Staying Put In Ministry by Daniel Grothe

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I just turned 40 years old. I have been in the church my entire life. I don’t know who I would be apart from the church. My father was a pastor, and I am a pastor today. We steward the most important context on plant earth, God’s plan for re-familying the world. It’s the church. You know that, right? Is this how you see your calling? Do you know the gift you have in front of you? Do you know the great responsibility that you have been called to steward?

As I said, my father was a pastor. I told him, “You’re a guy I want to be like. You’ve been faithful. 33 years of laying your life down in one place. That is what the world needs.” He influenced me so much that I too am committed to staying put in ministry. There have been some “good” reasons to bail out of the church I’ve been called to, but I feel this truth deep in my spirit, that God has called many of us to stay put, to recognize the power of stability and place.

So here is my challenge. Here is the provocation that I want to put in front of you today. I’m provoking myself here too! I’m talking to me as much as I am talking to you. Will you sign back up for the ministry God has led you to? Many pastors want to love the church without dying for one particular place. They want to move around when the going gets tough. As I think of this, I’m reminded that Jesus became small for us – the Son of God became “Jesus of Nazareth.”

In my book, “The Power of Place,” I write that God was willing to take on the smallest of all prepositions, which is “of.” He didn’t sprinkle salvation from the balconies of heaven. He wasn’t throwing the fairy dust of general salvation. No, Jesus moved into Nazareth and lived in Galilee. He walked the dusty road of Palestine. He went to His local synagogue on Friday night and Saturday morning. Salvation came into the world through particularity, specificity, through an Individual who lived in the neighborhood and walked its streets. If Jesus could fall in love with the particularity of the place God had given Him, we can do the same.

Do you know the uniqueness of your place? The grass is not greener. Don’t spend your life looking over the fence. Fall in love with where God has placed you. If you’ll do that, you’ll look up after 33 years like my father, and you will say, “I wasn’t able to do everything, but I did incredibly important work for all of my life in one place.” I don’t know how you could be richer.

When I came to my church, New Life, we were riding high on the hog. Our pastor was the president of the National Association of Evangelicals, a 30-million member group in Washington, DC. We were doing more work in Washington, DC, than in Colorado Springs, CO. We flew out Mel Gibson to release “The Passion of the Christ” at our church, just to give you an idea of what kind of streams we were running in. Then overnight, our pastor was caught in a scandal and was fired.

We were heartbroken. The church was $26.5 million dollars in debt at the time, which was staggering, and the global recession was closing in on us. We had to fire 44 people overnight. We were in incredible turmoil. Then we got our new senior pastor from Gateway in Texas, Pastor Brady Boyd, a man of God. He came out here and took over this wounded church that was on the brink of falling apart.

On his 100th day, we had Dr. Jack Hayford in as a guest preacher. I’ll never forget it. It felt like trust was getting ready to be restored. The winds were shifting to our backs and carrying us forward. At the end of the service, I was standing at the end of the children’s hallway and I heard the worst sound you could ever imagine hearing. Bup bup bup bup…! A shooter had run onto our campus with an AR-15 and 1,000 rounds of ammo and was spraying bullets everywhere. He killed two sisters in our parking lot, 16 and 18 years old, and ran past my 9-month-pregnant sister into our building. As our security stopped the shooter, he fell down and took his own life at our children’s check-in counter.

My first 3 years here at New Life were an absolute storm. We didn’t think that it could get any worse and yet we just kept finding new lows in the valley of the shadow of death. That’s when my phone started ringing. Friends started calling, “Hey, come!” I had offers to go to other places, to go home, and these other churches would pay me better and take better care of us. “Bless your heart,” they’d say. But something in me knew I had to sign back up for ministry right where God had placed me. There are moments like this in every pastor’s life. They’re where you determine, “You know what? I was made for this. And this is where I earn the title. This is where I show that I was called, and this is my vocation even if it kills me. Even if this is a horrendous situation, Jesus said to follow Him and take up my cross and deny myself. This is what that looks like.”

That’s my story. I had plenty of “good” reasons to leave my place, but I chose to stay put and sign back up for where God had called me to minister. I’m happy to report that 15 years after the shooting, our church is thriving. God has been faithful. He has restored us.

Pastor, after all I’ve shared with you today, I pray that God strengthens you for your ministry. I pray that the joy of the Lord will overwhelm you. I pray that you will have the ability to block out all the noise of life. There is so much coming at us right now. The enemy’s attack is to try to get you to quit. I pray that the Lord would give you the grace to shut out the nonsense and distractions and instead to have focus, clarity. I pray He moves on you to sign back up for ministry right where you are. You have my prayers, my love, and my respect. Don’t look now, but the work that you are doing is changing the world and it’s populating heaven. One day you’ll see! Keep going. Your reward is before you.

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