My Hardest Lesson In Ministry


11 Jul 2012

If there has been a part of ministry that I have struggled with time and time again…it’s been waiting. Young and totally inexperienced when I first started serving as the creative pastor in my current church, I had plans to do a million different things to take our church to the next level. I had done a great deal of research on what all of the most modern churches in America were doing and I was ready to transform our ministry into the next Elevation, Life Church, Church on the Move, or North Point. I’m not even sure that my lead pastor, who brought me on staff because of his ambition to move our church forward, was prepared for the countless things that I wanted to accomplish. But then it happened… Founded in the late forties and full of members who have attended for decades, it was no easy task to introduce media and creative design into the services at my traditional church. I was faced with the harsh reality that this was not going to be an overnight change. Instead, I would go on to learn that “change” can be one of the hardest things to accomplish in a church. This is particularly true in smaller churches that have been around for quite some time. I write this as an “I HEAR YOU OUT” to everyone who has experienced the disappointment, discouragement, and frustration that comes when you desire to move forward, but are met with great opposition.

In my frustrations, I have contemplated merely settling for what has already been established…in essence—giving up. Maybe you have been there, too. Maybe you’ve gone through the “why bother’s” or the “whatever’s” like I have. I’m here to tell you that there is hope for you in this situation. (I can almost hear “This Is Not The End” by Gungor playing softly in the background of my mind as I type.) For whatever reason, God has placed you in your particular church at this specific time. I’m not one to believe that everyone is called to a single church for all of their days on this earth, but one thing is clear—at this current time in your life, God wants to use you to make a difference where you are. The gifts and skills that your Heavenly Father has equipped you with are there for a reason…use them!

I have discovered that instead of attempting to do all of the “latest and greatest” things, it’s much more profitable to sit down with your lead pastor and find what things he would like to accomplish first. Each church is unique and it’s important to use your energy on the things that will benefit your specific congregation and community. By starting with some small, attainable goals, you’ll be able to make some progress in your church that will gain the trust of your lead pastor and your congregation. Little improvements focused on the things that are important to your people will quickly build a reputation that you care about them and the church. This will help tremendously when you move on to something bigger that is new to them. Work with your lead pastor to create a list of projects that you would like to complete around the church and order them by how easily they can be completed. Focus on one of them at a time and work your hardest to complete them with excellence. I can remember one of the first projects that I worked on with my pastor was a sermon series that he was really passionate about. We did some small things like making invite cards and custom graphics that we used the whole duration of the series. (At the time, this was a very new concept for our congregation.) Using these creative elements proved to get our church family excited about what we were preaching and ignited their passion to invite others to come check it out. Through this, my pastor caught on to the vision of how powerful media can be and grew in anticipation for what we could do next.

Yes, you are going to meet opposition…expect it. By knowing that it’s on the way, you can be better prepared to deal with those people in love. Never forget that people will always be more important than your ideas. This doesn’t mean that you can never move forward with any plan that rubs someone the wrong way, but people come first. Like many things in ministry, it all comes back to keeping a good balance. Remember that the sole reason for your ministry is to use these creative tools to spread the message of Christ. All ideas, egos, and ambitions aside…it must come back to spreading the Gospel to people…and they are worth waiting for.

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Kendall Conner

Kendall Conner serves as the Creative Pastor at Piedmont Chapel in Greensboro, NC. He is a graphic designer, video editor, and all-around media geek, but above all enjoys seeing lives changed. Together with his beautiful wife, Holly, they strive to use media to spread the message of Christ and equip others for ministry.

Comments

  1. Lionel Sanchez : July 11, 2012 at 8:21 am

    Wow, great article!

  2. Anthony Caligiuri : July 11, 2012 at 9:07 am

    Pretty awesome man. Guess you already know who you’re speaking to! Preciate it buddy!

  3. Jesse Orndorff : July 11, 2012 at 9:11 am

    Wow, great post. Just what I needed to hear this evening!

  4. Kendall, great post and I completely understand this situation… olld church established nearly 100 years ago and primarily an elderly congregation. It has been a very slow process, however, we are finally gaining steam. Our people now understand what we are trying to accomplish. Much of our success in this area is due to our senior pastor who has clearly communicated to our people why it is necessary moving forward.

    One important thing I have learned in ministry…change is difficult. Any change that we attempt or even implement is treading on someone else’s “great idea.”

  5. This is a great post. My brother and I went through a similar situation at our church. I love your perspective and you nailed it. Don’t get discouraged. But at the same time don’t try to revolutionize overnight. Small adjustments get you to your destination. Sharp turns often take you into the ditch.

  6. Thanks kendall! It felt like you were talking about me in this article. God bless you.

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