A Humble Letter To Big-Time Pastors
I’m a young pastor who is just getting started in ministry. Like many other young pastors, I have immersed myself into church culture and mainstream Christianity. I’ve been reading your books, listening to your podcasts, attending the big conferences and learning from experienced pastors like yourself. I watch you from a distance. I see you leading people well, I see you celebrating,and I see you making timely, risky decisions that grow your ministry. I also see how you handle difficult situations, and sometimes I can read between the lines and see when you are under spiritual attack. I pray for you during those times. You don’t know me personally, but you have had a huge influence on my life and my ministry. Much of what I’ve learned in ministry, I have learned from you.
I have to be honest with you, though. I have learned a few things from you that have hurt more than they have helped. Some of what I have learned from you has crippled me as a spiritual leader and local church pastor. I know this wasn’t your intention, but after years of following you, paired with my sinful, selfish ambition, I’ve developed a lopsided framework by which I view ministry. I have made many decisions from this framework that I regret. As I’m putting together a new framework, I’m finding myself praying that the next generation of pastors could be better informed. It bothers me deeply to consider that they, like me, might be viewing ministry through the same broken, clouded lens that I have for so long. Here are a few examples:
#1. I have learned how to grow a church, but I’m still learning how to grow people.
You have taught me a lot of church growth techniques that really do work. I feel like I actually know a ton about growing a church. I know statistics, tricks, marketing techniques and all kinds of church growth “hacks.” You taught me well. However, I’m still fumbling the ball when it comes to helping people grow spiritually beyond Sunday morning. Sure, I know how to create church environments where people can grow, but I don’t know how to actually help someone move from “here to there” in their relationship with God. Personally, if Sunday morning didn’t exist, then my ministry probably wouldn’t exist either. Please teach me how to grow people instead of a church.
#2. I have learned how to build a personal following, but I’m still learning how to build Jesus’ following.
Over the last 10 years, I’ve watched you build a following. It’s been really cool to watch your journey. You were on the cutting edge when social media hit and you leveraged all kinds of technology to build a huge personal brand. I was fascinated by you. I loved your personality, your passion and your brand. I loved you so much that I began to mimic you, and in mimicking you I began to see fruit in my own ministry. You taught me so much about building a following. Then, one day, I realized that I actually liked you more than I liked Jesus. I know you didn’t intend that, and I’m sure that it would break your heart to know this, but it’s the reality. Then, when I realized that I liked you more than Jesus, it occurred to me that if I continued this journey of mimicking you, people might start liking me more than Jesus. And that would suck. That’s the last thing I want. So now, I’m on a journey trying to figure out how to build Jesus’ following, not my own. How do I do this? Please teach me how to build Jesus’ following, not my own.
#3. I have learned how to create an impactful Sunday morning church service, but I’m still learning how to live a life that makes a difference.
My entire view of Christianity centers around Sunday morning. Sunday morning is my big day. And I get it, in this culture, Sunday morning is very important. If there is no Sunday morning then people don’t even consider us a church, they won’t participate and … they won’t give financially. So we all do Sunday morning. And you taught me how to do Sunday morning really well. But I’m afraid I’ve learned how to do ministry in a way that sustains my salary instead of learning to live life in a way that sustains Jesus’ legacy. I haven’t lived my life in a way that makes a big impact for God beyond Sunday. I haven’t served the poor. I haven’t cared for orphans. My church has, but I haven’t. I haven’t lived my life in a way that would leave my neighbors (the actual people who live beside me) asking faith questions. When I take an honest look at my life, I do not see where I have made an impact beyond Sunday. Can you help me learn how to live a life that makes a difference, even on Thursday?
My motivation for writing this letter isn’t to bash anyone. I’m writing because I genuinely see these gaps in my life and I’m inviting you to leverage your influence in such a way to help me. I really want to make a big deal out of Jesus, not me, or my church, or anything else. This year, I will live my life intentionally so that people can have new life in Christ. 2015 and beyond isn’t about a church, or my name, or my platform. From this day forward, it’s about Jesus.
A Young Pastor
Bill Rose grew up in Dallas, TX. A series of events led to his placement in an orphanage at age 9. He came to faith as a teenager and immediately knew that one day he would lead others to that same faith by becoming a Pastor. Adopted at age 16, Bill has overcome all odds and has since shared his story with hundreds of audiences. Today Bill and his wife, Whitney, are the lead pastors of a brand new church in Holly Springs, NC called Oasis Church.
More from Bill Rose or visit Bill at http://www.billrosespeaks.com/