For the first time ever on my blog, I have invited a guest to share some excellent thoughts with us on church growth. Josh Bush is one of the most humble and encouraging Christians you will ever meet, and is one of the “up and coming” young leaders in our denomination. Josh is the pastor of Cross Point Free Will Baptist Church in Wichita, Kansas, where he ministers with his wife Jennifer and their three children.
Recently he celebrated 10 years in the pastorate, and he shares with us 10 things he has learned over those years – all great points that we can all benefit from. Thanks, Josh!
This month my wife and I celebrate our 10th year in pastoral ministry. God has been good! Here are some thoughts I wrote entitled “10 things I’ve learned in 10 years of pastoral ministry”.
1. God will build His church. Remember, it’s God’s church and He alone can build it. We are only vessels He uses. We are not smart enough to build God’s church. Programs do not build God’s church. The Lord builds His church.
2. People will leave the church. Some die, some move, some are led, some get mad and leave. Do not take it so personal. I’ve learned God will send others in their place because it is His church and His work.
3. The enemy will try to discourage you to the point of giving up. There were many times I wanted to give up, especially in my first 5 years as pastor. WA Criswell who pastored First Baptist Dallas for 50 years said his one key to success is “It’s always too soon to quit.” Tough times will come, be steadfast and immovable and God will see you through.
4. God will provide. This is a difficult thing to remember. People are not the providers of the ministry, God is. However, God provides through the tithes and offerings of His people. Do not look to people for provision, look to God. God owns the cattle on the thousand hills!
5. Your family is your first ministry. My wife and kids are my first ministry. Sometimes you have to say no to others to protect your time with family. If you neglect your family, they will grow to resent the ministry. Remember also, your wife and children are church members too.
6. There is no substitute for the Word of God. As shepherds, our primary responsibility is to feed the flock. Feed them the Word, not a substitute. The Word of God will help God’s people grow and be rooted and grounded in love.
7. Outreach must be a priority. People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care. Be a church known for giving, not receiving. The more outward focused your church is, the less time you have to fight and fuss about inward things.
8. Giving to missions is not an option. The heart beat of God is missions. God honors a church that gives according to His heart. I’ve never known a church that died that was actively supporting missions financially.
9. Love people. It’s really that simple. Love covers the multitude of sins. People will forget your sermons, but they will not forget when you love them in their time of need.
10. Aim to please God above all others. It is impossible to please everyone at the same time. We really have an audience of One to please, our God in heaven. Ultimately, we will give an account to Him not others.