Looking Back on What Mattered Most

ministrypeopleNearing the end of my pastoral ministry of 39 years at Mayfair-Plymouth, I find the people of my church reflecting very little on any achievements I’ve accomplished among them. Mostly, they reminisce about the relationship I’ve had with them.

I don’t hear them saying, “I remember that amazing program you launched and how…” Instead, I hear them saying, “I remember the time you said to me…” Or, “Remember the time we were on that camping trip and you…”

Tim Keller, in his book Center Church, writes that in the large church the skill of preaching is very important, but that in the smaller church it’s the one-on-one relationship which gains the preacher the respect to be heard.

In An Unhurried Life Alan Fadling asks concerning the standards by which we measure success in ministry, “Do our conversations about ministry revolve around growing numbers of participants, successful programs or other easily measured outcomes? Or do we tell stories about particular people who are responding to Jesus, stories of seeds of gospel truth sown in people’s hearts that will grow into fruit of Christlikeness?” (An Unhurried Life, Alan Fadling, 2013, IVP, loc 360)

I know, we need programs and projects. These are the tangibles of ministry. Yet, these are but the vessels, the plate and the chalice, that hold the body and blood of Christ we share through relationships with His people.

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One Response to Looking Back on What Mattered Most

  1. Bobbie Chapman says:

    For the most part, even in large churches, the people hear little of what we say but long remember the late night hospital visit, the ICU vigil that you sat with family, the time you took time and had coffee together; the time you took the kids out for an afternoon giving a harried mother a respite, the time you were complimentary about something they did, the remembered occasions, the prayers………. Like with Jesus, it is relationship and leading by example.

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