I loved the Word of God as a teenager. After graduating from high school, I went to the Moody Bible Institute, achieving a BA in Biblical Studies. I went on to graduate school – spending 3 more years earning an MDiv. I have now pastored in four states over the last 33 years. I have lived in the expectations of ‘Pastor as CEO’. I have gone to many conferences on and labored over the latest methods of growing one’s church. I have tried to get into the mind of unchurched Harry and Mary. I have experienced the frustration of being unable to please many who came in the door of the church. I was unable to produce the kind of child care that makes their child want to go to church! Don’t get me wrong. We’re a good church. We honor the Word of God and worship in spirit and in truth. But I’m not the ‘best’ preacher in town and our worship isn’t cutting edge, just genuine. Many are opting for the mega-full-service church or simply adopting the ‘I-church’. ‘I-church’ is simply, ‘I go to church when and where I want when I feel like it.’ As Aspen Ridge Church has downsized I find myself a bi-vocational pastor for the first time.
But something amazing happened! I got out of the ghetto. I escaped my cage. I climbed out of the box. I spread my wings and discovered a different world. Don’t get me wrong I love to preach the Word. I still preach each week. I love God’s people – it is my greatest pleasure to see believers in Jesus Christ act on their faith and worship their King. It’s probably me, but living in the crucible of congregational expectations and community indifference can downright squeeze the life out of a person. Now that I’m free I’m engaged in two different community men’s groups. I pray each week with a group of folks who simply want to see revival in our community. I’m actively engaged in assisting a foster family. I respond to great Bible questions on ‘gotquestions.org’ several times a week. I’m in a reading club at the library. Last winter I got to teach the book of Ephesians to 15 Peruvians and 35 Columbians. They had lots of really good questions. Best of all I Uber. I can’t explain it. I’ll never get rich doing it. But when someone gets into my car I become a cross between a counselor and a bartender. Recently I gave a ride to an 84-year-old woman. As we traveled she told me that she was mad at God for taking her husband of 60 years, even after so many years of faithfully going to church. She said she continued to go to church because she had grandchildren she wanted God to treat well. As we visited back and forth, I asked God for words to share with her. Finally I said, ‘I hope you won’t be upset with me but I have a personal question to ask you.’ She said, ‘Go ahead.’ I asked, ‘Have you ever just spoken directly with God? I’m hearing that you value church and that you’ve been a faithful daughter of the church but I’m not hearing much about a relationship with God.’ She encouraged me to continue. ‘Have you ever just prayed directly to Jesus Christ and asked him to come into your life?’ She responded, ‘No I don’t believe I have.’ Then we stopped to pick up her granddaughter. 20 minutes later as we arrived back at her home, she leaned forward and looked me right in the eye. She said, ‘I’m going to think about what you said.’ She will never come to my church. She doesn’t even know my name. But I am out of the box of church expectations and into every nook and cranny in the city - and I love it! I’d like to teach apologetics and church history at a Christian High School. I love history. I’m an avid reader. I’ve raised three 20 somethings. I’m concerned about young people today growing up in the church and not being prepared to defend their faith in an antagonistic culture. Who knows what God has for me!
I still love to preach. I love to see believers live out their faith. I’m engaged with licensing and ordaining young pastors. I go to my denominational pastor’s meetings. But I don’t dream of growing a full-service church. I’d love to build a chapel one day. Just a place to worship and encourage one another. A place to be challenged with the Word before we go out and be the church 24-7. Now there’s a thought: the whole church escaping. All of us out of the box!