It was a great day as Epiphany Church of Gloucester City held its first public worship service on Sunday, March 18th – really special to see so many visitors, along with friends and family. Check out the article here.
As part of the service, I was commissioned as a minister in training along with another brother, Dylan Lebakken who oversees worship and kids ministry.
I wanted to share 6 things that I have learned in the last 6 months, since joining the Epiphany family:
1. The Value of the Team – church planting is really hard but even harder when you feel like you are alone. Being part of the team at Epiphany means I have people around me that support me, not just as a minister but as a Christian, husband, father. It is the reality that God cares more about me than my ministry. God wants me to be a healthy Christian, a healthy Husband and a healthy Father.
2. Different Approach to Ministry – if I was to sum up the last 6 months in terms of my mission, it is two words: faithful witness. What do I mean by that? Simply put, God has called me to be a faithful witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ where I am today. It means being a faithful witness where I live and work. And so much of what I considered ministry happened ‘somewhere else’ and so my life reflected working a lot of jobs, time with family and squeezing in ministry the best way I could. Was that healthy? Obviously not, so I am thankful for neighbors we can have over for dinner and go over their house, for co-workers I can spend time with to talk about spiritual things and also others at church that need the personal care and attention.
3. Discipleship, not just on Sundays – no doubt Sundays are a special day when people all over the worship gather to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ so it is definitely an important event but clearly, the totality of ministry can not happen over 1 or 2 hours a week. Now, how does it happen in a way that does not mean more commitments, more scheduled time, more burdens? I would answer that with the phrase “rhythms of life.” What do I mean by that? We all have them and they are simply are schedules and things that are most important to us: going to work, spending time with family, hobbies and fun activities. So rather than scheduling ministry as one more thing in your life, make it part of your life and invite people into it. This is what I have learned that ministry is about building relationships with people because you care about them and want to share your life with them. And so encouraging to be able to share the Gospel with someone who has never heard it before. What I am learning is that investing in other people is key and it’s also very rewarding and enjoyable.
4. Building Kingdom Relationships – quite obviously, God is at work right now in millions of people’s lives all over the world. As I reflect on this big reality, it means that God is at work in different churches all over the world, so it might be important to learn about what God is doing in the churches right in my community. I have met with pastors from churches of different denominations with a desire to get to know and partner together with them as we share in reaching people with the love of Jesus Christ. This does not mean that I have to compromise what I believe but it does mean that God can do bigger things if the church simply came together and worked together.
5. Emphasis on Personal Development – ministry presents many challenges, one of which is an ever growing decline in a specific resource that you never get back. That of course is time. Having 3 kids and working full time is not easy but when you are leading a ministry, it is even harder. Now, I realize that it is important to spend at least a couple hours each week reading and learning. You have heard the phrase “leaders are readers.” It is very true because I need to keep growing and learning every day, not only from life experiences but also from the experiences of others.
6. History Matters – it’s been there really helpful for me to be reminded that being “grafted into” God’s family is a very deep thing that includes people that have come way before me and will continue, Lord willing, for many years. I have the privilege of being part of God’s redemptive plan of history, even before the foundation of the world! And since Jesus walked the earth 2 thousand years ago, the church has come to know some giants of the faith like Augustine, Luther, Owen, Calvin, Spurgeon, Martin Lloyd Jones and many others. It is pretty important to study church history, not only to understand the challenges faced by the church but also to learn what shaped these men.