Don’t Despise Little Things

August 7, 2012

For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice” (Zechariah 4:10).

Zechariah was sent to encourage the continued building of the temple of God after the return from Babylon. Some who saw the temple and remembered Solomon’s temple, despised the new temple as it paled in comparison. Zechariah reminds the people, that Zerubbabel, the governor of Judea, will finish the temple, and it will be a grand thing, even though it will not be like Solomon’s. I am reminded of this verse today as I reflect on our VBS last week.

Our culture in North America is one of an ever increasing “bigger and better” nature. The only things that are ever seen as successful are the things that are bigger and better. Whether it’s who can build the tallest building, who can run the 100 meter dash the fastest, or who’s stadium can hold the most people, we only care about the biggest and the best. Unfortunately, for many of us, we will never be the biggest and the best. Does this mean we are unsuccessful in the task? Never!

In North America though, we view success in ministry in terms of numbers. Who has the most people at their services? Who has the most members, the most baptisms, the most children in Sunday School. It’s easy to become discouraged when you realize that your small little group of believers is never going to be “successful” when you view things in this light. Zechariah reminds us that we must not despise even the smallest works of God, for they are a time to rejoice in God’s work and provision. Some of you may not know yet, but our efforts to put on the first VBS at our church in years resulted in 3 children attending. To some, they would be extremely disappointed that for all the time and money they spent preparing for this VBS, that there were only three children. I think instead, you need to be incredibly excited that three children came regularly to hear the Word of God taught to them. Here’s some neat things about this VBS:

The children who attended all had familial connections to one of our church members. Why is that important? It’s important because it shows that the effort spent reaching out and inviting friends and families is not in vain, and that sometimes the best way to reach people with the Gospel is to build relationships with them.

The most awesome thing I heard was that these children would prefer to come to VBS than the carnival. Some were concerned that we would have low turnout because of the annual carnival last week, and surely it had an influence on our attendance. Yet, to hear those children say they would rather hear the Gospel, memorize Scripture, do crafts, play games, and hang out with a bunch of older folks, rather than go on all the rides at the carnival should be incredibly encouraging to you all.

It was wonderful to see our folks all come together and lend a hand to reach out to these children. Whether it was games, crafts, refreshments, teaching, helping, or whatever needed to be done, to see folks come together to work hard to make VBS enjoyable and Gospel-oriented is so encouraging for a pastor to see. I am so thankful for all of you and all the effort you put in. I hope you’ll plan to help us again next year as we continue to try to reach children and their families with the Gospel.

Think too about the Gospel that these children heard and saw demonstrated in the lives of those who served them last week. We do not know what kind of seed was planted or how God will make it grow. But I do know, that God’s Word never returns void. What a wonderful blessing to invest in the lives of these children with the riches of the Gospel.

Lastly, don’t stop the momentum of reaching out to children. We need help to start Sunday School this fall. Maybe these three children will be there too? We have no idea, but what we do know is it is our job to reach out to families with the truth of God’s Word.

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Why Pastors Need a Vacation

August 2, 2012

You may or may not have missed this blog too much. I missed connecting with you folks, but of course, but one of the reasons this was not updated was because I was away on vacation. And, in all honesty, I was glad to be away from this blog and the other burdens of pastoral ministry.

Please don’t get me wrong. My family and I are happy to be serving our little church and love them all. But just as everyone needs to get away for a little bit to rest and recharge, so does the pastor. And while we as pastors never “turn off” (we’re always thinking about the church and its needs), the change of venue and schedule can be just what we need in order to be even more effective as a minister of the Gospel. Let me give you a few reasons why it is so important for the pastor to “get away”.

 Rest

Frankly, all people need rest. And pastors are no different. The burdens of ministry weigh down on pastors in some ways, like no other job. As administrators, public speakers, public relations specialists, researches, counselors, and various other hats, we have lawyers educations, work doctors hours, and generally do not receive similar benefits. The minimum we can do is take some time away to rest and detach from ministry for our own sake and for the sake of our families who put up with a lot less attention because we are devoting our attention elsewhere. Sitting in our little cottage in the Finger Lakes, we could do as we please: go swimming, go to the park, go to the zoo, or simply stay in and read and relax. What a blessing it is to do so!

 Reflect

It is true that pastors never truly “turn off.” We don’t have a profession like others who don’t have to think about it when they aren’t doing it. If you work in a factory, I doubt you worry about your machine working properly while you are away. Yet, pastors do not have true replacements. We are always thinking about the life of our church and how we can grow and improve. Yet, it is in a different context. Without all the routine of regular church life, we can focus and think about the big picture and the situation we are all in and how to make improvements and adjustments. We might not have major epiphanies but we often can think differently about our ministry while away to the benefit of all.

 Relax

The burden of Sunday’s can be exhausting. Planning and executing, preaching and reading. It’s hard sometimes as the pastor to actually enjoy the worship service. When we are away, we attend other churches and we are able to sit, and participate like other believers and be fed. All too often, despite all the reading pastors do, we don’t get fed enough because we’re always busy feeding others. Being away in another church allows us to be fed so we can be strengthened to be able to feed you further. Plus, there is the benefit that you will able to be fed by a different person than me. While consistency is good and having the same person preach each week is the best idea, it’s good for you to hear other people as well, especially people in our own flock. I am thankful for the men of our church and their excellent job in filling in for me. I think if the Lord ever took me from this Church (God forbid!) you would be in capable hands!

 Recognize

Lastly, what this allows us to do is to recognize just how blessed we are. Even though we get to hear other preachers and be with other Christians, we are always reminded how much we miss our own people when we are away. We were glad to get away on vacation, but we recognize where we want to be is with our church family. Thank you everyone for providing for us the time away to sit back and relax and rest and review. The greatest benefit of all, is that it, Lord willing, makes me a better husband, father, and shepherd of God’s flock!

 We’re glad to be home!