As I write this, I am finishing 30 years in ministry here at MCC. It does not seem like 30 years. I must have started when I was 10! It only seems like 30 years when I look back at everything that has happened. We’ve met in three different locations. I have served alongside 17 different ministers. We raised over $3,000,000 in three different building campaigns. We’ve seen Sunday schools, small groups, youth groups, NET groups, support groups, and LIFE groups. We’ve had street ministries, homeless ministries, food ministries, community-based outreach, mission trips, and school partnerships. I’ve had the privilege of watching a whole generation grow up and become adults who are now working alongside us, challenging and leading us. God has been so good. I have learned a few lessons along the way. These are not things that I read in book to share. These are things that I have learned the hard way. And some of them I am re-learning. The best lessons are like that. God teaches us new parts to them all the time.
Team. Everything worth doing well is worth building a team to do it. Ministry works best in community. None of this is our singular project. We work together to accomplish what God is doing in our church. It is worth building a good leadership team. It is worth building good ministry teams. It's worth doing good LIFE Group teams. It's worth building good teaching teams. When we work together, we accomplish more. Teams take more time, but they share the ministry so that everyone can be a part.
Faithfulness matters. Longevity builds trust. When God looks over the earth, he isn’t looking for the tall, or the good looking, or the intelligent, or the successful. (Thank goodness. Those don’t describe most of us.) He's looking for the faithful. Anyone can be faithful. He is looking for those who live a life consistently and sustained for Him. Faithfulness matters in ministry. Not just faithfulness to God, but faithfulness to a calling. In the end, faithfulness will speak louder than any one decision that was made or truth that was spoken.
Relationships are the hardest and best part of life. Our greatest joys and our greatest hurts come from relationships. When relationships are going great – there is nothing like it. When they are not – there is nothing like it. And yet, relationship is the most important investment we can make in people. It opens the door for love, for laughter, for celebration. Relationships open the door for help, support, and care. Relationships open the door for truth and faith to be shared. Over these years, we have had friends come and go. Some transferred to other parts of the country. Others drifted out of our church. And it is painful to have people leave. But what is the alternative? Never let anyone in? In the church, life is done in relationships with each other. We can’t wait for relationships to come to us. Relationships are worth pursuing.
And I am not done learning lessons. God is not done teaching. Growth is a constant a part of what we do. Life transformation is a constant process. It is good to look back, but that can’t keep us from looking forward. And I am looking forward to what God has for us next.