The Value of Time Spent

This week I am in Reno with a couple of Grace Church elders attending the Acts 29 West Multiply Conference. The first day was good and encouraging and I expect the second day will be much of the same.

Often in attending meetings there is a conviction that we must gift the time spent a value to gauge if it was worthwhile. Without a doubt there are times wasted that are to be avoided but on the other side we may not find an immediate application or result of things gained. This can be a big deal for attending a Christian conference.

I have served in environments that were so ingrown that attending a conference was practically prohibited and if you went to one the leadership had to be convinced it was worthwhile and you would make the church bigger and shinier upon return. There was little value placed on enrichment.

But for a pastor in my circumstance, being enriched and encouraged by gospel preaching and equipping is a significant value. Relational connection with others laboring for the same types of churches and kingdom expansion is worthwhile. And the church I serve benefits from having elders challenged by new ideas whether there is immediate implementation or not.

Don’t let the strangeness of culture be your bar for setting value on time spent. In Christ our time spent looks vastly different and pays abundant dividends.


The Well Meaning Pastor is the Problem

Not long ago I had a conversation with some young men feeling called to vocational ministry and as we talked of what it means to be a faithful pastor, we mentioned a man we each had interacted with and I found myself saying, “he means well.”

But meaning well might be the problem.

Jim Hamilton has a new post on 9Marks about those “well-meaning” men that are treating Christianity as nothing more than a new form of therapy.

“The pastors who pose the greatest threat to the church today will confess belief in the right things. They will confess the authority and inerrancy of the Bible, that Jesus saves, and that he is the only way of salvation…”

“They are a threat because, in spite of their confession, their words and actions treat Christianity as nothing more than the best form of therapy. They treat it as self-help. They treat it as the path to better marriages, better parent-child relationships, better attitudes and performance at work, and on and on.”

Hamilton goes on to clearly state what Christianity is about primarily.

Christianity is about telling this true story in the words of the Bible so that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, people come to see God, the world, and themselves correctly.

Christianity is about the triune God and the two natures of Christ.

Christianity is about the Holy Spirit supernaturally causing people to be born again so that they love this story and find in it their hope and joy.

Christianity is about trusting the Word of God with all our hearts and not leaning on our own understanding—or on our own ideas about what works or what is relevant.

Christianity is about longing for the return of Christ, who, when he comes, will set up his kingdom, which means that this is not our home.

I found this very helpful in thinking through how we lead churches. And Hamilton gives great advice for churches looking for a pastor.

None of the books in my study are pop-physiology and I have no plan to go that route. I pray that more men in the pastorate would eventually agree.

Pastors caring for pastors

I enjoy the opportunities I have to interact with and encourage other pastors. One of my roles at our church is to serve other evangelical pastors and churches and I am on the board of our church association. There is so much pastors can sharpen each other on and ways we can encourage each other that those outside of vocation ministry can not. That being said… it is rare to find pastors willing to pour into each other.

Certainly the first priority of the pastor is to care for the flock entrusted to him and I understand that busy schedules can get in the way of building relationships, but most often this is not the reason we avoid each other. In the years I have interacted with other pastors I most often recognize insecurity and territorialism as the reasons there is no relationship. Sadly, this reality has a greater impact on the local church these men lead as they do not raise up new leaders but it also robs the kingdom of church unity.

“…insecurity and territorialism as the reasons there is no relationship…”

John Pond has some good cues for pastors on the Gospel Coalition. While his point is older pastors interacting with younger, I think his suggestions are useful for all pastor and really anyone looking to build a relationship.

Pond says we must be listeners; we should reflect on our similar experience; be careful to not make assumption about one another; and we must pray for each other.

I commend the whole post to you. Now go and build some relationships!