I Appreciate My Pastors

 

Here’s a quick blog to remind us that October is Pastor Appreciation month. Frankly, it feels a tad weird to be writing this being that I am currently serving with my church as a pastor. But, it is important to understand that pastors also need pastoring, and I am very grateful to God for the pastors he has placed in my life along the way. As a matter of fact, I was blessed today with the opportunity to play some golf with one of those special pastors.

If you are wondering why there needs to be a specific, calendared time to honor and show appreciation to pastors, let me encourage you with these few words.

First of all, the desire to be appreciated is not absent in the hearts of pastors. They are just as encouraged and filled with joy as the next person when someone shares their appreciation for the work they do. Simply put, it just feels good to know someone is noticing your efforts and is thankful for your faithfulness to do your job well. Make no mistake, pastors’ motives behind their work is never to be about gaining the appreciation of men…but that doesn’t mean they have to shun genuine honor and appreciation when it is given.

Also, God is clear in his word that those who serve in the role of pastor should be shown appreciation and honor. 1 Timothy 5:17 says, “Let the elders (pastors) who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.” Yes, that does mean that pastors are instructed and expected to lead well. But, it also very plainly points to the role of all believers to show their pastors the honor and appreciation of which they are worthy.

In my time on this earth, it has been a real privilege to count several men who have pastored me. God has used these men to greatly influence my life, and to continually point me towards Him. They have served and lead well as pastors, and today I am praying God’s blessings on them, their families, and their ministries.

If you go to church…you’re doing it wrong.

 

I’m sure this statement might seem odd at first glance, “If you go to church, you’re doing it wrong.”

Truth is, the “church” never has been and never will be a place or a thing. From the time Jesus instituted the church, it has always been a people. In fact, the original Greek word for church is “ekklesia”, and it means those who are called out, or an assembly or meeting of those who are called out. Most frequently in the New Testament the word is used to describe a gathering or group of people who have professed their belief in Jesus and are meeting together to worship him.

So, you and I (as followers of Jesus Christ) are the church. And, if you are a faithful follower, you are most assuredly actively practicing and growing in your faith as part of a local church somewhere relatively close to your home. To keep from getting into a whole universal church discussion, we’ll stick to the idea of a local church.

As part of a local church body of believers in Jesus Christ, you are the church no matter where you find yourself. When you gather together for meetings or services, you are the church. When you leave that gathering, and go your separate ways, you are still the church. Paul tells us that “we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us” in 2 Corinthians 5:20. God intends that his appeal, through our lives, will happen on a 365 day a year, 24 hours a day basis.

So, why is it necessarily doing it wrong if we simply “go to” church? It’s wrong, because you and I are truly the church, and because “church” is not a place we go or a thing we do. It is something we are, and there is no time-out or pause in God’s plan to use his church. When we say that we are “going to church” or we point at a building and say, “that’s the church we go to”, we minimize the universal importance of Jesus’ church.

Interestingly enough, this past weekend a popular pastor tweeted that church was “off to a good start this weekend.” While most pastors clearly know and understand that the people are the church, many still misappropriate the use of the word. My supposition here is that our personal vernacular plays an integral part in us living out what we believe. Our word choice and usage begin to shape or reshape our thinking, and our thinking leads to our practical living.

If we simply “go to” church, it becomes very easy for an unhealthy disconnect to develop in our beliefs and our practices in our daily lives. Unhealthy, because we tend to live a certain way when we are “at church”, and totally different when on our own. Placing your faith and trust in Jesus Christ, and inviting him to be Lord and Savior in your life is a complete takeover, with no room for disconnects in our faith & practice.

Try it out for yourself in the coming days. Use the phrases “church services, church family, and church building/campus” instead of the default “church”. See if it doesn’t begin to make you consider what you are saying, and build a growing understanding of what it is to be the church. Let your heart be overjoyed by the concept of “going to meet with the church” rather than simply going to church.

Remember, always, that you are the church, and make that amazing truth part of your life every single day.