Prayer meeting. Sermon preparation. Session meeting. Teaching classes. Committee meeting. Counseling appointment. Presbytery meeting. Email correspondence. Academy meeting. Reading. Board meeting. Blog posting. Another meeting.
You may think that is a list of pastoral complaints. No, I rather enjoy my life as a pastor, for I am either preparing to be with God’s people or I am just being with them. What could be better than that? So is the list an attempt to prove how busy I am? No, for whenever someone comments on busyness I always say, “Everyone’s busy.” The men and women in my congregation have overflowing schedule cups as well.
Rather, the list is just to show that in taking care of the needs of the sheep that have been found, I find that I have lost a lot of time being with lost sheep.
When I was younger, it was more simple. I had more time. Whether it was door-to-door work, playing basketball down at the gym, teaching math at a local college, or a dozen other ways, I was regularly and even naturally around the lost. But not so much anymore. In taking inventory recently, I realized how insulated I have become through responsibilities. Preaching through the incredible gospel promises of Isaiah, coupled with the joy of being friends with some new Christians in our congregation, have motivated me to think again of how I could
find make more time to be with those outside of the church.
As I prayed, the Lord laid it on my heart to find a way to get to know the friends of people in the congregation. I also wanted it to be an honest approach – no trickery or peddling of the gospel. So I came up with what worked out for me to be a 1-3-5 plan. I would ask members of the church to invite a friend to 1 lunch provided by me so their pastor could get to know their friends. I would encourage the members to tell their friends that I am interested in hearing their answers to 3 questions about their spiritual life and understanding of what it means to follow Christ. Then I would ask for 5 minutes to respond to them.
Recently at the end of a message on another gospel-saturated passage from Isaiah, I urged the congregation to speak of the resurrected Christ to their friends and workmates. Then I offered to help by telling them I wanted to come alongside with this approach. I had simple invitation cards in my pocket (see below) and told them to come see me if they wanted one. Several came to me after the service for a card. I am excited that I have my first appointment tomorrow.
I share this for several reasons. Some have asked for further explanation, so here it is in writing. Secondly, all three involved will need prayer: the member as he or she exercises boldness; the friend who will need to overcome fear and sin to trust Christ for salvation and us as His messengers; me so that I can hear hearts and respond appropriately with proper application. So perhaps some reading this will pray for the Lord to use it. Also, I do not have any hidden motivations beyond a genuine concern that others would come to know the Lord who has saved me. So I want my intentions to be known. Fourthly, perhaps this will encourage another pastor or you might encourage your pastor by finding a way to introduce him to a friend. Finally, perhaps other pastors with full ecclesiastical cups might share below ideas of how it is that you get time with those who do not know Christ.
Oh, what is one of those Isaiah promises? How about this one as it speaks about the heavenly Jerusalem:
Before she was in labor she gave birth; before her pain came upon her she delivered a son. Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? –Isaiah 66:7-8a
Does it not make you want to shout out, “I have!”?