’ way seems to be increasing numbers, but is it building the kingdom? (Maybe, but whose kingdom)? Maybe we should be breaking OUT and not IN!

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