A couple of years ago, I wrote a similar post. But I believe these words bear repeating. It’s important to express thankfulness more than once. Everyone needs to hear the words “I love you.” I tell my wife and my children all the time. The phrase is more than trite acknowledgment. It’s consistent assurance I will stick to my covenantal commitment in the relationship. Churches are no different. They need to hear “I love you” from their pastors regularly.
Here are ten things I love about my church, ten reasons I’m thankful to shepherd them.
- Encouragement. I receive a constant stream of genuine encouragement from my church. If you attend our church any amount of time, I’m sure you’ll receive it too. My church is not afraid of the hard discussions, so this encouragement is not superficial or gushy. It’s deeply rooted in our culture and straight from the Holy Spirit.
- Multiple generations. When you throw four or five generations together, tensions often surface. It’s understandable. The life issues and preferences of a 90-year-old are quite different than of a 10-year-old. A multi-generational church works when the older generations sacrifice for the younger generations, and the younger generations are willing to learn from the older generations. Our multi-generational body works well together. I believe it’s because of the flexibility of our older congregants. Their willingness to give up personal preferences is an example of sacrifice.
- Two languages. When our staff prays on Sunday morning, two languages are spoken—Spanish and English. Thankfully, God understands both. It’s beautiful. Both languages are spoken on our campus every time we gather.
- Growing diversity. The vast majority of the growth in our community comes from young Hispanics and other minorities. Our children’s ministry and student ministry are becoming multi-ethnic. I’m thankful my young children will grow up in an environment where they will get an understanding of panta ta ethne from their own church.
- Staff. I love my staff. We’re an odd bunch, and I’m the worst offender. But I enjoy serving with each of them every day.
- Laughter. Committee meetings at West Bradenton have way more laughs than grumblings. We love it that way.
- Confession of sins. I’ve been in several settings at my church where there was confession of sin. True repentance and accountability are—unfortunately—rare occurrences in the American church. Not here.
- High view of Scripture. People at West Bradenton love the inerrant, inspired, infallible, authoritative, sufficient Word of God. This reason alone is enough to have a deep love for my church.
- High view of church membership. We hold our members to high expectations. I’m thankful my church not only has a high view of Scripture but also a high view of church membership.
- Legacy of health. We’re not the biggest, baddest, latest, greatest, super church. We certainly have not arrived. However, we’ve been doing ministry at 1305 43rd Street West for decades. If Jesus doesn’t come back in the next one hundred years, we’ll still be here doing gospel work.
Pastors, don’t assume your church feels loved. You need to tell your church you love them. Do it this week. Write something in the newsletter. Make a phone call or two. Tell them from the pulpit.
I love you, West Bradenton. I’m honored to be your pastor.