Christian living, DIY, Ministry

Who Have YOU Invited to Church Lately? Lesson 2 of 5

We are getting closer to our 5th anniversary at our church ministry position. After 20 years of being in ministry (16 years married) this is our first 5 years in the role of lead pastor. It’s been an amazing 5 years and I’d like to share some lessons I’ve learned so far. This would be lesson 2 of 5… You can read lesson 1 here

#1. Grow where you’re planted. Don’t wait to change towns, jobs, or neighborhoods.

#2. Network! Network! Network!
Advertise! Advertise! Advertise!
Evangelize! Evangelize! Evangelize!

If you find yourself in a small town pastoring (or pastor wifing) a small church you will need to spend at the very LEAST 80% of your time meeting new people, introducing them to the church, and figuring out your new town. This comes in all kinds of forms. But after 5 years, and I’m so glad we learned this early… you basically need to fall in love with your town. 

We dove right in. It wasn’t hard, we were new so everyone knew we had to be “those people who moved into that one house” or “You’re not from around here, where do you live?” After a week of being here my kids were so used to hearing people approach us to meet the “newcomers” that my older son asked us if we were famous. HA!

We signed our kids up for sports right away, we introduced ourselves wherever we went, we friended as many as we could on facebook and we jumped right in serving our community. This was easier for me than it was my husband. But he’s doing much better. Now he has a part (very part) time job where he can meet even more in our community. Not just to grow our church, although we’d LOVE for everyone we meet to come to our church… but because we love our town. We are aware that there are other great churches in town, but we care more that people feel loved and can trust us and our church.

Coming into a small community where people remember every bad thing that has ever happened, means they remember previous pastors to churches… even if they are previous, previous, previous pastors. This can work against you, so it’s important to build your own relationships and try to build trust. Our desire isn’t just to get people to attend Crossroads Church, but our #1 goal is to reach out and introduce as many as possible to Jesus Christ. Once that became our #1 goal, relationships took on a new shape.

Networking the church is important… if you need anything, you need to know the church exists, where it is, and what to expect from us.

Advertising is beneficial. For those who still haven’t chosen a church (or for those who need a change), seeing what the church offers is a huge benefit.

But evangelizing… that’s the key. There are hurting people, and there are many people who need a church community to support them, and when you are loving, friendly, and genuine, you show them the Christ in you. No pastor is perfect. But when you decide to live a life of evangelism, you change the way you think. Everyone you come in contact with is a chance to share Jesus. As Jesus lives in us, He can overflow on to others as well. When you make it a goal to grow the Kingdom of God and not just your church, you stop pastoring the church, and start pastoring (or pastor wifing) the town. The more you love the town, the easier that becomes. And oh do we love the people of our town!

Myth: Only Pastors are called to evangelize

Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Each and every believer is called to “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.” No believer is exempt from this. Sometimes you evangelize through the love you have for your co-workers, neighbors, family members. Sometimes you have to be bold and come out and tell them about the love of Jesus for them. How can people have faith in the Lord and ask him to save them, if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear, unless someone tells them? (Romans 10:14) It is not the sole responsibility of the pastor to grow the church.

In our experience, many that come to the church are actually invited by a friend who enjoys the church. I invite 3-5 people a week. Not that I’m trying to meet a quota, I just believe with everything within me that our church is amazing, and the importance of Church is huge! In 5 years, 3 people have come because of my invitation… that’s about 3 out of 1000 invitations… That’s .3% (do you see the decimal  point?) But if all the current church members invited their friends, we could double our influence in a fraction of the time (don’t make me do all the math… we’re on summer vacation over here!) People are more likely to come if you invite them to come sit by you. Sometimes getting an invite from the pastor or pastor’s wife is more intimidating, and comes across less authentic (although, I promise all my invites are authentic). You can make such an impact just by inviting, it’s a very small step in the evangelistic process.

Let’s work together. Let’s love them and show them the Jesus we serve! You don’t have to stand in the pulpit to do it, (or be married to the one that does). We can all evangelize (share the salvation given through Jesus Christ).

you're invited
Crossroads Church 721 Weston Ave in St.James, MN

If you are reading this, I’d like to invite you to join us for Church THIS Sunday. I think it’s time you either come to meet us, or accept my invite! I’ll save you a seat!

Services at Crossroads are every Sunday at 10am.

If you are not in our area, I can find you a church where you are, just email me at thepastorswifeslife@gmail.com

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Christian living, Ministry

Grow Where Your Planted: Lesson 1 of 5

It was a Wednesday. We packed our moving van. Thursday we said goodbye to friends and family, cried for the first 50 miles… then again 100 miles into the trip, again 200 miles in, and probably again at the 400 mile mark as we pulled within a town over from our new home. It was a thrill, but stressful. It was what we felt God calling us to, but it was so full of anxiety as we moved our family of 6 to our new church.

That was 5 years ago. I’ve been in church ministry with my husband for 16 years (20 years total), but this past 5 years has been the first 5 years of being in the Lead pastor position, and boy oh boy is it different. 5 years go be VERY fast and we can either look back with regret of wasted time, or marvel in the lessons God has taught us. I’m a “glass half full” kinda gal… so you’re going to get the lessons I’ve learned. Plus, I can not look back with an ounce of regret… This has been such an amazing 5 years! It’s only been 5 years… but already we’ve learned so much (and I pray we just keep on learning and growing).

