I had one of the most discouraging conversations since becoming a pastor yesterday. It was, honestly, at the same time, one of the most encouraging conversations as well. Here’s why it was discouraging: I found out there are a few members who are (still) unhappy about the direction of our church. I am not sure how many, how unhappy, and what they perceive to be the direction of our church. And they are unwilling to talk with me face to face. All of that is discouraging.
Here is why it is encouraging: whatever they perceive, it is mainly because of the pulpit. I have one conscious direction: the glory of God through the proclamation of the gospel. What that looks like in day to day life and week to week sermons gets clearer and clearer over time. That probably ends up looking more “conservative” and “fundamental” than most people in Hawaii are used to. I, myself, cannot put into words– other than what I said three sentences earlier– what the direction of the church is. But it seems to be that the unhappy members and the happy members all get it. Through the preaching of the Word there is something happening at Kailua Baptist Church that is different from the norm. I have thought so many times that studying for the sermon as much as I do is not worth it. But clearly, God moves and speaks to His people through the preaching of the Word.
I am not the only preacher in Hawaii or in Kailua that is going in this “direction.” The other churches that God is moving in this way are represented by the Gospel Coalition Hawaii. But by God’s grace, the most influential thing in our church really is the pulpit. God’s Word really does not return void. Paul’s charge to “preach the Word” is there for a reason. My encouragement to pastors is to remain steadfast in study. If you do not think the pulpit is the most important part of your ministry, please repent in thought and/or action.
My encouragement to our happy members, is to pursue unhappy members with love and good works. Pray and act toward unity on the gospel. And thank you for being happy!