3. Many people assume the church is the building and ministry only happens in that building.
Seriously, people’s ecclesiology is often misguided. The church (ekklesia) is the people of God, right? It’s the gathering of those who have been redeemed. And ministry is what all followers of Jesus are supposed to be doing at all times of their lives, especially when they are outside the walls of the church gatherings. Yes, insert reminder of being missional here.
Here’s what I found out: Even if you are constantly telling people ministry should take place outside the walls of the building, you are unknowingly contradicting those imperatives by constantly having all of the ministry you personally do happen in that building!
When you get out of the church office and into the lives of the community, you start demonstrating ministry happens beyond the church walls. In fact, the divide between the “sacred” and “secular” begins to thin and people start to see how the kingdom of God is a present reality in the day-to-day operations of life.
Why? Because the pastor doesn’t sit in his “sacred” office all week long anymore. He’s out rubbing shoulders with people in the community and being an example of what a missional community understands is important: loving people where they are at and inviting them to know and experience the grace of Jesus and his kingdom!
4. You can send your kids to childcare or you could include them in your ministry.
I know I’m painting with some broad brush strokes here, so let me just explain what I mean.
I have seen a lot of families suffer as a result of ministry. Ministry life has a way of confusing people and causing family priorities to compete with the concept of “serving the Lord.” Therefore, spouses and children suffer because a person in ministry will spend hours upon hours doing … well, stuff that is supposedly all about the kingdom. The apostle Paul wrote that “if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8). Yet there are literally thousands upon thousands of families who have suffered at the hand of “ministry.” I started out down that road, spending nearly 50 to 60 hours a week doing what I was sure was serving God. Thankfully my wife and some close friends were able to help me get out of that destructive rut.
So one of the ways I’ve sought to avoid hurting my family and to pastor them and to pastor the congregation is to include my kids in ministry stuff. Since you are in a rural community, your wife is probably working a part-time job because rural churches rarely have large enough congregations to pay you the big bucks. If you have a college and/or seminary education, you may have some pretty heavy school loans on top of your mortgage/rent and car costs. The extra money helps.
It’s hard to take a couple young kids to a church building and expect them to watch Veggie Tales for eight hours while you twiddle your thumbs waiting for the mass of people to finally realize you are waiting for them so you can minister to them. Could you watch Veggie Tales for eight hours? I certainly couldn’t. Coloring can only distract your kids for so long. And there is no way your 3-year-old is going to sit in your office with you, staring at your book shelves in wide-eyed awe (trust me on that one).
For these reasons, rather than sending kids to some sort of child care, I actually take my kids with me for many of the visits I’ll do and have them around when I’m meeting with people. Why? Because I believe my first responsibility of pastoring is toward my family. My kids are under my role as a pastor in a special and unique way. I don’t want them to despise God or the kingdom because they were never a part of the amazing things I get to see or be a part of. Rather, I want them to be included and grow up learning how to participate in these things and to see them as normal, not as some foreign concepts that happened outside of our family.
Having my kids around has helped me slow down and enjoy ministry more, too. Plus (and this is the selfish part of me talking here), those difficult meetings you sometimes have to have are a lot smoother when a couple cute kids are running around. Most adults who are angry tend to calm down when they see a pair of bright eyes and bushy tales hanging out with their dad. The cuss words fly a little slower (most of the time).
Pastor, get out of the church office and include your spouse and kids in your life of ministry!