What’s a FL Pastor Doing in the ID Wilderness?

Do you mean besides plugging leaks in plumbing piping?

Do you mean besides patching holes from woodpecker pecking?

Do you mean besides catching rest after capital campaign campaigning?

Short answer? He’s looking for help. Divine help. And lots of it.

I never tire of the view of the Clearwater Mountain range from our place. It regularly reminds me of Psalm 121:1-2.

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

Nancy and I come to our place each spring for a week of R & R along with two weeks of P & P & P (prayer, perspective, & planning).

The wilderness affords us the opportunity to step back from the demands of every day ministry so that I might attempt get the Lord’s view of the big picture back home. More than ever I sense the need for His help in knowing how to serve our church in moving into the future.

I felt led to bring these tools with me to aid in the process.

I sorted them from right to left into the three categories of my two-week, work-related pursuit here: pastoral, missional, and intellectual.

Sometimes I end emails with “You make me want to be a better pastor!” Do your best passages like 2 Tim. 2:15 persuade me that shepherds must seek God regularly to make them better servants of His flock. Piper’s Brothers, We Are Not Professionals, I have read twice before. I assigned it to our summer pastoral intern for our discussion. I read a chapter a day here and journal my thoughts.

Here’s a sample from chapter 9 – Brothers, Beware of Sacred Substitutes.

Ministry is its own worst enemy. It is not destroyed by the big, bad wolf of the world. It destroys itself. One survey of pastors asked, “What are the most common obstacles to spiritual growth?” The top three were busyness (83 percent), lack of discipline (73 percent), and interruptions (47 percent). Most of these interruptions and most of our busyness is ministry–related, not “worldly.” The great threat to our prayer and meditation on the Word of God is good ministry activity (pp. 59-60).

A passage like that makes me think reading Piper’s book again needs to happen more for my sake’s than Kevin’s.

That’s volume two of Ian Murray’s biography of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, arguably one of the best preachers of the 20th century. Alistair Begg called this work the most significant thing he has ever read. I finished part one last spring. Time to tackle part two this year. Witmer’s book is brand new to me. Our elders all possess a copy. The subtitle, Achieving Effective Shepherding in Your Church, intrigues me in light of our desire as leaders to shepherd well the flock of God entrusted to our care.

The manuals to the left came along with a recent upgrade to my Logos 4 Bible study software. I simply don’t have time to master thent components of this amazing program while going about my regular ministry. I hope to work through both these manuals while here so I can make better use of its resources to enhance my study of God’s word. I’ve finished volume one and have pressed on into volume two.

The stack in the middle possesses the greatest challenge for me. I call it the missional collection. All these titles possess similar content. They aim to help church leaders shape their ministries for effective outreach. Crouch’s book, Culture Making, comes highly recommended by our lead worshipper intern. I offered to read it along with Greg so we might discuss, among other things, how the arts might work as a medium for building bridges for the gospel.

The others all have their story as to how they got into my hands. I’ll close this post with some thoughts on just one more, Comeback Churches.

As soon as I saw that book with its particular title I jumped on it. After all, that’s what we’ve tried to make of OGC since 2002 – a comeback church. I’ve picked it up twice in the past only to stall in chapter two. Now seems to be the time. I’ve actually finished it at this writing. I found it gave me some helpful tracks to run on in evaluating how well we’ve done at OGC in becoming a “comeback church.” Stetzer and Dodson admit they start with a fundamental presupposition:

The wrong question is whether your church is “traditional” or “contemporary” and which is better. The real issue is whether your church is biblically faithful, acting as the presence of Christ in the community at large, able to relate Christ to people in culture, and is on mission. In short, is your church “missional” (p. 4)?

I pushed back in my reading at those places that smelled a bit overly pragmatic and church-growth-movement oriented, but all in all I sensed the Lord spoke to me through it. Some concrete ideas for planning, particularly related to outreach to our community, developed as a result.

I have often said that 2010 would mark the point at which I would step back and take a hard look at how we’ve done with Operation Nehemiah – Rebuilding the Walls at OGC. I find myself grateful to God here in Idaho for many ways God has worked over the last seven years in Orlando. But I sense no release at all from the Lord in terms of the rebuilding process until we accomplish, by His grace, two more things: building a facility and getting more thoroughly on mission.

Only one in ten churches in the US grows due to conversion. That makes this second remaining objective more daunting to me than the first. God must give the growth, but we must get better at sowing and watering the seed and I need to help lead us there.

May God give us grace and help to turn our eyes outward more consistently to the lost while remaining devoted to building up one another in our most holy faith.

And that’s what this citified FL pastor is doing in an Idaho wilderness place like this.

8 responses

  1. Did you bring “The Power In Prayer” and “The Power Of Prayer In A Believer’s Life,” both titles by Spurgeon? I can hardly put one down. The writing is so riveting and life-changing! (vintage Spurgeon, what else is new?)

  2. I’m glad you specified it was the books you brought. I was wondering why the teapot and mug were such a big deal.

    The term “missional” has been tainted in my mind by the emergents but I look forward to hearing about it!

  3. I’m not mad at you…you were predestined to passively threaten me with bodily harm. Hmm The Sovereignty of G-d in Bodily Harm…you just might be helping me out with my next blog post Jeff!

  4. No need to whack. Just make him take another bike ride in 190 degree heat. It was 50 on my deck this morning here in Idaho. 🙂

    • OUCH! That hurts more than anything Jeff could do to me! For the record I did learn from my bike ride o’ foolishness and now carry both water bottles full when I ride AND I did 10 miles last night. I’m was too sore to ride tonight, but that’s ok! I did it and had no issue of nearly passing out. Of course it was only 140 degrees which was a HUGE help…

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