One of my mentors in ministry recently left this earth for his eternal residence. I was working in retail management when Pam and I joined Pastor Jim Whorton’s church. I went to work in the church right away. Jim told the Director of Missions I’d make a good youth minister for one of the churches in the Dayton area. The Director of Missions gave my name to a local church, within weeks I was serving as Youth Pastor.
I look back on my time as youth pastor there and realize though I had served in youth ministries of churches for eight years, I had no idea how to lead a fruitful youth ministry. Don’t get me wrong, it was a very fruitful youth ministry. We had five teens my first Sunday as Youth Pastor. By the end of two years, forty-five were involved in weekly activities. Sunday morning Bible study attendance grew from five to twenty, one class to two. Our church saw several teen baptisms each year. Despite my pedagogical teaching style on Sunday mornings, God grew His kingdom.
God has taught me and blessed me every place He has led me to serve. All the credit goes to God, for I know from whence I came. Oftentimes in ministry, I believe we rest heavily on the side of rationale and short on relevance. Our teaching may be relevant to God’s word, but not relevant for practical application in the lives of our members. Christianity is not only learning about God and His desire for our lives. All teaching to which we ascribe should lead people to apply each week.
Most pastors would tell you that is the way they teach. Yet our churches are falling short. From not sharing our faith, not voting biblical values, lifestyle choices, our teaching is not translating to transformed lives. Regardless of the time (years) spent in church, the outside culture has more influence on the lives of “Christians” than the church. Pastors would also lay the reasoning at the feet of the believer, “It’s their fault.” While certain responsibility indeed falls on each believer, my contention is that as leaders we must provide opportunities for learning through application if we want to change the culture inside the church and have any Godly effect on the culture outside the church building.
Most of Jesus’ teachings were not in a classroom or behind a pulpit. His teaching came in His daily living, sitting in the living room of a crowded house, at a meal, besides the seashore, or walking along the road. He practiced as He taught. His Disciples watched Him in action as He interacted with the world. Then He sent them out to do likewise. While you cannot walk with every member of your church or class, as leaders we must find opportunities to serve our communities – in ways that have grown unaccustomed to our nature. Remember, many of Jesus’ methodologies went against the traditions of the religious leaders. We are not called to be religious leaders, but shepherds and followers of Christ. How will you challenge yourself to be more of a Jesus leader from this day forward? Jim Whorton was a Jesus leader.