2 Important Questions

I’ll never forget the Sunday in December of 2001 that I candidated at my church.  I had preached the morning service and then enjoyed a wonderful fellowship meal with them.  After the fellowship meal came the official interview. This was where the congregation could ask me any question they desired, and then they would hold the vote to see if they would call me as their pastor.  Almost the entire church showed up – about 10 people – and I must admit I was a little nervous.  I’ll always remember the first two questions I was asked.  Question number one: “Do you hunt?”  My response: “Yes, I love to hunt.”  Question number two was very similar: “Do you fish?”  I replied: “Yes, I love to fish.”  The man who asked the questions then stated, “Good, we may proceed!”

I’ve often laughed over the fact that these were the first two questions that I was asked.  Not my position on any deep theological, political, or social issues, but whether I liked to hunt and fish.  The more I think about those two questions the more I realize how important they were.  The man who asked the questions was not so much concerned about whether or not I hunted or fished, but whether I was one of them.  Would I fit in?  Would I accept them for who and what they are?

One of the key issues in rural ministry is that you will never effectively reach people if you do not meet them where they are.  Does this mean that you have to hunt and fish to be effective in rural ministry?  Certainly not.  But you must realize that things like hunting and fishing, or NASCAR, or high school football games, or whatever it is that the people in your community do, is very important to them.  If you put down what they love, you’ve essentially closed the door for any possible ministry opportunities.

I’ve seen way too many pastors spend almost all their time at the church or in their office and then wonder why they’re not reaching their communities.  Yes, office time is important – we have to spend time studying and preparing ourselves and our message for Sunday.  But at the same time we cannot lose sight of the people that God has sent us to minister to.  We have to leave the confines of our office and engage our people where they are.  Doing this will show them that you love them and that you care about the things they are interested in.  This will speak louder than any sermon you will ever preach.

What things have you done to fit in to the community?  Leave a comment below.

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