I remember sitting in the chapel of Edmonton Baptist Seminary (now Taylor Seminary) as a young student poured out his heart. He was sharing of his “failures” as an Intern Youth Pastor of one our sister NAB churches.
This young man summarized his service of 4 months as a complete failure as in his own words “I was unable to build a strong youth ministry in the church and I failed to change the lives of the students as I had determined to do from the beginning.”
As he shared his story while fighting back the tears, I was moved in my heart for this student. When he had finished his testimony the professor running the chapel service for that day stood up, walked to the front and asked the worship team to come back up for the last song. He gave not one word of encouragement to the student, did not offer a prayer for him and seemingly showed no concern for the young man that had just bared his soul.
This service was my first chapel that I had at attended since taking over as the ABA Youth Area Minister, so I felt an obligation to the student. I approached him after the service ended and told him that I was sorry to hear his story. I then asked him to accompany me to my office so we could talk. Once in the safety of my office I asked him a very strongly worded question: “Who told you that you could build a strong ministry and change the lives of students in 4 months?”
I honestly wanted to know if this well intended student had set the bar too high for himself or whether someone had misled him in his goal setting. The answer was that no one had helped him set his goals. Therefore, he did it himself and set very unrealistic goals.
I began to explain to him that building a relational youth ministry was a very slow and arduous process. I told him my personal story of how I poured into the lives of many students for years before seeing any seeming fruit from the effort.
It is my fear that with our leadership at LFC, and with those leading our Clusters especially, I have not helped with realistic goal setting.
I think it is important that I help us all understand that building a Cluster to have a true sense of Biblical community is a long-term task. This calling will require a lengthy commitment that will try your patience and heart’s calling at times.
You will need to learn to be persistent, and you will need to develop thick skin. You are being called to help people develop a sense of community and care where they may not see a need, or understand the potential of what that community may accomplish.
Despite the lack of understanding on the part of the people we serve, I want to encourage you that what we are seeking to accomplish is worth the effort and energy. As we see authentic community develop I assure you we will see Kingdom fruit that will surpass our expectations. It is to that end that I constantly pray for our Cluster Leaders.
So hold fast to the task set before us. Commit to the work and trust the Lord of the harvest for the fruit.
I will be writing more about this topic so please stay tuned.