Pastor's Blog

When I first came to Mountain View Chapel, we held three weekly services:  Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday night prayer meeting.  Our Sunday morning was always full.  Sunday evening was usually half full.  And Wednesday night prayer meeting?  Well, for years it was usually me, two elders, and one deacon.  We were faithful to get on our knees and pray for the church for about an hour every Wednesday night.

I tried a generate interest in attending prayer meeting for a few years.  Nothing seemed to work.  Sunday morning and Sunday evening kept growing.  But Wednesday kept withering away.  I finally said, “Guys, the church doesn’t seem to want the Wednesday evening service.  Let’s shut it down and and find another way to accomplish the same goal.” 

So we shut down Wednesday night prayer meeting.
We announced that we were doing so the next Sunday morning
I was shocked by the response:  “What kind pastor are you???  Churches need to have prayer meetings!  This church has always had prayer meeting!  Churches must pray!  You can’t just shut Wednesday night down!  Don’t you believe in prayer, pastor?”

To such people I responded:  “Do you believe in prayer?”
“Of course,” they said vehemently.
“Then why don’t you come to prayer meeting?” I asked. 

Touche and checkmate.  Yes?


My reasoning was like water running off a duck’s back.  Churches are supposed to have Wednesday night prayer meetings and pastors are supposed to run them, they insisted.  Even if no one comes.  That’s just all there was to it!

This wasn’t the first example of feelings overrunning reason – but it was one of the most memorable for me.  And it wasn’t the last.  That issue – people being so grounded in feelings that they can’t understand reasoning – has been one of the greatest and most frustrating challenges I have faced in ministry. 

I entered ministry assuming that people were mostly reasonable, able to keep their emotions in check, and willing to change their minds when new and better information was presented.  I have long since jettisoned that assumption.  When people feel strongly about something, it’s difficult to reason them out of it.

If you are called to shepherd people like that (and I have concluded that more people are like that than not), what do you do?
Do you try to argue them into understanding and agreeing with your position?
Or do you just give them their way and go with what they feel?

It depends on the issue, doesn’t it?  Some things really matter – and other things don’t.  Life, I think, is about learning the distinction between those things.

But when you start off at 21 thinking all of your ideas matter, and that the goal of ministry is to reason everyone into your own position on things – well…the Lord will have a lot of distinctions to teach you, won’t He?

And I’m STILL learning…

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