It has been amazing to move back to Clarksville and to get settled in our new neighborhood. For the first time in my almost 9 years of being a minister on a church staff I am coming to understand what it means to be known by those around me. I actually know my neighbors, love my neighborhood, and I am discovering the joy of caring about the needs of people outside my church family. As a staff member I have always been consumed with taking care of church people, loving church people, hanging out with church people. The problem for me was that Jesus had a way of connecting with both religious and nonreligious folks in his day but he caught much grief because he was accused of hanging out with people who were not “God followers”. I am beginning to understand that Jesus did nothing more than just get to know the people around Him. He gave his time to people who were on the journey of life. I am amazed that there is an entire world out here outside our church community, outside our ministry bubble. These people outside of my church community are the exact people I am called to live with, to serve, to encourage, to hang out with to love as God loves. I know it sounds wierd but I am enjoying this little adventure. The incredible thing about loving people where they are at and coming to understand who they are is that every once in a while we get to shine God’s light of hope into their life. That is point at which the message of Jesus becomes real, becomes more than religion. Our end goal is not getting to know people wo they will come to our church or believe as we believe but rather to care for them as God cares for them and YES Go does care about those who are far from Him!
I moved into my neighborhood and people began to ask what i did and of course I told them about Grace Community and my role as a pastor on staff. I think they are just stoked that I can carry on a real conversation with them! It is not always great for a pastor to move in next door (you know it is true) As I told people about our church people began to say – “oh yea that is that church that Chad pastors, I don’t know his last name but he works at the YMCA” Chad Rowland is one of my best friends but and the wild thing is that he is one of our co pastors and has worked at the YMCA part time as Grace Community was launched. Chad has become known as the YMCA pastor! That is so funny, he is known most by people outside he church. He will kill me when he reads this but it is a great example of who we should be known by. It matters not how many church goers think I am great leader or speaker or GUY…what matters is that those on the outside know me as a guy who listens, takes time to know them, is genuine with my faith. It is a sweet thing when those who are distant from God are cool with being with us who call ourselves Christ followers. As they get to know us they might just see Jesus in our lives and rethink what being a Christian means.
This is a passage of Scripture that keeps coming back to me lately…check it out…
13 Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good?14 But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats.15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.16 But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.
1 Peter 3:13-16 (NLT)