I can’t possibly put this vast amount of new-found knowledge into one post… no one would want to read that many words. So come back each day as we lead up to our 5th anniversary…

Let’s start here…

Starting over in a new town where no one knows you can set you on a path to a new you.

We were given 4 weeks to inform our employment, pack our home, and move to our new town and church. In that month I began to pray, “What kind of pastor’s wife do you want me to be?” I began to evaluate who I was, what I had to offer, and who I WANTED to be. I’m not saying we should be fake. I’m saying that sometimes we get stuck in our ways and changing isn’t easy. But when you move, and you are completely unknown, it’s easier to change. I may have started out struggling to be loving, to be patient, to be compassionate,  to be bold, but the more I prayed about the traits I wanted to have, the easier they became, and the more they became a part of me. I am not the same person I was 5 years ago. And I like the new me.

Myth: You have to move in order to become the person God’s calling you to be. 

Nothing could be more WRONG! I allowed my concern of what people thought of me hold me back from being who I wanted to be… and more importantly, who GOD wanted me to be. I fell into bad habits, found friends who didn’t mind those bad habits, and never sought ways to change those habits. I underestimated my friends and family and figured they’d see me as fake if I made big changes in my personality.

Can I encourage you to begin seeking where you are, and begin making the changes necessary to be who God is calling you to be. Do you want to be nicer?… start acting that out until it’s really WHO you are. Do you want to be more compassionate? Look for ways to show compassion to people with whom you come in contact. Do you want to be more evangelistic? Start stepping out. Don’t delay, and don’t wait for God to call you to another town… that may not work. You may never move from where you are (whether that be physically or spiritually) if you’re unwilling to make those changes.

For me, I wanted to step out of my shell and be bolder, nicer, friendlier, more purposeful. I look back now, and wish I would have done all those things where God had me. I let idea rejections keep me from coming up with new ideas. I let myself get lost in “bigger cities” where my niceness and friendliness wouldn’t go as noticed (although it may have made a bigger personal impact one on one). I missed opportunities because I was too set in my ways.

Moving certainly allowed me to step out and be bold, more enthusiastic, more evangelistic. What could I lose? I’ve learned my lesson though… living this way is powerful, it’s life changing. I will not hold back again. If God wants me to change, nothing will hold me back from making that change for Him. I praise God for giving me this opportunity to be who He’s called me to be. I thank God for this new adventure, and for still working in me through it. I pray I’ll keep making changes as He calls me drawing me closer to Him.

Please don’t hesitate. Don’t wait for any reason, jump right in, start your new adventure, and draw close to God. He will guide you, change you, and create a more perfect you!

Check back tomorrow for lesson #2

If attending church is one of the changes you’d like to make, please find a church in your area. If you need help with finding one, please email me at thepastorswifeslife@gmail.com and I will get to work on finding one in your area!

If you live in my area, Crossroads Church is right for you! Please join us this Sunday at 10am for amazing teaching straight from the Bible… I’ll save you a seat!

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Christian living, Ministry

Slave to Busyness

In the first year of marriage, I ran circles around my husband. If he took the last drink out of his glass, I hopped up and put it away (whether he was hoping for more to drink or not). I mopped our hardwood floor EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. It was just the two of us. No shoes were worn in the house… but those floors NEEDED to be mopped. There were nights my husband would sit on the couch and say, “Honey! STOP! Come sit with me.” I had to stay busy all the time. Funny thing though, I got off work at 2p (went in at 6a) and cleaned the apartment and took a short nap because, well, I wanted to be completely available to my new husband once he got home from work. Yet, I spent most of the night running around doing… busy work.

We live in a society that glorifies being busy. We value one another based on our schedules and how much space we can fill in on that little hourly grid. We come home and sit just long enough to brag about our busy days on social media… or we do it from our phones on the go.

We see statuses like
– It may be 3am, but I’ve crossed off the 40th thing on my to-do list! #whoneedssleep
-Yep, that’s an empty 12-cup coffee carafe… and it’s only 7am #busyday
-Not sure how I’ll get this paper done, dinner made, house cleaned, dog walked, work completed! #notime
-Up at 6a, and still going strong at 1am #insertyourenergyboostingproducthere

It’s absurd! It isn’t how we were designed. The Bible says, “It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.” -Psalms 127:2

All this running here, there, and everywhere (even if you stay in your own house) is useless. Sure, we have to prepare meals, we have to work (whether it be outside the home, or in the home caring for children), we have to maintain our living spaces. There’s nothing wrong with signing up for a sport or book club, or church choir. It’s not useless to volunteer, pursue further education, or train for a better job. Of course if we try to do them all at once, we have to eventually give up rest. And rest is a gift from God.

Busyness can soon become a disease in your life. It can destroy your happiness, your health, and your walk with God. Busyness may get you through life, but it will not BRING you life. John Ortberg says in his book The Life You’ve Always Wanted ,”For many of us the great danger is not that we will renounce our faith. It is that we will become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it. We will just skim our lives instead of actually living them.”

I often wonder if the reason we fill every minute of our day with activity after activity, and the reason we boast about all we can fill in to our 24 hours is because society has filled us with this idea that the more we do, the more value we have. And yet, the more we do, the more pressures and temptations we put in our life. We may think that the packed full schedule means success and security and comfort and happiness. But it only attempts to fill a void that only God can fill. Our success isn’t measured in how well we can function on a tiny amount of sleep. Our security isn’t secured in a life with little down time. Our comfort doesn’t seem very comforting when we fill our lives with activities over people, and our happiness will be shallow when we fail to step back, slow down, and find solitude in God.

