We've been doing a thing with Lead Academy which has been interesting.
It's basically a learning community with about 20 churches exploring a plan for post-Covid church. We've had lots of good input - some better than others. I am generally struck by the constant pull of the US Megachurch and the 'go and do as Pastor X does' approach to teaching.
One chappy said this:
'People don't want sermons on Ephesians- they want something helpful'
I'll let you into a secret. I am not Andy Stanley. I've not written a book, I am not a 'high-performing' leader, I'm not that clever and I have so many shortfalls I could type them here all morning. I pastor a small local church. On the journey though , I've learnt a thing or two about the kingdom but no one will ever ask me to share this at conference.
I don't have a model or 'Five tools to grow you church' or the anointing of the 'super-apostle'.
I have nothing very wow to share.
Ministry boils down to four things (tomorrow of course these four might be different!):
1. Read/ dive into the Bible.
2. Pray and teach others to pray.
3. Care for your own soul (and look after your family if you have one).
4. Keep learning and reading
You will be absolutely amazed how little time pastors/ people working for churches spend doing these four things.
You can ignore these four and grow a church.
You can grow a church with human talent, money, driven-ness and an off the shelf model.
All of these are fine but not without 1 to 4
Read the Bible
The Bible is not a text book of theology or a model of how to live. It's a story we're invited to jump into. A pal arrived on my doorstep with a brand new five volume set of commentaries called Thru the Bible. I am currently using it as I read through Matthew each morning. It's great and it's helping the story come alive again.
I use the Daily Prayer app and the BCP takes you through all 150 psalms every 60 days. I am also reading this book on prayer which is blessing me. I am still reeling listening to Paul Miller say '90% of pastors admit to having no discernable prayer life'.
Care for your soul
Start by taking a Sabbath. It will be hard. There's lots to do I know. But you have to STOP. For the good of your soul.
Keep learning and reading
I always have a book on the go. I leave them open around the house. You'll be stunned how much you can read if you cut out Twitter and Instagram. I'm reading the Institutes on the loo. If you are wondering what to read, then get hold of Indelible Ink and choose a book that strikes you.
Do these four things and together we may, by grace, get to the end of the race having remained faithful and part of a local church and still loving Jesus.
I'm not there yet and I may fail yet- so we'll see.