We asked pastors of some of the nation’s largest churches to reflect on the wisdom they’ve gained along their ministry journey. There’s a lot we can glean in the words that follow, regardless of the scope and circumstances of our own ministry.
The Church of Eleven22 in Jacksonville, Florida
We preach the gospel over and over again. I think the modern-day “seeker” isn’t interested in an elaborate bait and switch of “First make my life better, and then tell me about eternal life.” I think the modern-day “seeker” would be a person that says, “Just give me the total bill of goods upfront—what are you asking me to sign up for?” Which is the gospel: Surrender your life. We’re just authentic with people about discovering a relationship with Jesus, and we preach from the Bible.
We are equipping our people with a #OneMore philosophy. We started a #OneMore initiative in hopes that every one of our folks would be actively praying for that one more person to surrender to Jesus. Then, as a way of partnering with our people in helping that #OneMore discover a relationship with Jesus, we let our folks know when #OneMore weekends are coming, which, in our opinion, are the best weekends to bring nonbelievers to hear a clear, gospel presentation. Our folks really got into that.
The fact that I get to be the pastor of this thing is one of God’s great graces upon me. I totally don’t deserve it. I’m not qualified for it. I’m ill-equipped, and there are a lot of guys with a whole bunch more talent than me. And yet, for whatever reason, he chose to put me in this seat.
On a very personal level, I coach my son’s baseball team for two reasons: because I want to be a good dad, but also because one of my most strategic mission fields is the Little League field. This year, I got to baptize one of the boys from my team. On the baseball field I don’t preach sermons or anything; I just coach ball, and this family has been attending for years now, and now he has a saving knowledge of Jesus through the ministry of the church but also through knowing our family and me being his coach.
This last year, I was reminded of something that Pastor Wayne Cordeiro taught me a couple years ago: Never apologize for your anointing; walk in it. In 2 Samuel 5:12, it says, “And David knew that the Lord had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.”
Historically, throughout the Scriptures, God picked certain people to be in certain places to do a thing for the glory of God and for the joy of his people. So, when you’re in a position of spiritual leadership, you should neither walk with a swagger nor a limp. You should just walk in the ministry God has given you, knowing that it is God who equipped you, anointed and appointed you for the leadership he has given you.
There should be a class in Bible school or seminary called “All the Stuff You Actually Do as a Pastor,” where they teach things like human resources, budgets, real estate, employee evaluations, etc. There is very little leadership training in seminary, and I wish I had trained in that stuff initially.
Put yourself around people who are smarter than you. Just ask people you think you could learn from if they would teach you something. And lastly, let dead guys mentor you. Be intentional about reading books written by people like John Calvin and Martin Luther.
I think that the church being an agent of healing and change is really a gospel issue. When you learn through the gospel that because Christ accepted you even though you were unacceptable, then it could lead you, as a church, to accept people even when they are doing unacceptable things. Because Christ’s bloodshed made a way for us to be right with the Lord, it was also shed for these people who are far from him. Also, it’s my experience that it’s impossible to win over your enemies; you win over your friends.
THE CHURCH OF ELEVEN22
A 2017 OUTREACH 100 CHURCH
Growth in 2016: +842 (12%)