Hey, I’m not saying I don’t fall into this trap. I do, too often and I’m sure that’s why this is laid on my heart so heavy lately (well, for the past few years really). I see it, I recognize it, and I want out of it. We live in a society where pulling out of the busyness of life isn’t encouraged. We live where fast-food isn’t fast enough, we have to go through the drive-thru and eat in the car. And if that isn’t bad enough, we have replaced our meals with pills and patches, and tiny little power bars. We’ve gotten too busy for simple MEALS… we are in trouble. We put our kids in so many activities that we not only cut into their healthy sleep time, but we have completely done away with family time. Our kids are in school 7 hours a day, given 3 hours of homework, and still encouraged to try for varsity in every season of sports (sometimes those sports even overlap). And this has become so important that church hasn’t found itself on our schedules in months.
We must do something! But what? It’s the world we live in, right?

Author Dallas Willard speaks of a study done where mice were given amphetamines. Some mice were in solitude, some were in a group. It took very high dosages to kill the mice in solitude. However, the mice in the group started hopping around and hyping each other so much that a dosage twenty times smaller was lethal to those mice. They even introduced mice that had not been given ANY drugs to the group and within 10 minutes, the crowd had gotten them so hopped up and hyper that the drug-free mice died. This is the great effect of this “World” that has been created around us. We look at all of our friends get all hyped up on busyness that we feel we need to as well. We begin to put a value on ourselves based on how much we can cram into one day. But, let’s just STOP.

Let’s stop over scheduling our kids. Let’s stop boasting about everything we’ve done that day. Let’s stop letting our to-do list define how great we are. Let’s stop neglecting the rest God has given us.

And let’s start…
1. Planning ahead. When we procrastinate, we find that we cram way too much into a 24 hour period, and we miss out on the abundant life God wants for us. So plan ahead, and be sure to plan some down time into your life.

2. Praying and seeking God first. Give time to solitude with God. If that means getting up before kids do, then go to bed earlier so you can get up after a healthy night’s rest. This also may mean you have to cut something out. *You can also choose to go have time late at night… but only on nights where you can still get healthy amounts of sleep to prepare for your next day.

3. Cutting things out. Yes, getting a degree would help you get a better job. Getting a better job would help your finances. Better finances will…. Well… can I stop here and say, “Not always”. I don’t make 6 figures. And I’m doing great. Money isn’t everything. Simpler living just may be happier living. If you are pushing to get a degree just to get a better job to make more money… stop and ask yourself if that also means more hours away from family and church. I’ve seen this way too many times. Dad goes back to school while working full-time. He tells his family it’s just 2 years, then I’ll have so much more time. But then the new job requires more time away… and the cycle never stops. Maybe this isn’t the time for the new degree. Maybe wait until kids are grown and there is more time to pursue it. (Moms, this goes for you, too). Sports are fun. But don’t allow your kids to fill their time so full that they aren’t learning about quiet times. Stop the cycle now.

4. Take time to do nothing. Don’t plan something in every single slot on your calendar. Leave room to life. Do not be afraid of boredom. Let the day get away from you. You will start to feel free. Probably not right away, since busyness has such a great hold on us. You will have to make this a discipline, or a training in your life. But I guarantee it will bring freedom soon.

5. Change the stigma. Let’s start changing the scene. Stop glorifying busyness. Encourage others to come and enjoy life.

It’s time to change things, to choose another way of living, and to eliminate busyness from our lives.

One last thing… God wants more of you. He values you. He longs to be with you, to be in your thoughts, to be king over all your activities. If rest was good enough for Him… it’s good enough for us.

Ok…so one more thing…
Please watch this funny clip…
And remember, not everything that “saves time” makes life better. 😀

Ministry, parenting, Uncategorized

The Distracted Worshiper

It happened on Sunday. I could feel myself in deep deep worship. I knew from practice that we were going to sing one of my favorite songs and I had already made a commitment to press in. The first song was in full swing but as I tried to read along with the words on the screen (that I actually don’t NEED to read, I know the song) I notice that the words are lagging, or missing, and I gently leave my seat and head back to my lovely 11-year-old who is eagerly serving in church as the computer guy. He shrugs (whatever that means) and the words miraculously seem to be on time and correct.

Then the 2nd song comes on. I close my eyes, focus on God, and BAM… I can hear my 7 and 5 year olds singing with all their hearts. I keep my eyes close but I stop singing, I HAD to listen to their sweet sweet voices. Seriously, ya’all… there is nothing so near to a mama’s heart than when you hear your kids worshiping! NOTHING!

Then my song was on. I was determined to be zoned out focusing on nothing but my God. I was planning on entering into the holy of holies singing my heart out. “Singing as one.. Hallelujah… holy holy, God almighty, the GREAT I AM”… I was belting it! I didn’t care that my friend was standing next to me. I didn’t care if the front row could hear me although I was sitting in the back row. I just sang. At times I just laughed, I smiled so big there was no room for words. I let my emotions go and I WORSHIPED!

