The church I grew up in is turning 100 years old. I have been seeing letters and Facebook posts, pictures, and videos celebrating this milestone, and it’s been nice because I liked my church when I was growing up. It was a good place.
I have been thinking about the role that church played in my life, calling and development. I think I have come away with some things that they did well, and these are things that we can all do which is why I’m sharing them with you.
My church tapped me on the shoulder. Leaders, encouragers, teachers, and pastors kept telling me that they saw something in me and that God had a calling He wanted me to step in to. They nudged me closer and closer to My Heavenly Father so that I could hear His call and follow Him into all He had for me. They didn’t want me to fill a slot on a “jobs that need done” list. They wanted me to be who God had created and called me to be, and they kept encouraging me towards that.
My church let me lead. They gave me serving opportunities and responsibility. They helped me discover my gifts and gave me a chance to develop them. They didn’t let my age get in the way, and they didn’t let my mistakes disqualify me forever. They gave me meaningful things to do and cheered me on while I did them.
My church gave me mentors. Wise caring mentors met with me weekly to help me grow, counsel me, gently correct me, and love me. I owe a great debt to two men who met with me weekly as I was wrestling with God’s call on my life.
My church put up with me. They were patient, kind, and loving. When I questioned or doubted, when I was impatient or unkind, when I thought I knew everything, and when I proved I knew very little, they loved me, and I knew it.
My church helped me grow. There were a couple of years when I was the only kid my age in the church, and yet faithful people still taught me in Sunday school. They challenged me to serve instead of just being a consumer of programs. They encouraged me to listen to God instead of doing what I wanted, and all of it has stuck with me.
I think any church can learn from the church I grew up in. We can all do the things that they did for me. Let me be clearer. You and me, we can and should be doing this stuff. We should be tapping folks on the shoulder and encouraging them to step into all God has for them. You and me, not just the board or pastor. All of us. All of us should be encouraging, mentoring, and involving ourselves in leadership development and disciple making for the sake of the Kingdom.
Thank you Lakeview Church for your investment in me and many others. Happy 100th Birthday. Keep up the good work.
Director of Leadership Development and Church Health
Free Methodist Church in Canada