By Kyle Bueermann
I feel like I’m often repeating a phrase when I visit with friends who are in ministry: “Ministry is hard.” And it’s true.
Please don’t misunderstand me; I love everything (well, almost everything) about ministry. But just because I feel with every fiber in my being that this is my calling in life doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Early mornings and late nights take a toll. So do weird glances and snide comments from church members. Oh, and don’t forget the ever-present, “some people are saying” remarks, too.
Some Sundays feel like everything went perfectly.
The praise team was in tune and on the beat, the video and sound guys were actually paying attention, the sermon connected with the congregation. People wept, the altar was filled, and dozens were saved.
Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But you get the point: occasionally, things just work.
Then there are those other Sundays.
You can’t tell if the praise team is even on the same song, let alone the same key. The video guy may have fallen asleep and the sound guy–wait, where’d he go?
The crowd was sparse because it was a holiday weekend, or a few couples went to see the grandkids, or the Cowboys played at 11:00.
The sermon fell flat, the altar stayed empty, and the offering plate was as light as a feather.
It can be tempting to judge the “success” of ministry based on the ebb and flow of Sunday mornings. If we aren’t careful, we can begin to see the Sunday morning worship gathering as our “showtime.”
The lights come on, the crowd waits in anticipation, and we need to deliver a flawless performance. If you wrestle with this, like I do from time to time, let me share a word of encouragement with you.
Our calling is simple.
In the replanting world, we use four words to convey the non-negotiables of ministry: preach, pray, love, and stay. These aren’t flashy. They don’t necessarily lead to book deals and conference-speaking slots.
But they’re essential.
Our calling is to faithfully proclaim the Word week in and week out.
When you feel like it and when you don’t. When you feel studied up and when you’re not. When you have a few perfectly punctuated points, and when you couldn’t alliterate a sermon point to save your life.
Our calling is to faithfully pray for your people and teach them to pray.
It’s to take that deacon or church member whom you really can’t stand before the throne and ask the Father for just a bit more patience to deal with them.
Our calling is to faithfully love your people.
To spend time with them in the hospital and in their living rooms. To spend time at track meets, soccer games, and cookouts. These are the people God has entrusted to you. Love them well.
Our calling is to faithfully stay put.
On those Monday mornings after a rough Sunday, it can be very tempting to check the job boards to find a church that’s not nearly as messed up as yours.
Like that one you saw last week with a bigger congregation and a bigger salary package. I bet they don’t have these kinds of people there. (Narrator: They do.)
So, pastor, remain faithful.
Trust He’s moving in ways you can’t see or even imagine. Trust His Word is working on the hearts of His people. Trust they’re being formed, however slowly, into the image of Christ.
Open your Bible, and take a look at the text for Sunday. Plead with God to work powerfully in your own life as He uses you to work in the lives of those you shepherd.
Then rest in Him. He’s got this. Remain faithful.
KYLE BUEERMANN (@kylebueermann) co-authored Replanting Rural Churches and is the pastor of First Baptist Church of Alamogordo, New Mexico, director of replanter development for the North American Mission Board, and co-host of Not Another Baptist Podcast.