I’m a mom of 4. Worship hasn’t come easily to me since having my first child almost 12 years ago. I was raised in a church that valued worship. We served in churches that exalted worship to amazing levels. Then I had children. There’s something built into a mother that doesn’t allow her to close both eyes at once unless her children are sleeping safe in their beds. Since our kids have always been in the worship (songs) portion of the service with us, worship changed for me. *side note… I’m a HUGE advocate of families worshiping together in the same room at church. Kids can go for their own lesson, but if they can stay with their parents during worship… ohh, mama… amazing things can happen!*

Worship with a baby can be touching, but that baby may not feel as into the atmosphere as you are, and may just mess their pants right as you try to enter in. And sometimes the smell overrides your desire for uninterrupted worship. Sometimes a 2-year-old HAS to go potty just at the perfect song. Sometimes the 3 and 4-year-old who chose to dance (awww, how sweet) are now rolling down the aisle in an all out WWF Wrestling match. And sometimes, right when you think your kids are at the right age (almost 12, 10, 7, and 5) you can close your eyes and experience an amazing time of corporate worship.

Here’s the thing: during my amazing time of corporate worship, my mama eye would not stay closed, so I peeked to make sure my 5-year-old was still standing close by. He was, and his eyes were closed and he was worshiping… I think. His little eyes were squeezed shut, his head was swaying from side to side, his hands were waving… oh, it was so adorable… then… then… HE.LICKED.THE.PEW! Yes, HE.LICKED.THE.PEW! I don’t know about your church, but this is not a normal worship practice at our church.

But I had a choice. Would I let that take me completely out of my time of worship. It was quite the struggle, but I just closed my eyes, lifted my hands said, “Lord protect him from whatever disease could be resting there” and continued singing “Who is worthy, none beside Thee…God Almighty, the great I am”

You see the only perfect worship atmosphere is the one in which hearts are willing to shut out all around them and truly decide to enter in. I’m going through a learning process right now where my key word is “Choice”. I’m learning that if I want it (and God wants it) I must make choices to get me that thing that I want (IF God wants it). A lot depends on our choices, more than we want to admit.

If we want to draw near, we must say yes to Him, and that means that we say no to everything else. Even if that does mean we let our 5-year-old lick germ-infested pews in an effort to get more from God.

Happy Worshiping, Friends!

Ministry, Pastor's Sermon Notes, Uncategorized

The Death of a Dream

Let’s see a show of hands… How many of you scrolled through your Facebook news feed and found yourself angry, shocked, ashamed, frustrated, outraged or/and flabbergasted at what you saw? How many of you rolled your eyes at least 5 times? So of those who raised their hands (and those rebellious ones who agreed but didn’t physically comply) were you able to control your emotions and reply in a polite manner? Or did you lash out and begin on a tirade of name calling, belittling, and maybe even slip in some curse words? So, how’s that work for you?

Hey, I get it, I’ve been there. I’ve WANTED to say things I know God would not be proud of. I’ve hit the delete button many times, I may have even let a few posts get posted and I’m not proud of that. I’m actually very ashamed of myself after doing it, and most of the time I have to go back and delete my rude comments. Our society has become rage-filled and filter-free. We’re angry. We’re angry because our candidate didn’t win. We’re angry because we feel our rights are violated. We’re angry because our voices aren’t heard. We’re angry because our neighbor went gluten-free and didn’t accept our homemade bread! We’re angry because someone didn’t agree with our thoughts. And we lash out! We forget our manners and hide behind a computer screen and we call people small. We insult their intelligence. We spew hate and add insult to injury in this hate-filled world.

But what does God say? Do you care? I’m raising my hand over here! I care! I want to glorify God. I want to show Him to be the loving God that he is. I WANT to be an imitator of Him. Even when I mess up, I want to do better. Do you?

Matthew 5:21-22, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”

We don’t like the word ‘Judgment’ but there it is, right there in the Bible. And we’re liable. Pastor’s sermon (the notes are here) reminded us that all of our emotions need to be subjected to the authority of the Holy Spirit. We cannot let our emotions go unchecked and do whatever.  We can not see that political post (dietary post, silly meme… or whatever ruffles your feathers) and allow our fingers to spew every ungodly thought we have in our heads.  Of course you CAN… but should you? 1 Corinthians 6:12, “‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be dominated by anything.”

Unchecked emotions can damage others, and damage us. It can hurt our reputation, and for Christians (I’m even sad that we have to be reminded of this), it can hurt our witness.

I asked my kids the other day, “What is the number one thing we, as christians, should be doing?” Without skipping a beat, my 11, 10, 7, & 5-year-old answered, “Glorify God, and try to help others do the same” (It was a proud moment for this mama!) If they get it, why is it so hard for us adults? One of the most glorifying things we can do for God is to point others to Him.

So when you type things like that belittle, insult, and increase the hate, are you benefiting anyone? Are you making things better? Are you then able to point that person to Jesus? If you have to say no to those questions, can I ask that you utilize your delete button? Can I beg of you to back away from your screen and seek God instead? Can I pray with you that we begin to shed off the anger and start producing the righteousness that God desires (You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.  Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. James 1:19,20).

Your dream (whether it be a different president, different policy, different neighbor, or whatever) may be dead, but you aren’t! Live! And live in love!

**This is part of my takeaway from Pastor’s sermon yesterday. His notes are on his page, please head over and take a look. hearitfrompastordave.wordpress.com Follow him if you’d like each week’s sermon. But if you’re in the area, please join us next Sunday at 10 am! I’ll save you a seat! Crossroads Church, 721 Weston Ave in St. James, MN

Ministry, Pastor's Sermon Notes, Uncategorized

Completely Surrounded

So, Moms, have you ever had a kid who was just a tad bit too quiet. As much as you wanted to bask in the silence, you just KNEW it was not a good sign. So you slowly begin to search for your child… and as you turn the corner, you see it… Your child is covered in________. Whether it be the diaper cream, powder, planting soil, or, ehem, diaper mess. We’ve all been there. I always pray it’ll be a flowery smelling lotion… it was usually lipstick, or cologne I should have thrown away the minute my husband got it. But you look and think, “How am I going to clean this mess up!?”

