Let me tell you about an incredible, self-effacing man of God nearing retirement. I’ll call him part-time Pastor Pete. He and his church will remain anonymous.
Part-time pastor Pete joined PLI’s Discipleship to Missional Community and introduced himself: “I’m not quite sure why I’m here. I guess I thought I owed it to myself and to our little congregation to see what God might do. We’re nothing like most of you. Ours is a forgotten, nearly abandoned, neglected building, in an urban area surrounded mostly by hospitals and office buildings. The 15 or so odd collection of folks that worship are a mixed bunch.”
With that introduction, part-time pastor Pete pushed out onto a journey like the disciples did to the deeper waters at the invitation of Jesus.
(We frequently remind leaders that they don’t need to “have it all together.” Big or small…vibrant or not. They can simply start building on what already exists and learn to trust God in ways they maybe haven’t before.)
That cohort loved part-time pastor Pete. Encouraged him. Celebrated his small wins. Empathized with his disappointments…
…his fears that he might try and it not work steadily subsided.
Perfect love casts out fear.
Hope started to emerge.
And, there was a growing sense that a neighborhood where the Gospel was growing increasingly dim might see it shine again.
Pete had a plan. A simple plan…
They’d keep loving “the least of these” that made up their 15 worshipers. And, on the first Monday of the month they’d serve coffee–just once a month, but every month–to the hospital and office building parkers in their parking lot.
And, they’d offer to pray. Listen. Offer a word of encouragement.
And it worked! Their little, mostly forgotten, almost abandoned, urban church…it worked!
They were figuring out how to be present in their urban neighborhood. And to earn the right to proclaim Good News!
Add… a myriad of conversations. A Bible study. A baptism or two. A prison wedding (it’s a long story!). Some more small but significant milestones. 50% growth in worship attendance. And, they continued to keep on loving each other in the congregation.
And then one, maybe two, miracles?!
Two godly, gifted men that had been searching and visiting churches for two years, found a home with Pastor Pete and the congregation.
The second one is taking shape at present. An amazing one.
Miraculous? I think so.
And, it looks like the light of the Gospel that was fading away appears like it might shine. And vibrantly shine as miracle two comes together.
Part-time pastor Pete…
- Continued to trust the Spirit to work through the Word in the church and in the parking lot.
- Figured out a starting point to be present, and be known, in their urban neighborhood.
- Started to invite a few to follow him as he tried to follow Jesus.
- And God is blowing life into what looked like a small valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37).
Someday I hope to be able to tell you more of this incredible story and introduce you to the real part-time pastor Pete.
The light of the Gospel is growing dim in all types of places these days. And then, every once in a while there’s a leader like a part-time pastor Pete that refuses to let the story of a congregation come to “The End” with all the odds stacked against him.
They don’t settle for the line… If I were in a better neighborhood… had better members… had more money. If I were smarter… younger/older… more extroverted…
My sense is that there are a lot of leaders facing absolutely enormous obstacles that simply need permission to dream and imagine and a little bit of help.
So, if you think you might owe it to yourself or to the people that you lead, PLI would love to help. Contact Raechel today!