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You are not just a teacher

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I think it is an unfortunate thing that you are called a teacher. Since you are called a teacher, you might have the idea that your job is to teach. That is one of your jobs, but it is only one.

Your job is to create community. It is to pastor a microcosm of the church. That is what a small group is--a church in miniature.

I read a great story recently in Pete Wilson's book Plan B: What do You do When God Doesn't Show Up the Way You Thought He Would.

Sooner or later, it happens to most of us. Tragedy. Heartache. We realize that life on planet earth is far more difficult than any of us imagined. I am not talking about speed bumps. I am talking about train wrecks. Sooner or later, it happens to all of us.

Philipp Yancey has a great line in the book, Disappointment With God. Yancey says, "The only thing worse than disappointment with God is disappointment without God."  I would paraphrase that to say, "The only thing worse than disappointment with God is disappointment without God and the people of God." Here is a great story of how the people of God came through in a difficult time. When the train wreck happens to you, you will be glad you are part of a group like this. Your job is to create this kind of community in your group.

Morgantown Community Church, although growing fast, was still a fairly small church the first few years I was pastor. The small size was a great fit for me because it allowed me to spend a lot of time with the people in our church. And some of my favorite people in that church were Dan and Kimberly Flowers. The church was only a year or so old at the time, and they had been there almost from the beginning. They were the perfect volunteers. They spent countless hours serving and were willing to do anything that was needed.

Then, all of a sudden, Dan and Kimberly just seemed to disappear. We didn’t see them for several weeks. I called one afternoon to check up on them, and they invited me out to their house. They said they wanted to explain to me why they had stopped attending MCC. And they did. That night, over dinner, they very nervously told me they felt they couldn’t come back to church because their unwed twenty-year-old daughter, Kelly, was pregnant.

That dinner was just the beginning of a sweet experience of grace for the Flowers family and our entire church. I told Dan and Kimberly that not only would they be welcomed back at MCC, but that nothing would make me happier than to see Kelly get involved as well.

They took me at my word. And I was so proud of our congregation over the next several months as they willingly and generously reached out to that family. Week by week as Kelly’s pregnancy progressed, I could see her life being transformed by the love of God’s people.

One of my proudest moments as a pastor was showing up one Saturday afternoon at the church office to get a little work done, only to walk in on a group of women holding a baby shower for Kelly. They were laughing and crying together, doing their absolute best to help. Most of the women in that room couldn’t have been more different from Kelly. And yet they were extending a love that was beyond themselves.

The highlight of the shower was a beautiful white dress with little pink flowers that one of the women had bought. Kelly was so excited. She immediately squealed, “This is the dress she’s going to wear home from the hospital.”

I remember getting into my car that afternoon thinking, This is what God’s church is all about!

I'd recommend the book. If you read it, you will find the story does not have a happy ending. Life is often that way. It doesn't always have a happy ending. In a world that does not always have happy endings, it is good that we do not have to grieve alone.

That is one way to look at your job: creating a community where we do not have go grieve alone.

 

 

 

 

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