That is the way many of us in ministry look at the world. We go into ministry with a desire to change the world, but we end up covered in the “mess” wondering how we’re ever going to get it all clean. We’re weighed down and tired, and we contemplate just staying within our homes, where it’s “clean”. However, Viewing the world from the perspective of God will draw out humility and compassion from us. And from God’s perspective, none of us are clean, but He knows how to get us there!

My husband started a sermon series in January of 2015 on the “Beginning”. He started in Genesis 1 and finished… well, he’s not quite finished. The church began to grow, and many of our members were new to Bible reading. So for them, the history was new and eye-opening. For those who have read their Bibles many times over, it showed how connected the Old Testament is to the New Testament. It’s January 2017 now, and he’s in Numbers… and each week it’s mind-blowing! Yesterday I decided he needed to dust off his own blog and start adding his sermon notes to it each Monday. So, to all my subscribers, or to those who are willing to read when I post on facebook, I’d like to take this time to send you over to my husband’s blog. Please subscribe (or follow… or check back every Monday) to his blog. It may just be his sermon notes (where I’ve added complete sentences), but it also may just change your perspective, and you’ll see yourself begin to LOVE the history of the Bible and it’s applications for us today. My husband is very anointed, and God is using him in a great way in our small town.
So head on over and dig right in, and find out how God can purify us from the sin that we’re bound to get all over us in this life.  You’ll want your Bibles (although I did include the Bible Gateway links)

https://hearitfrompastordave.wordpress.com/2017/01/16/completely-surrounded/

Ministry, Uncategorized

When the Sun Shines

cloudsFour years ago we packed up our home of 5.5 years and moved 7 hours west. We moved away from friends we loved and family we had drawn so close to. We weren’t running from anything, but it was time to go. Our situation wasn’t dire, but our hearts were ready for a change. We weren’t leaving a place we hated, but it wasn’t what we felt called to, so our hearts ached. The 5.5 years drew us closer to family, helped Pastor get his degree, allowed me to stay in one place as I added 3 children to our family, and taught a series of great lessons. But, in 2010, we knew God had another plan for our ministry. And if you have ever had to wait upon God’s timing for His plan to fold out, you understand this ache I speak of.

 

truckMarch 24th, 2012 (after 2 years of waiting) we pulled our large truck away from the only town our kids had ever known. I didn’t make it a block from my in-laws before I was bawling my eyes out. I knew we were doing the right thing, but it was very hard to take that leap of faith when things had been so easy for 5+ years.

As we drove along, I sang, I prayed, I laughed, I cried, I worried, I encouraged myself… but I never doubted. I knew this journey was one God wanted us on. About 3 hours into our should- have-been-7-but-was-really-10ish hour drive it began to rain. The budget truck could only go 45-50mph, I had a nursing baby in my van along with 3 other excited kiddos (one being an active 2 year old), and I began to grow tired. The rain was NOT my friend that day. My hands were cramping from gripping the steering wheel with the death grip of all death grips, my body sore from packing up the truck, and my mind going through all the plans and dreams I had for our future. By the time we were “almost” there, I was ready to pull over and have a melt down.

When it wasn’t storming, the drive just got boring! Pastor drove the moving truck and I drove our van with the kids. They watched movies, and I tried to occupy my time with music and my own thoughts. It reminded me of the boredom that can come in ministry when you’re in that waiting period. We knew we were actively seeking a new position, but it never kept us from serving with all our hearts at the ministry before us. However, when there is a longing in your heart for something just over the horizon, life can become boring in the wait. This isn’t always a good thing!  This boredom is something to take captive. God does not ask us to stop living as we wait. It’s a HARD thing to do, but needs to be done. Ministry DID continue on as we waited, but it was a constant battle to command our hearts to “do all things as unto the Lord” even in the waiting times.

The storms, as they got worse overhead had reminded me of where we had been. Ministry hadn’t always been nice to us. We’ve gone through betrayal from people we trusted to have our backs. We’d been treated poorly, been overlooked, undervalued, and been let down more times than we thought we could handle. The storms of ministry over the previous 12 years were bleak at times, but we never wanted to give up. We knew that God had called us, and we knew that the sun would someday shine (and really, it was sunny MOST of the time!). And just as the storm had gotten so bad that we contemplated pulling off the road and sitting for a bit, my spirit dropped. The fear of what could happen as we took on this new church in a town we do not know was getting the better of me. I was crying, frustrated at the weather, and at my own fears and I wanted to stop. But I wanted to  hurry up and get there. My excitement and fears were overtaking my thoughts. What if we failed the people of St. James? What if we really did not have what it takes to be leaders? What if they hated us? What if the church never grew and our kids were miserable? My questions were flooding in drowning out the voice of God I had been hearing for the past 9 hours! I felt completely overwhelmed, and then I looked up and the sky opened up. The clouds were dark all around, but the SON broke through. It wasn’t directly over the moving truck. It wasn’t just above the van. Instead it was a few miles up, at our exit into St. James.

In that moment, the fear slipped away. My heart calmed down and I reminded myself of who had called us. I remembered how God had worked out all the details for this position. I remembered all the lessons we’ve learned along the way. I remembered what we had already overcome with God’s leading, and I suddenly could see that the son would keep shining!

