I'm always saddened when I talk with a pastor who has little good to say about his or her church. After serving in denominational ministry for several years I know there are some very dysfunctional churches out there. Some go beyond dysfunctional into the category of mean. Others are not dysfunctional or mean; they are just scared. They are so frightened that they might close that they become very resistant to new ideas. This frustrates the pastor who wants to lead them to a better place.
On the other hand, it is a joy to talk with a pastor who cannot say enough good things about his or her church. This past week I was speaking with a pastor who told me that last year the church set a record for giving and saw a large growth in membership. A few years ago this church allowed him to become bivocational, and it is working well for both the church and for him and his family.
A few weeks earlier I was talking with a pastor of a small church who told me they had baptized eight people that morning. Their little, rural church, led by a bivocational pastor, is having a great season of ministry.
Around the same time I was talking to someone who told me about the ministry of another church. This small church had an average attendance of about three dozen people a few years ago when they called a bivocational pastor. Today, they average well over 100 people every Sunday. They have developed an exciting youth ministry and are heavily involved in ministry to their community. They have expanded their parking and their facility.
These three churches all share a few commonalities. One, they are served by bivocational pastors. Two, they were all much smaller churches prior to their current pastor's arrival. Three, all of these pastors are serving in their first pastorate. Fourth, these pastors have all been in their churches for several years.
Several years ago I read a book that had a great impact on my life and ministry,The Heart of a Great Pastor: How to Grow Stronger and Thrive Wherever God Has Planted You by H. B. London, Jr. and Neil Wiseman. They wrote, "Most desirable places were difficult until a previous pastor loved the church into greatness. Face it - few Camelots exist in the ministry."
Elsewhere in the book they wrote, "Every assignment is holy ground because Jesus gave Himself for the people who live there. Every place is important because God wants you to accomplish something supernatural there. Every situation is special because ministry is needed there. Like Queen Esther, you have come to the Kingdom for a time like this."
Is your church a great place to serve? If so, it is because someone before you helped it become such a place. If not, then perhaps God has called you there to make it a great place. If that is the case, put down roots and plan to stay there until it becomes a great place of ministry. Outlive your critics and church controllers. Love your people and pray for them. Keep your eyes upon the One Who called you to this place and His vision for what this church can become. Do these things, and one day something supernatural will occur. The church will experience a spiritual breakthrough and wonderful things will begin to happen in and through the ministry of the church you serve.