People of the Grand,
I always welcome questions because they reveal what people think about, how they think and what they wish I thought about more. For example, yesterday someone asked me, “What kind of church is this and what kind of a pastor are you?” I’ll divide that one question into two answers.
First, what kind of church is this? Because I am a preacher, I will answer that with a story. Years ago when they began raising cattle in the Australian Outback they faced a dilemma of how to keep their cattle from running off. If they tried to build fence along the massive ranches they would spend all their time building and maintaining the fence line. Instead, they drilled deep wells as established places where the cattle knew they could get clean, fresh drinking water and while they are free to roam all over the vast outback they never stray far from the water because they know it to be their life source. Because of this truth, they never built fences. We think the same way about our church. We understand that we are called to dig deep into the sufficiency of who God is, as revealed in the Bible, and let people taste and see that the Lord is good. We are a church that believes in the sufficiency of God and the centrality of the Gospel. We believe in singing old songs that say things like “The arm of flesh will fail you, ye dare not trust your own.” We also believe in singing new songs that remind us of our good, good Father as well. We believe Church is an organism that requires some organization but it is never just an organization. We are a multi-generational as well as a multi-ethnic church which means we have people of all ages and all nationalities because that is what the Kingdom of God is like. We also welcome the cynic, the skeptic, the curious, the Believer, the doubter, the religiously lost, the confused, the certain, the tired, the already as well as the not yet. That is the kind of church we are.
Second, I am not a certain kind of a pastor, I am just a pastor. I am not a cultural architect, directional leader, community advocate, life coach, political pundit or CEO. I am a pastor. I weep with those that weep and I rejoice with those that rejoice. I don’t read business books to find out what I should do next. I do pray, read the Bible, fast and listen to God and the other godly leaders around me. I work hard to help people understand the Bible and see themselves living the Life it describes. When they mess up and want to hide I go looking for them because having ninety-nine is fine but you always worry about the one who is missing when you are a pastor. Occasionally I say things that make people mad. While that is not my goal, it does come with the territory so I have to have thick skin. I also have a tender heart so that when little kids write me a note that says, “Pastor Neil, I’m glad you are my pastor” it makes me kind of weepy. Because there is a story behind every face, I hear lots of stories and one day I will die with their secrets. I care about my people and want what is best for them so I pray for them often. I lead, teach, cajole, admonish, love, encourage, confront when necessary, speak up, and keep silent. From the Bible, I understand that I am to fight like a soldier, work like a farmer and train like an athlete. I am a pastor.