We pulled into our new home at about 7pm that night. We were met with the beautiful faces of our new church members. Life was good. Scary, but good! Unknown, but good!

Now, as we celebrate our 4 year anniversary at the church this weekend, we are living this ministry dream. Everything hasn’t been easy, but with God, it’s completely doable. Pastor is leading well. His preaching is top-notch week after week (sorry, I am supposed to be bias, but this is just a fact! haha) and our little church is growing!

I share for two reasons. 1. because I am overjoyed at how amazing God has been to us! I’m so happy that we applied to a small church in St.James, MN (I must confess… I did NOT want to move to Minnesota, but was committed to praying for the will of God. So I asked Pastor if he would not tell me where he was sending applications so that I could pray unhindered by my human biases. So I did not know what state St. James was in until we had decided to travel here for the interview.) I am forever thankful for the board and church members that took a chance on a young pastor who had no lead church experience. The faith it took for this church to take on a large family financially has proven to strengthen the church as a whole. We are so very blessed by the community and this church! 2. I share this for those friends who are still waiting for their sun to shine. Ministry isn’t the only place storms can brew. You may be living in yours right now. Keep your eyes open. God has a plan for your life. Don’t stop living in victory today because your tomorrow hasn’t come yet. God loves you TODAY. Don’t get bored and give up, don’t get discouraged and walk away. Let the clouds part and the SON shine. You, with God’s help, can do this!

 

If you are in the St. James, MN area and have not stopped by Crossroads Church in the past 4 years, give us a try! Our services are at 10a every Sunday Morning! Come celebrate with us this Sunday!
Follow us on Crossroads Church’s Facebook pagecrossroads 

Ministry, Uncategorized

Know your Pastor’s Wife

Can I just say I love being a Pastor’s Wife. When I was very young my dad would drop us off at a local church when he had us on his weekend (probably to get a tad more sleep). And although I loved to learn about Jesus, I always watched the pastor’s wife. I remember saying I wanted to be one when I grew up. And I remember the odd looks I got. Once I became one, I thought “WHAT WAS I THINKING!?” After being in the ministry with my husband a couple of years a friend of mine got married to a pastor as well. About a year into their marriage she said to me, “Why didn’t you tell me how hard this was!? I’m kind of mad that nobody warned me!”

16 years into this gig and I’m still loving it. However, that statement doesn’t mean it’s easy. It doesn’t mean that it’s glamorous, and it doesn’t mean that I love every aspect. It simply means I am where God wants me, and THAT makes me happy. Being a wife of anyone isn’t always easy, but when your husband’s job puts expectations on you, no matter how absurd those expectations are, and no matter how much we KNOW they are absurd, it adds a level of stress to an otherwise pretty calm wife.

I recently read this article on the 9 Secrets Your Pastor’s Wife Won’t Say Outloud (read it if you have time). And I posted it on a community page that I’m a part of that consists of other WONDERFUL Pastor’s Wives (hey, us gals gotta stick together!). I asked them “What would you add”. Listed below are some of their statements. (some paraphrased)

  • I am the loneliest I’ve ever been in my entire life. When church members need someone to talk to they come to the pastors or the pastor’s wife. They can also go to a friend and pour out their souls. The Pastor’s wife can’t always go to her pastor, (sometimes he’s the reason she needs someone to talk to! lol). And most of the time she doesn’t have a good friend she can be completely open with. (see the next point)
  • We want friends, too. Many people don’t want to be friends with pastor’s wife. So we watch you and your other church friends go to coffee, go out shopping, or have a playdate it only reminds us of how hard it is to make friends… see the first point
  • .We shop second-hand stores, and rummage sales praying for great deals on nice looking clothing because we’re expected to look nice, but  have the lowest income of anyone in the church.
  • When people leave the church without a “reason”, we take it personally. It hurts our feelings (although we’ll graciously wish you well). We pour our heart and soul into helping our husband grow the church, and although deep down we understand everyone has the right to pick what church is right for them, and we DO get that we can’t be “right” for everyone… but when people just up and leave, it hurts… deep down we’re hurting.
  • Sometimes the expectations are over the top, and although we know that, we deep down feel the need to meet those unrealistic expectations. When we can’t, we feel guilty. (Many times because others have talked down to us when we can’t meet their impossible expectations)
  • Our children are just that, children. When church members expect them to live up to unbelievable expectations, they can easily crumble under that pressure. This can cause them to hate church, and eventually leave the church altogether because of their negative experiences.
  • Our children put in MANY hours per year helping at the church. Many times they help set up, help tear down, sleep in pews, come to church when they are under the weather, and work events rather than participate. So when they get extra treats, leftover snacks, or “inside privileges” trust me, THEY DESERVE IT!
  • Our children are church attenders just like yours are, so they should get to enter drawings, compete to win, and win prizes just like all other kids.
  • Associate pastors are pastors, too. Many times they get treated as second class… and their wives are treated even worse. Please be kind, Associate (including children’s and youth pastors) Pastors work VERY hard!)

Maybe these things shock you. Maybe it’s because you didn’t know that some people actually treat people poorly. And sometimes it’s not a deliberate thing, it’s just something that gets overlooked. And possibly you are one of the precious gems in your church who befriend the pastor’s wife and provide a good solid support for her. If that’s you… PRAISE GOD for YOU! Keep it up, and encourage others to do the same.

