For Lent this year, instead of giving up something, I went the route of adding something. For me, adding something during this holy season always had a little more effective than giving something up. I prefer to do something reflective, creative and focused. I have done the Rethink Church Instagram photo a day for a few years.

This year I decided to reflect on the 15 years of ministry I have experienced. I came up with a different truth about my experience in ministry for the 46 days of Lent (just a reminder you don’t count Sundays in the 40 days of Lent…so I had to write 6 more). I wanted to approach this journey the same way I approach ministry, with humor and honesty.

I decided to share all 46 of my #Ministrytruths tweets from #Lent2018 here, in one place.

  1. It is an honor to be invited behind the doors of the intimate moments of people’s lives. I am invited to sit by the dying & pray with newborns. I am invited to celebrations, parties, & waiting rooms. Ministry is an invitation to share life with people.
  2. Ministry is an emotional rollercoaster. I stood in line to get on this ride, but I had no clue how steep and fast some of the hills were nor how tight the corners are some days.
  3. Part of me knows I wear a robe because of my fear I’ll preach a sermon with my zipper down.
  4. Finding God in the silence is easy. Finding God in the midst of the chaos of 5 minutes before worship is extremely difficult.
  5. People’s expectations are impossible to live up to.
  6. On Ash Wednesday I introduced myself to someone I saw on Christmas Eve. He listens to my sermons online and is slowly attempting to come and join us for worship. What we offer people online means a lot to the unchurched.
  7. If I had to choose one piece of office equipment I couldn’t live without, it would be the folding machine, definitely the folding machine!
  8. I grew up scared to talk and read in front of people. I still get nervous. Each week, when I step behind a pulpit, is simply a sign God desires to and does work through me, in spite of me.
  9. I am not a fan of “Social Media Theology” because my God is bigger and more complex than the number of characters in a Tweet. Also, irony is not lost on me.
  10. Some Sunday mornings I don’t want to go to church either.
  11. One of my favorite parts of worship is holding my wife’s hand, at the prayer rail, while we say the Lord’s Prayer.
  12. Sometimes at parties, I open a conversation up with, “I’m a pastor,” just because I don’t want to talk to anyone.
  13. Children are the only age group named in Wesley’s historical questions for ordination. However, many ministers spend time with older adults because they whine a lot louder than the children. May we make the children of our congregation a priority, always.
  14. I lament the fact I cannot be a father who can teach his children how to sing from a hymnal.
  15. Eventually, I understood in my heart that the work of ministry is never done. When I let that sink in I finally gave myself permission to be comfortable with taking a Sabbath. Ministry is never done and it is okay to rest in the midst of the incomplete.
  16. I wear a robe and stole because like an athlete who wears a jersey on game day, it puts me in the right frame of mind and readies my soul to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  17. While mountain biking over Old Fort Mountain, a man walked out of the rhododendrons with a shotgun and two dogs on chains. He handed me and my friend a track and then disappeared into the woods again. This is not quality evangelism.
  18. Every Sunday, as the acolytes light the candles on the altar, I kneel at the prayer rail and pray, “Lord, may what we do today, in some way, glorify your Holy name.”
  19. Ministry would be great if it weren’t for people.
  20. One of the hardest parts of preaching is learning when I am talking and when God is talking, and then shutting myself up.
  21. I look at my bookshelf and I don’t know whether to be saddened by all the books I haven’t read or impressed by all the ones I have.
  22. If you want to see the true nature and faith of a local church, visit a budget-planning meeting in November when that congregation is in the red.
  23. Most days there is nothing I would rather do with my life than ministry in the local church. Some days I wish I there was a plan B.
  24. I wish people knew I can see them sleeping during worship.
  25. Preaching is an art form. People do it differently because we are all different. 15 years in I am still crafting, building, and exploring what my style.
  26. A church’s marquee sign is simply my chance to misspell in public.
  27. One of the best things that happened at my current appointment is my wife and I have friends who aren’t church members.
  28. One of the aspects of leading worship that breaks my heart is I can’t sit next to my kids during worship and one of the best aspects is I don’t have to sit next to my kids in worship.
  29. I look at the stains left on the pulpit from preachers of the past and I thank them for their witness, dedication, and love for the church. I also wonder whose hands will grip the pulpit when my time here is done, what church will I leave for them?
  30. Never let laity help you move in, there is too much judgment on the stuff you choose to own or were given as gifts.
  31. Ministry can be extremely lonely because no one wants you to be you. What they really want is you to be a clone of their favorite pastor.
  32. The future of the church isn’t your children and youth. The future of the church is the guest who walked into the sanctuary for the first time.
  33. Taking a congregation from 75 in worship to 95 involves just as much, if not more, talent, patience, and creativity as it does to take a congregation from 300 to 500.
  34. There is no cookie cutter for great church leadership. Only a person willing to check their ego and use the God-given gifts, talents, and abilities will become a great leader. Be the “you” God created you to be.
  35. I became a better pastor when I stopped apologizing for not being everything to everyone.
  36. On this journey of ministry, I have learned there are times when I should simply stop what I am doing and pray. My go-to is John Wesley’s Covenant Prayer…”I am no longer my own, but yours…”
  37. There are only two constants in life and the life of a church, change and the love of God.
  38. Youth are not the future of the church, they ARE the church. When you treat them as members of the local church, you get youth who feel invested, loved, appreciated and a strong sense of belonging.
  39. Sermon illustrations should come from all aspects of life. As preachers, if we only use illustrations from our family, our favorite movies, or things in OUR world, we will miss out on the Word being heard by a wider audience.
  40. For many pastors, this is hell week. It is very hard to be in a place to receive the grace, power, and love which happens this week in the midst of the never-ending TO-DO list. Holy Week starts when Easter worship ends because we can breathe again.
  41. “I have to work tomorrow,” is always a great excuse to leave a Saturday night gathering early.
  42. When it comes to the high holy days, Christmas Eve and Easter, don’t attempt to be ultra creative.  Save that for other Sundays. Simply preach the story. Let the Incarnation and Resurrection speak for themselves. There is great power in those stories.
  43. There is nothing more humbling than allowing your feet to be washed and to wash another person’s feet.
  44. Good Friday is one of the most powerful and holiest days of the Christian year. It is a shame more people do not worship on the day our Lord died.
  45. Holy Saturday is a gift of rest, a chance to take a breath and to mourn in the midst of the Triduum. (Triduum is a very churchy word for the three services which are in essence, one giant worship service, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday)
  46. “Christ is Risen,” is one of my favorite phrases.

One thought on “#Ministrytruth

  1. Jim, I thoroughly agree with you about the sanctity of Good Friday worship. I feel my Easter observance is hollow without worshipping on Good Friday. Picking up this column for UM Insight. Thank you!


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