It's pastor appreciation month and, as usual, the church has plans to honor its pastors on October, 25th. I want to beat them to the punch, though, and be the first to share my deep appreciation and love for them.
“I’m (pastor) Mitch and I Love Summitview” (a slightly edited re-post from last year)
In my mind, the church is local and the church is specific. It is impossible for me to write anything about my love for the church, but I should be constrained to write of my love for my church. I know the church is not mine in the possessive sense. When I say “my church” I mean the local church with which I live and that has captivated my heart. If you will graciously indulge me, I will speak of my love for that church, for it is all I know.
So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. (1 Peter 5.1-4)I love my church because;
- They worship Jesus. They don’t worship their leaders. They don’t worship their preaching. They don’t worship their programs. They don’t worship their worship. When the congregation comes together to “proclaim His excellencies,” they actually do it and IN TRUTH. I love the loss of self in that room every Sunday. Their voices boom and it always brings me to tears because they are my friends (see #4). Their worship uniquely points me to Christ!
- The men are strong. Last week I sat in a room full of two year-olds and 5 grown men singing songs complete with undignified motions – but oh the dignity that prevailed in that classroom! The men in my church understand that masculinity is about more about expending your strength in pursuit of Hebrews 12:1-2 than in pursuit of Proverbs 31:3. Not matter how much you pad it spiritually; manhood is not about finding that thing that makes men come alive if that thing is not Christ. My brothers have this conviction.
- The women are beautiful. There are many beautiful ladies in my church. They may not find any affirmation for their beauty in Vanity Fair (in either Bunyan’s or the newsstand version), but with grace, kindness, gentleness, compassion and zeal they bear the image of God.
- They are my friends. I know the struggles Family X has faced with Leukemia. I prayed with the man across the room this week. We prayed about his marriage and asked God for grace in his work. His worship is profound to me because I know the crucible that has refined it. Seeing their worship AND knowing their story speaks God’s satisfying goodness to my soul.
- Everyone calls me Mitch. I am their “Pastor”... but only when required. I am a brother first but, because God requires, my authority is respected and, dare I say, celebrated. The church is faithful to Hebrews 13:7,17 for God’s glory and for their advantage, not because of my respectable pedigree. Authority is valued but no one is extra special. They can correct me and they always follow me. I would be nothing without their words and their prayers.
- In my church, asking for forgiveness is not an aberration. Admitting you’re wrong is a sign of weakness and my church boasts in that weakness so that the power of Christ may rest upon them. They value repentance. They respect repentance. They know that all Gospel glory is preceded by repentance and they know repentance means change.
- They are generous. When the world is fearful and hording more, my church gives more. They are eager for the chance to exchange their Benjamins for eternal things. I think we could hide our giving boxes and they would still find a way to give. Every month, knowing things are tight, one of our families finds a way to anonymously give my family a $50 grocery card. Last week a brother asked me to be the courier of a bit of cash to friends who needed it. They love giving not the credit.
- They’re serious about their kids. They don’t just want good kids. They pray for worshippers. They are diligent with their biblical responsibility and diligent with their prayers. They understand Psalm 127 - the whole thing. They support each other in the culturally odd, totally exhausting efforts of being moms and dads.
- They are they. The building is a church building. They programs are church programs. In these sentences "church" is an adjective. When it is a noun, it represents the collective. Our church will exist underground, online or in the air, it is not the context that defines us it is the community.
- “See how they love each other!” They love in action and in truth. They love by cooking meals for the new moms and the sick friends. They love by speaking the truth at the risk of friendship. They love by loving Jesus supremely and find freedom to love in his ultimate affirmation.
- I appreciate my co-pastor, John Meyer. He has been my pastor for 13 years now and God has given me so much through his life. I owe my biblical worldview, my appreciation for creation and the Creator, my calling into ministry and my hand motions to John. It is a great joy to pastor with him and the amazing team of ministry directors God has given our church. I would not be following Christ if it were not for these men.
It may seem that I see no error in my church and, for that slant, I make no apologies. The error I see, I see between nails and wood. It is my privilege and it is His command to focus on my church's beauty:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4.8)Without apology, I love my church.