I have been in a handful of churches in my 16 years as Pastor’s wife (7 of those months I was just the pastor’s fiance) and I’ve experienced both sides. I’ve been hurt, I’ve been overlooked, I’ve been the topic of gossip, and the object of slander… but I’ve been loved, been valued, been supported, validated, and uplifted. Many Pastor’s Wives can’t say that last part of the sentence above. They live life under pressure, condemnation, and eventual depression. If you love Jesus, will you decide today to pray for your Pastor’s wife? Then do something for her. Take her to lunch, coffee, or shopping. See if she’d like to take a walk. Ask her how you can help her. And give her a little grace. Afterall, she’s just human, just like you.

I want to dedicate this post to a lovely lady that passed away WAY before her time. I wish she could see this and know that her encouragement to pastors and pastor’s wives has NEVER gone unnoticed! Wilma Beppler from Trinity Tabernacle in Bridgeton, MO was one of the most talented “Encouragers” I have ever met. I used to pray that God would duplicate the woman and place one of her in every pastor’s life. She was one of a kind. May her legacy live on in every church, and in every pastor’s life (and his wife!). Love you, Wilma, and miss you!

Ministry

You Kiss Your Mother with that Mouth

I want to introduce you to my MAN! He’s writes a column in the paper on a rotation with some of the other daveypastors in town. I love when he does because I see people throughout town and I stand a tad bit taller when people approach me and tell me, “I sure did like your husband’s article in the paper!” So I asked him to send me a copy so I could publish it, too. I sure hope that’s legal… So, if you didn’t read it in the paper, you have another chance…
The original can be found in St. James Plaindealer… pick up your own copy before the new one comes out!

You Kiss your Mother with that Mouth?
                                                                            By Pastor Dave Ciske of Crossroads Church

When my family and I first moved to St. James, I knew very little, if anything about farming.  I think I’ve learned at least a little more in my 3+ years here.  I was “amazed” when talking to a farmer a short time ago at his description of how they figure out the correct time to harvest soybeans.  The farmer goes out to the field, picks a pod, checks if it pops open indicating the correct dryness, and then he pops a bean in his mouth to check the moisture level of that.  There is a small contraption he uses to test the overall moisture of the beans so the farmer can get the most “bang for his buck”, but I was a tad surprised, with technological advancements, that this is still the way the farmer works.  Before that conversation I thought they had robots going out there doing it…I kid.

One thing I didn’t need a farmer to tell me, though, was that when the farmer sows soybeans, and the conditions are correct for growth, that farmer is going to reap soybeans.  The farmer that plants a soybean, isn’t going to grow an avocado tree.  Agriculture in general is a prominent theme and metaphor used in the Bible.   Specifically, Galatians 6:7 states, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” (ESV)  Earlier in Galatians 5:22-23 we’re given the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, etc.).  To put it simply, if you’re interested in these fruits growing in you, you’re going to need to plant seeds of love, joy, peace, etc., and not seeds of hate, anger and malice.

I don’t know if you’ve heard or not (again, I kid), but there’s a school referendum we’re voting on in November.  The referendum itself has not done this, but the two sides of it have sown some seeds of discouragement in me, personally.  I have heard some pretty hate-filled, malicious talk from both sides of this and it’s appalling.  What’s even more concerning, is when you hear the words of Christ in Luke 6:45, “For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (NKJV)  In some of the hateful things I’ve heard or seen on social media, I can’t help but think, “There’s no way they feel this way because of a referendum…there are deeper issues there”, but I digress.  This isn’t a counseling session.

Don’t get me wrong…I have no problems with the passion from either side.  There should be passion.  We’re talking about two important subjects, our children and our money.  But we have to learn that we can disagree with someone and not hate them and speak maliciously against them.

Studies show that the most powerful earthly influence on a child is not the teacher, a peer, a pastor, etc.  It’s the parent(s).  “If (parents) do not invest enough of their time and commitment into pouring emotionally into their child, the child will struggle to learn how to regulate his emotions and interact with others appropriately.” (Bethel Moges & Kristi Weber) How you treat those you disagree with (whether that person is around or not) will have a more profound impact on your child than any referendum that’s ever passed or not passed, now and in the future of this school district.

If you don’t have a personal relationship with Christ, and are tearing people down as they stand on the opposite side of you in this referendum, I encourage you to find Christ by simply saying, “Lord, I need you”, then get in contact with one of the Christian pastors from one of the churches next to this article.  If you have a relationship with Christ, and are speaking maliciously of others, repent!  Turn from your ways and cry to God for forgiveness.  Then I encourage you to go to the person(s) you have come against and ask for forgiveness.  If you really want to make an impact, bring your kid with so they can see what humility and forgiveness is all about.

Thank you, Pastor, for reminding us to play nice! If you’d like to hear more from Pastor Dave, please visit us at Crossroads Church. We meet every Sunday at 9a for Sunday School, and 10a for service. We meet on Wednesdays at 6:30p (adults and children for all of these services) and if you have a teen (or pre-teen) 6th-12th grade Youth@Crossroads meets on Tuesdays at 6:30p.
Questions? Call the office at 507-375-5920

Ministry

The Unappreciated Pastor

Last Monday my husband was out-of-town. An amazing lady from my church brought dinner to my house so I didn’t have to cook when my husband was away. While she was visiting with me in my backyard my son came outside and said, “Mom, a lady from church dropped off dinner!” My kids and I had the most fabulous smorgasbord dinner! I teared up. My husband and I had just been talking about how when I am out-of-town everyone flocks to him to make sure he’s taken care of. I laugh and think, “He DID live before he met me!” But no one had ever thought of ME when HE was out-of-town. The gestures dug deep inside my heart!

