The Stuff of the Local Church

This summer has been very busy as indicated by my lack of blogging.  In June I enjoyed a weekend with my in-laws that culminated in my being ordained by Ferguson Avenue Baptist Church.  On Sunday night Erika’s Dad preached the charge to the congregation.  It may be the only ordination charge ever preached that began in the book of Leviticus.  As we were leaving he said to me with great contentment, “Now this is the stuff of the local church.”

That statement has really hung with me this summer.  In many ways I feel like this has been the summer of the local church for me.  VBS, Children’s Camp and Youth Camp took up three of my weeks in July.  Just this past week I’ve attended a Deacon’s Meeting, an after church social event and a scavenger hunt.  On Sunday mornings our pastor has been preaching through Isaiah and on Sunday nights through Romans.  This is all the stuff of the local church.

I’ve come into ministry in the era of the celebrity Christian.  Anybody who is anybody has a successful blog, published books and a jam packed speaking schedule.  I graduated from seminary looking forward to having “a significant ministry,” whatever that is. Some might be surprised to know that books teaching pastors-to-be how to “dress for success” are sometimes recommended these days right alongside Grudem’s Systematic Theology.

All it takes is one week of VBS or children’s camp to redefine the phrase “significant ministry.”  For the last year, my wife and I have volunteered one Sunday every 2 months in the 3-year olds class during the 11 am service.  Suddenly, preparing a sermon to deliver to hundreds of adults seems a bit less impressive when you’re trying to figure out how to set a kid free from his one piece “Sunday go-to-meeting” clothes so he can go to the bathroom.  Wrangling a bunch of preschool children every week: now that’s a “significant ministry.”

I’m not trying to put down anyone else’s ministry as much as I’m trying to keep in mind the importance of local church ministry.  There is a tremendous temptation among men my age to brag about how busy they are.  The idea of a regional ministry or a national ministry is certainly appealing as are the frequent flier miles that come with it.  But the people who need to remain most significant are the ones in our own church.  They are the ones about whom we will be called to give an account.

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