When they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority.” – Acts 1:6-7
I’ve been a pastor in one church for almost 49 or 50 years (depending how you actually count them). My ministry began in 1971 and soon it will be 2021.
I never sought to begin Fellowship or to be a pastor. I started sharing what Jesus had done in my personal life and hippies began to collect around me. No other church wanted hippies, so the ministry called the One Way House began.
The “One Way” was one way to God through Jesus!
I did not sit down one day and think, “I want to start a large ministry and so what techniques should I follow to achieve my goals?” It began with, “Okay, God, what do you want me to do today?”
This is still my plan. I want to follow Jesus. I get queasy inside when someone gives me compliments.
It’s not me, my great ideas, or hard work – it is Jesus!
If I could give one “49/50 years” summation piece of advice it would be – follow Jesus! Walking the path with Jesus leading defines your success, whether to a pinnacle of political power or a small shack serving the poor in in Philippines.
The church I pastor has never been a large “conforming” church where everyone says, sees, believes, and worships the same way. I want others to follow the path that Jesus has for them.
I feel my ministry is fulfilled when someone comes to me with a calling – something that they want to do – that has no current context in our church at that moment.
Let me explain:
In 1972, no church in our area sang contemporary worship music when we started singing current styles of worship. No church, almost anywhere, encouraged small/connect groups when we started in 1974. Most Christians still do not understand one-on-one discipleship. Fellowship was not involved with world-wide missions until someone asked to go to Romania.
On and on it goes. Most of what we do at Fellowship today started with an individual following their path of Jesus.
I observe church leaders trying to form others into their vision. I’ve watched parents live through their children, placing expectations on their kids that were what the parents wanted rather than the path of Jesus.
I’ve always had a muddiness about my life and ministry. Many have asked, “Give us a clear vision so that we know specifically what our church should be.” Vision and clarity are good. I’ve encouraged the goal of “Know, Grow, Show, and Go” as the vision of Fellowship. I love the phrase we say that our church should impact our community, and through our community, the world.
Trying to understand can impede walking your path. Jesus avoided answering the question, “When are you going to establish your Kingdom?” It was the last question the apostles asked before Jesus ascended to heaven. Jesus didn’t answer the apostles because His answer revealed itself as they – and now we – walk along our paths.
As you walk your path, God will give specifics and even goals. If you do not have certainty, dedicate your life to following Jesus. Jesus knows how the Kingdom will manifest for you.
Walking with Jesus is more “following” than “planning”. After “48/49” years, I get excited when I see someone decide to walk with Jesus… whatever the cost.
The path is an adventure. You do not see the twists and turns of tomorrow; you see Jesus today, and that is enough.