what I wish I knew in college

Disclaimer: this post is specifically targeting college students who believe their life calling is to serve the local church.

 

Jesus is why I do what I do. He saved me, then called me into this thing called ‘ministry.’ I’ve been out of college for more than 6 years now. In my training to be an effective minister I was taught how to study the Bible, preach the Bible,  parse the greek language, etc. I also learned theology, history, and all about the apostle Paul. Early on in ministry I realized I would struggle in areas of ministry that no class directly addressed. From day one, I was the computer guy at our church because I was under 40 years of age. I was also the new sound guy, the website designer, video editor, camera man,  the chief graphic designer for our brochures, tracts, bulletins, etc. Within one year I found myself leading worship on stage with a guitar I’d only been playing for 9 monthsI had no experience with any of those things before ministry. I could tell you Paul’s life story, tell you about seraphim and cherubim, but I had little practical training for ministry. I knew how to preach and teach, but I wasn’t the head pastor, so I needed more skills to serve our church plant. Let me make clear that I do appreciate the knowledge and doctrine I learned in college. I understand that theology and right doctrine trump practicality all day. I’m not saying we should toss theology classes. However in most private and public universities more practical, hands on training is becoming the norm. I believe the same should be true in training for ministry. I did two summer internships in California that changed my life. However, even an internship has its limitations. I understand that colleges are limited in how much they can prepare an individual for life and ministry. That being said, here are a five things I’d recommend every student consider before graduating.

 

  1. If at all possible, play a musical instrument that can lead worship (not a Bass Clarinet). 
  2. Learn how to run and properly mix sound. It’s an invaluable skill today.
  3. Get a copy of Photoshop, Illustrator, or some kind of design software. Learn how to use it for ministry (printing, web design, etc.)
  4. Leverage technology. Today email, social media, and the internet offer the church new avenues to reach people. You will have to take the lead in all these areas.
  5. Be flexible. Understand that out of the gate, you may not be doing what you thought. You may have to learn some skills you thought weren’t part of ministry. I’m only 6 years out and I’ve learned so much about ministry, but a lot of ministry is  behind the scenes. Be willing to take care of whatever needs to be done.

 

Let me finish by encouraging you to stick with it. Ministry is awesome and rewarding, but it can have it’s moments too. I’ve had a pretty easy lot in ministry over all. The same may or may not be true for you. This post is meant to encourage you to add to your arsenal of tools and abilities with which to serve Jesus. 

 

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Grow your church quick: just another get rich quick scheme

We see them everyday. Signs, ads, commercials for stuff that is too good to be true. The majority of scams and schemes out there tell you they can make you an over night success. Many people believe these infomercials, emails, and websites, because they desire so badly to get rich quick. Others usually refer to these people ignorant, foolish, simple-minded, etc. Here are a few verses dealing with obtaining wealth.

Proverbs 23:4
Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it.

Proverbs 28:19-20
He who tills his land will have plenty of food, but he who follows empty pursuits will have poverty in plenty. A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who makes haste to be rich will not go unpunished.

Proverbs 14:15
The naive believes everything, but the sensible man considers his steps.

Now back to my title. What does this have to do with church? I believe the great majority of church leaders and pastors are falling for a spiritual version of the get rich quick scheme: grow you church quick. We watch videos about huge mega churches building new campuses and begin to desire to see our ministry do the same. We start reading about what other churches have done, and attempt to mimic their “success.” Millions of dollars are spent every year on book, conferences, resources, etc to show us how to grow our churches quickly. Don’t misunderstand me here, I am all for books, conferences and bettering ourselves and our ministries, but I am afraid many are walking away convinced success, growth, increase, can be built up in a year. Am i saying God can’t grow your church? No. Am I saying God doesn’t want to increase the kingdom? No. I am saying if we aren’t careful we’ll get so caught up in the “stuff” that goes along with growth, we’ll start chasing growth, buildings, success, and everything else except the main thing: growing the kingdom. Here’s my point: when a person starts trusting a scam, they start making poor decisions. When we as leaders start trusting in programs, ideas, processes instead of the power of the Holy Spirit, we will start making unwise decisions.

What is the goal? To grow the Kingdom? Let’s ask a tough question. For the kingdom to grow does your church have to have a 5 million dollar sanctuary? Or could your church send 100 missionaries and 5 million dollars around the world and do more for the kingdom? Kingdom mindedness takes the emphasis, glory, pride, possessions, away from us.

The sobering truth is this: anything worthwhile, takes a while. Apple, Microsoft, GE, Toyota, and Walmart didn’t become huge companies in one year, it took real hard work over a long period of time (sometimes generations). The hard truth is: impact takes time. People who want to get rich quick are always changing their minds. One day they want to start a business, the next they want to invest in a penny stock. They don’t stay focused on one thing long enough for it to work out for them. Many churches are acting the same way. One year the push is Upward sports, until it gets tough to find workers and growth didn’t happen as quickly as they’d hoped. The next year their main push is starting a new ministry (a new banner and cool name is all you need right?). The following year they quit that and start a TV ministry, but as that gets expensive and again nothing happens immediately, so they bail on it too. Ministry shouldn’t be a multiple personality disorder. It only shows our weakness for desiring quick easy success. There is nothing wrong with trying new things, but our generation is so addicted to instant gratification that we simply aren’t willing to wait on God to move and grow His church. We feel we must DO something NOW.  Our mission should remain unchanged as we use new methods over the long haul to grow the kingdom of God. Besides Jesus said He would build His church, so why do we exhaust ourselves attempting to do what only He can do?