2 Takeaways from 20 Years in Ministry

It’s hard to believe the 20 year marker in ministry is almost here. It seems like yesterday that I felt the Lord’s call early that Monday morning in 2001. Our daughter was 2, our son was only a few months old and I didn’t have a clue about anything! It’s funny how time, experience, and walking with the Lord work together to shape a life. Today my children are 20 and 18 and I’ve learned that parenting looks different for each couple or person and there isn’t a one size fits all formula to follow. I’ve completed 3 degrees and simply learned how learn. After graduating in 2011 with my master’s degree I said, “I now have a master’s degree and have mastered nothing!” I’ve served in multiple ministry roles in 3 states and each time I started a new role it felt as if I were starting over: more to learn!

I’m grateful to the Lord for the family He has given us. We are able to pass on what we’ve learned to younger parents while still receiving encouragement from the older ones. The education I’ve received has served me well. I encourage the students I’m teaching at Clear Creek Baptist Bible College to focus on learning principles rather than rote memorization. (Although memorization has gotten me through a class or two!) I encourage new pastors and staff members to enjoy their new roles; taking the time to really get to know the people to whom they are ministering. Allow them to teach you!

20 years of ministry can provide much fodder for advice while at the same time teaching that in order to achieve another 20 years one should keep listening, learning, and teaching others. (2 Tim 2:2) I definitely haven’t arrived (and never will), but at the same time I’ve found myself sharing 2 basic ministry takeaways that I’ve learned since 2001. 

  1. Study and practice biblical evangelism.

The Lord’s mandate to go to all peoples and make disciples (Matt. 28:18-20) applies to all believers. Some are gifted evangelists, but all are commanded to evangelize. The church planters with whom I work on a daily basis have varying issues to deal with each time we talk. A constant concern relates to their evangelistic habits and effectiveness. Pastors, church leaders, members, and others all desire to see more baptisms and disciples being made. These simply cannot happen without studying and practicing biblical evangelism. 

Reader, do you feel adequately trained to share the Good News of the gospel with those around you? Does your church provide yearly training? Have you sought help in the form of participating in a local, state, or video/podcast training event? Do you as a pastor/church staff have a plan to teach and model biblical evangelism each week? Do you or your church set evangelistic goals each year? I had a church member ask me when I was going to stop talking about evangelism and my response was, “whenever Jesus comes back or I die.” We don’t know when either of those are going to happen, so let’s share the Good News with a lost and dying world while we have time!

  1. Learn about and practice biblical disciple-making

Intentional disciple-making is making a comeback in churches today. Twenty years ago, when I began to learn about my call to the ministry, the only understanding of discipleship I had was related to the Sunday evening Discipleship Training hour. When I think about it today I realize that it did have it’s benefits: believers dove deeper into God’s Word in a personal and group setting, various topics and disciplines were covered, and the pastor was able to interact with a smaller group of believers. It also had it’s limitations. It was often pastor-lead (simply another preaching point), the interaction between the discipler and the disciple was often low, and accountability for practical application was not built into the design of the program. 

Pastors, churches, and other leaders are now building their own disciple-making initiatives designed to meet their specific needs. I have personally used a “leadership lab” method to train a group of 3-5 more mature believers to study theology, practical ministry, and to remain accountable in evangelizing and disciple-making. I also love Robby Gallaty’s concept of D-Groups and personally use a one on one disciple-making method from Billy Hanks Jr.’s Operation Multiplication. 

Pastor, planter, believer, how are you currently working to pour yourself into one or more believers? Does your church have a strategy to not only disciple those currently attending, but those the Lord is bringing into your flock as newborn Christians? How seriously are we taking the mandate of our Lord from Matt. 28:18-20?

I’m looking forward to the lessons for the next 20 years; mostly-some lessons are hard ones to learn! But what I continue to strive for is to encourage believers in evangelism and disciple-making.   

( Post is found here as well.)

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