As Easter approached this year, I must admit I had mixed feelings. I love Easter and being in church to celebrate and worship the risen Jesus! I also love studying the doctrine of the resurrection and what Jesus’ bodily rising from the dead means for our everyday lives and for our own resurrection.
What I did not love was the prospect that, for the first time in 30 years, I might not be preaching on Easter Sunday since I stepped into this new role serving Oklahoma Baptists. Fortunately, I was invited to preach at one of our churches that currently does not have a pastor. My family and I had a great day worshiping and fellowshipping with this church.
Even though I had the opportunity to preach, it was still a different Easter Sunday for me. One way in which it was different is that throughout the day I received messages from a number of pastors telling me how their Easter services went.
I rejoiced with some that had baptisms, salvations and record-breaking attendance. It fills me with excitement and gratefulness at how the Lord is moving in these churches! Others were disappointed that high expectations for this Easter after the pandemic were not met. I reminded these pastors that, even though they may not have seen much in terms of God visibly moving in their midst, He was no doubt working as the Word of God was being faithfully proclaimed and the risen Jesus worshiped.
Whether Easter services this year were “exciting” or not, it is good to remember that in any ministry context we need to be faithful to the work God has called us to do wherever He has called us to serve. Times of growth and excitement often ebb and flow in a cyclical way, with times of discouragement at many churches. Stay the course and keep your hand to the plow in any and every season within the church.
If things at your church are going great, keep focused on Christ, focused on His Word and the Gospel, and give the glory and credit to Him. Don’t just sit and bask in the good things that are happening, but keep preaching, keep building a culture of evangelism and discipleship, keep serving your people and the community with vision and passion. Don’t let off the gas!
Pastors and churches should never think they have “arrived,” as though the “success” of their ministry was something contingent on them or that they’ve done all they need to do in ministry. We need to reach and teach more and more people all the while tethered to the reality that results are the work of the Spirit, not us.
If things are slow and discouraging at your church, be mindful of the unseen ways God is working. Keep preaching, keep sharing, keep serving, depend on Him and be satisfied in Him for the results, and don’t let off the gas!
Be faithful in serving and living for the One and for things eternal that cannot be measured in what is seen. Be tethered to the reality that God has called you to serve His church in this time in a certain place. Be always mindful of the words of Gal. 6:9, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
If this is an encouraging season at your church, rejoice and be humbly grateful. If this is a discouraging season, be resolved and focused on God who has called you and provides for you to serve Him through every season.