Three Accidents That Did Not Happen at Your Church

May 21, 2018

If you are the pastor I met in Richmond, Virginia recently, thank you.

Thank you for your encouragement. Thank you for your faithfulness. And thank you for your wise words about pastors and struggles: “It is good to know I am not alone.” Your words were meaningful. Your words were powerful.

You were speaking about the thousands of church leaders at Church Answers. You were speaking about the number one benefit you get from being in this safe community. You see the vulnerability, the lack of pretense, and the acknowledgments of struggles among other pastors and church leaders. It is a constant and encouraging reminder you are not alone.

I want to share those same words with the community who reads this blog post. I want you to know you are not alone. Ministry can be tough. Ministry can be frustrating. Ministry can even be depressing. But ministry in the local church can also be one of the greatest joys you’ve ever known.

Allow me to give you three reminders. It is my prayer these three brief points will be a source of encouragement and hope for you. It is my prayer they will be used by God to encourage you to keep pressing on. I simply call them the three accidents that did not happen at your church.

  1. Your church address is not an accident. God placed your church where it is for a reason. You might be dealing with deferred maintenance issues in your building. You might be wishing your facility was up to 1980 standards. You might long for a faster-growing demographic. You might desire a more visible location. But God put you at your church address for very specific reasons. Celebrate your location. Celebrate your place in the world God has called you to minister.
  2. Your community is not an accident. Perhaps there was a day when the community surrounding your church looked more like the people in your church. Perhaps the community was much younger than it is today. Perhaps the community members eagerly attended your church in the past, but not today. Keep in mind, the community where God has your church located today is not an accident. He put the people there, and he wants your church to embrace them, love them, and reach them. Don’t bemoan your community. Celebrate your community.
  3. Your calling is not an accident. God called you to salvation. God called you to ministry. And God called you to the church where you are serving. God does not have accidents. Your calling is not an accident. He has you at your church for specific and powerful reasons. Love the church you have now instead of the church you wish was there. You have been called to them. It is an incredible opportunity. It is an incredible ministry.

You are not alone in your ministry challenges. Thousands upon thousands of church leaders experience the same challenges every day and every week.

Even more, you are not alone because God is with you. Your church address is not an accident. Your community is not an accident. And your calling is not an accident. God is in it all. God is the power of it all.

Celebrate these realities. You were called to this specific church in this specific community at this specific time.

It is truly a God-given opportunity.

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11 Comments

  • D avi d Tro ub lefi led, DM in says on

    When the church has experienced sustained biblical growth, it also was not accidentally. Instead–and as God describes in His Word–someone consistently functioned in intentional, strategical, and relational ways directed toward both the community and the congregation. Those ways are common knowledge, but these days some might have accidentally forgotten them :-)) See: Andy Anderson’s Church Growth Spiral resources for the whats, hows, and whys.

  • Excellent post, Dr. Thom!

    My personal thinking: 1 Corinthians 12 is explicit that God has placed each member in the body … in the local church … as and where HE wants them. If we do an A+ job of teaching, reproving, correcting, and training in the ways of righteousness, then God can be expected to send us more folks to turn into disciples.

    There’s an old (supposedly derogative) mantra that says, when a church builds a new building, its focus tends to turn inward. Well, it SHOULD! That’s where it has to be to make disciples! But instead, we seem to beat folks about the head and shoulders about evangelism! But the Great Commission is to make disciples, not converts.

    Infect the local members with the real depth and breadth of the incredible gift of salvation, and they’ll tell others about this wonderful thing that happened to them.

    I’m betting that happened 2,000 years ago.

  • Great post!

    Very encouraging.

    Best

    Gary
    Southern NH, USA

  • Thanks for a much-needed reminder on Monday!

  • Amen and Amen! Beautifully put. I have been starting ministries and churches for forty years; all of which turned out to be right place and right time…..Unknown to me at the time.

  • Thank you for the reminder. As I offer people when they are emotional about something and they apologize for their emotions: own what is yours and don’t apologize for something that is intrinsically you.

    One helpful thing I remind myself is the function of churches when they were founded way back when (in our case in 1642) – the church was responsible for the community in which it exists, not for the structure that it occupies. That’s why churches were referred to as Parishes as opposed to congregations. Our buildings may suffer but the opportunity of ministry is always there – outside the walls of your building.