I can’t begin to tell you how much those words stung. I went to the front of the church auditorium in Costa Mesa, CA for prayer. The speaker said, “If you are struggling in ministry and you want us to pray for you, please come to the front.” So I did. The pastor asked, “How can I pray for you.” I started to explain, “I’m running a business and working to plant a church, and I’m scared and struggling…” I couldn’t even finish my sentence before the guy leveled me with, “Well your problem is that you’re not all in! You have a lack of faith, so I’m going to pray that God would give you faith!”
I have no idea what he prayed. I just felt like a total loser. I went for encouragement and walked away in total rejection, and those words rang in my heart for years. I felt like a second-class pastor. I had all the best intention to serve the kingdom but apparently would never hit the mark.
Wow! Have things changed!
Fast forward to 2015. A friend invited me to an event with Liberty Church Network in Baltimore, Maryland. Before the event, the guy who was in charge walked up to me and introduced himself. His name is Jimmy Carroll, the president of LCN. He said, “So, tell me your story.” Interesting start. When I told him that I was a businessman who started a church, he interrupted me…”Oh great,” I thought, “here we go again.” I will never forget his next words. “Greg, what you are doing is the model for the future of ministry!” Wow! I’d never been a model before! It’s kinda cool.
This morning I read an article in the Washington Post about a married couple who are both Lutheran ministers. Between husband and wife, they pastor five churches…all five are struggling. The article goes on to talk about the financial challenges of local churches across the country. Let me share two thoughts:
Pastors and those who aspire to pastoral ministry, consider building a career while pastoring a church. I just wrote about this a couple weeks ago. Take a look at Get A Career.
Business and career people, consider planting a church or building a ministry around your gifts while working in your business or career. Over the next ten years, churches in the US are going to see a dramatic drop in financial giving. If those of us who have means beyond the local church checkbook don’t step up, church planting and pastoral ministry will suffer greatly.
You may say, “But Greg, I want to be a career pastor.” My response?? “You’re not all in!! Ha!