Today I got a phone call from another lovely lady in our church. “Will you be around this afternoon, I’d like to bring your family dinner!” I paused, pushed my mouth closed and half cried/ half gleefully shouted, “YES!” Did she know that we had unexpectedly lost our water due to a water main break this morning? Did she know I worked that night and was JUST wondering how we’d manage dinner, clean up, and LIFE without water!?

Two Monday’s in a row!? What’s going on!?

Well, it might be that October is Pastor Appreciation Month (and, honestly, I’ve learned with my church, it might also just be that THEY ARE AWESOME!). Feeling blessed in small ways fuels a pastor! But what happens when the church forgets? What happens when you need a meal and no one thinks to bring one? What happens when you,  the pastor,  have dealt with a very unhappy church member most of the week? Or when the church finances are down for the 4th month in a row and you, as the pastor, have gone over the numbers 1800 times? Or when a church member moves away leaving a major gap in ministry roles and you, the pastor, are scrambling to fill the spot… week after week… after week. Or What happens when you’re JUST the associate (youth or children pastor, intern or staff pastor whatever your title may be) and you get overlooked yet again. And the church never sees, and never tangibly blesses, and they pass over the entire month with nothing… not even a small card of appreciation? What then?

We’ve been there. We’ve read about pastors being blessed with Disney trips, or new (to them) cars, with fellowship dinners, and homemade meals brought to their doorsteps all in the same month that we were told, “Since we don’t have a pastor, we’re not going to have to do Pastor Appreciation this year!” (While the youth pastor’s wife sat back exhausted trying to help her husband, who was exhausted, who was filling in between Senior pastors).  We’ve been on staff at churches where the senior pastor was showered with admiration (deservingly) while we sat to the side with no recognition at all. It hurts. It feels like a punch in the gut when that last Sunday of October comes to pass and the truth sets in that the church has overlooked the month altogether. I wish it hadn’t happened… but over the last 15 years of ministry together in 5 churches, it has happened once or twice. **Let me add this disclaimer here… it was in the past, it was what it was. We are FINE now, we are not mad, we are not grudge holders, we are happy, healthy, and the ministry and life went on. Please, know all is well!**

So, how do pastors, and their families, get past the lack of appreciation? It’s not like you pastors entered the ministry for the appreciation dinner one Sunday in October. Getting cards with words of affirmation wasn’t the driving force behind all those late nights cramming during your college years.  Those very appreciative gift cards to your favorite restaurant aren’t the sole reason you pastors sit at the hospital with a sick church member into the wee hours of the morning.  Your goal as a pastor isn’t to get a pat on the back for shepherding those not only in your church, but in your towns. It’s not the incentives that drive your work, so why does it hurt so bad when no one notices?

Can I encourage you that someone DOES notice! Can I encourage you and remind you that GOD notices! He knows all the things you do. He has seen your hard work and your patient endurance. (Rev 2:2). 

Can I encourage you as I refresh your memory that God sees what is done in secret and WILL reward you. (Matthew 6:18) (and dear pastor friend, it WILL be better than ANY restaurant gift card!!!)

Let me show you what appreciation is coming your way… Luke 6:23 says, “your reward is great in heaven”. Luke 14:14 says “For you will be repaid at the resurrection”.

You see, what you pastors (and your families) are doing here on earth has eternal rewards that can not be measured in human terms. The things unseen are your reward, like the numbers added to the book of life because of your obedience to the call. Although it seems that there are more complainers than rejoicers this side of heaven,  it should never negate the awe-inspiring, life- changing, soul-transforming miracles that happen throughout your ministry life.  Because you choose to seek His approval and not man’s, your reward may look different from those climbing a corporate ladder. Our reward is eternal. No fellowship dinner will beat the dinner table in heaven!

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
( 2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

You did not enter the ministry for the MAN, but for the man’s heart. You did not enter the ministry because of the outward approval of the church, but for the Savior the church is pointed towards. And the recognition isn’t always there while in the midst of the battle here on earth. But when we serve the One True God, he won’t forget. His inheritance has already been set aside as your reward. My fellow pastor’s wife… YOU ARE SERVING THE LORD CHRIST! What an honor!

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24)

Please know that your ministry is valued. Please know that your giving… and giving… and giving does serve a purpose. Believe me when I say that just because no one sees the hours spent in the trenches does not mean they’ve gone unrecorded.  Please believe me, young staff pastor, when I quote Luke 6:38  “…Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” I KNOW this, I live this! It WILL be measured back to you. Let God do His thing and sit back and count your blessings. They may not come in the form of dinners, cars, Disney trips… but they can warm the heart in more superior ways.

Pastors don’t be discouraged. Don’t be let down by the actions of mere humans. WE all make mistakes, and miss the mark from time to time. Know that God is watching. God is noticing, God is recognizing all your hard work. Interns, children’s pastors, youth associates, volunteer pastors… please feel the words I write to you. Your ministry was given to you because God felt you were the right one for the job. Keep trekking on! Keep giving; Keep pouring out, pressing down, shaking the lives of those around you! Keep running the race, because we all know  “that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) (emphasis mine)

Oh, and one last thing…

HAPPY PASTOR  APPRECIATION MONTH!

ATTENTION CHURCH MEMBERS!!! Please don’t let your pastor, or ANY staff pastor (or intern) feel this way… be the one to plan something at your church, for some ideas visit my Pintrest page just for Pastor’s Appreciation…
Pastor Appreciation Ideaspastor