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Posts Tagged ‘Hidden Gems’

According to the Urban Dictionary, this was a phrase that developed in the 90’s and was made famous by Larry the Cable Guy.  While it has many applications, the gist is the idea that we need to stop talking about it and do something.  The focus becomes accomplishing something.  The process is often secondary to the completion of a task.

I was raised in a world where professionalism was the focus.  I was taught that God requires nothing less than our best.  I spent hours focusing on a process and project to make sure that it was the best.  This was true of the worship service as well.  We wanted people to practice and be prepared.  We focused on the best singers singing for all the special Sundays (Easter, Christmas, Mother’s Day, etc).  We often had visitors on those days and  we wanted our best to be on display.

I remember my first few months in rural ministry.  I sat on the platform focused on all the things that I would start to change.  Believe me,  this church could use a good dose of structure and organization.  It needed someone to show them how worship should be done.  Fortunately, I promised myself and God that I would not make any changes for the first year.  I would seek to learn why they did things the way they did.  What I learned was that the “Git Er Done” mentality was often sourced in a tender, humble heart for God.  I watched as people were moved not by the performance, but by the attempt at performance.  I watched as God honored in a very unique way the “Get Er Done” world of rural ministry.

Next month starts my 25th year as Pastor of this church.  In 24 years, I am the one who has changed.  I still practice my message each week, but I don’t force my world view on the congregation.  I have come to realize that a 9 year old boy playing the piano for special music on Mother’s Day probably touched more hearts than any professional song.  I am not dismissing God using talented people and I am glad He does.  I think rural ministry allows us the opportunity to involve people who would not get a chance in larger ministries.  The focus seems to be less on the process and more on the outcome.  And when I can have a church where people feel safe to “try” and serve God, I watch as they develop the confidence to serve God in the real world as well.

THOT – What would happen if we really opened our services up to people who were willing to just try and be a part of the service?  Jesus took 12 guys with no ministry background.  He taught them, allowed them to fail, and used them to reach an entire world.  What would happen if we focused more on “Gittin Er Done” and less on the process?

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I have just finished teaching through the book of Ecclesiastes.  In 30 years of preaching, I have never preached through the book and I am amazed at the practical lessons for our culture.  One of the lessons that had the greatest impact on me was the need to focus on what we have right now.  Life is short and the focus needs to be on appreciating what God has given me at this moment in time.  I must see it as an incredible gift from Him.  I see a tremendous application for small church ministry.  So for the next few months, I am going to focus on the great things about being in a small church ministry in no particular order.

Inter Generational Ministry.

I was raised in large churches where teaching and worship were often segregated and we learned the value of surrounding ourselves with like minded peers.  It helped me to learn how to choose good friends, but I did not gain a lot of wisdom from someone who was my age. I needed wisdom from someone who had experienced all that life has to throw at them.

As my sons moved out and got married, I encouraged them to find a good church and get involved.  After searching, I found them back at the same church where their “dad” was also their pastor.  When I asked them about this, they mentioned that this is where they had genuine friends and relationship.  I later realized the relationships they were talking about were with people from 30 – 60 years old.  As they explained to me, this is a place where they have helped actually build the building.  They worked side by side with the men and woman in our church.  These were their trusted friends.  These are the people that showed them how to do “life”

I have watched as many of these people have invested in my boys and their families.  We have a number of families who invite them over to have supper and spend time with them and their wife.  While they were teens, I was concerned because they did not get a chance to be involved in a large “peer” ministry like I got to experience.  I have come to realize that I was the one who missed out.

While many of us complain that we cannot have the programs of the large church, we must not miss the opportunity to develop something the larger churches are not offering.  We have the opportunity to link generations together every Sunday.

Here are some things we are trying.  We recently combined our youth with our adults during Sunday School.  I now watch kids talking with adults and adults asking the kids about their week. I have a family who has a teenager and they invite couples of all ages to their home once every 2 or 3 weeks for supper.  The teen gets a say in who they invite.  I have older couples who invites teens over after church for lunch.  We encourage our adults to sit with the teens and kids at potluck fellowship once a month. We encourage everyone to focus on one kid that they build a relationship with them by speaking to them each week.  In our culture, these are the kinds of things that cannot happen in a large ministry, but because of the smaller church where everything is open and people are in close contact, we have the opportunity to do some of these things.

The scripture speaks of the “older” folks teaching the “younger” folks.  I think it is a very accurate picture of “community” that so many people seem to be seeking.  It is something that the smaller church does almost organically because of its size.  And I have found it to be one the great Hidden Gems in rural ministry.

THOT: What are you doing to encourage  the inter generational aspect of your ministry?

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