As I continue to come alongside pastors to encourage and try to give some practical advice, I am constantly reminded how hard many of these men are working. Barna informs us in one of his recent market studies that 45% of pastors under the age of 45 have considered quitting full-time ministry. He points out that pastors say “stress in the ministry” is their number one challenge.
I’m sure there are many reasons for the stress. But here is one simple consideration:
When our young, dedicated, hard-working pastors are preparing their expository sermons, are they wearing themselves out trying to come up with new and catchy “bullet points” every week for their powerpoint graphics and handouts? ….Instead of just preaching the Word of God verse-by-verse?….Letting the Word of God do the work?
Someone recently asked me how to share his faith in Christ with his family. I asked him if he had thought of writing a letter. If you have ever wondered the same thing, tweak the following letter idea – it might be a good starting point for you:
This is your brother/sister/etc, _________. I wish I could sit with you right now and share with you what is currently so heavy on my heart. Years go by so fast and then all of a sudden we realize that all of us are near the end of this journey called life. We have already lost some of our family, and as your brother I am troubled and ashamed that I have not taken more time to tell you my story.
As all of you know, my life has included many ups and downs. Many blessings and many mistakes. And unfortunately many decisions and steps that I have taken over the years that I am not proud of. Using a religious word, over the years I have “sinned” often.
A number of years ago, God made clear to me that I am a lost sinner not deserving anything good from God. At the same time He opened my eyes to an incredible promise. All of a sudden I understood that even while I have been a rebellious sinner, all along the way He has loved me, and that 2,000 years ago He offered me a wonderful gift. He offered me forgiveness for not only all of the sins I have committed in the past but sins committed today and even in the future. I began to see clearly that my sins could not just be ignored but that God loved me,___________ so much that He had His own Son, Jesus Christ take responsibility for all the sins in my life and actually pay the penalty for them.
When Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died on the cross, He was taking ownership of my wicked sins and paying the price for them. My sins could not be just overlooked. Just like a “speeding ticket”, they had to be paid for. Every single one of them. You see, Jesus Christ took my place. He traded places with me. He was judged and He paid what I owed for my sins. The price was His death on the cross. He was condemned and died in my place.
Then out of love for me, He offered me full forgiveness, if I would admit my guilt and invite Him to be my savior. In a sense, He offered to trade places with me. He took my guilt. He suffered. He paid the price that I owed.
Guys. You know that I am no great religious person. I am not writing this letter to look down at you or to condemn you. I am writing to you because I love you and I want more then anything else in the world to share with you this wonderful promise from God for you and me.
I am not urging you to go to church. I am not telling you to be a religious person . I am not encouraging you to get baptized or join some church. I just know personally how wonderful it is to have peace with God. I am not afraid to die. I have not earned salvation, forgiveness or heaven. But I have confessed my guilt before God and I have invited Jesus Christ to take my place – to wipe out the guilt of my sin with His own death and resurrection on my behalf.
I have real peace with God. I love Him. I am incredibly grateful for what Jesus Christ did for me when He died for me. When I die, I will not die as a religious person, but I will die as a person who has been forgiven. I look forward to heaven. I look forward to eternity. And I can’t think of anything greater than to spend eternity with you.
Please forgive me, even now, if you think I am being a preacher. That’s not my goal. I am just your brother who loves you very much and wants the very best for you for eternity.
I wish I could explain all of this better. Just remember, God loves you. Jesus died in your place. Pray and thank God for His love for you. Pray and ask Jesus Christ to forgive you and to be your personal savior. Don’t worry about fancy words.
I love you. I will be praying for God’s very best in your life.
I bet if you want to know more about this, just ask the Lord to bring someone into your life who can talk about it with you, and bingo…. He will answer that prayer.
Many Pastors and Churches are struggling today. They need encouragement. Kathleen and I feel so privileged to have had a few chances to plant churches, assist struggling churches, encourage Pastors, and help restart churches in our 50+ years of ministry.
A year ago, after 9 amazing years at Village Bible Church, we both felt a growing desire from the Lord to encourage Village to think ahead to the next 20 to 30 years, and put together a Search Committee to find God’s man and his wife to lead Village Bible into that future.
Beginning in March this year, we will be sent out by Village Bible Church to encourage struggling ministries and Pastors. We will serve under “One More Church, Inc.”, a non-profit church ministry which will provide support for us, overseen by a board of Godly men who will provide ongoing advice and accountability. We invite you to enjoy the story of our journey in this ministry online at www.onemorechurch.com
As we leave Village Bible Church in Greenwood, Indiana, the most urgent need we have is for your prayers as we go to wherever the Lord leads – to a church which could use a little help, or to plant a new church where one is needed.
And, if the Lord gives you the desire to support One More Church financially, donations can be written to Village Bible Church (695 Pushville Rd., Greenwood, IN 46143), with a note in the memo line, “One More Church”.
We can’t wait to see what God will do in your lives and in ours!!!