Oct 082016 0 Responses

My 5 Favorite Moments at Community Bible

Sunday night the church where I pastor will celebrate its 20th anniversary. I haven’t been there the whole time–I missed the first meeting. But I made the second worship service and have been involved ever since. While I wasn’t able to be active while in graduate school, the day after I graduated Jenny and I moved home and began working at the church.


Over the years there have been many great memories. I’m often struck at how fortunate we are to be a part of such a loving and kind group of people. Whenever others mock or trash a church, I listen with pity because I realize what they are describing in no way matches my experience with church. (See: Church Work–Devils, Doorbells, and Ding-Dongs)

In reflection of this anniversary, I have been considering my favorite moments during my 15 years as a pastor at the church and a few years of attending.

Here are the top five.

Top 5 Moments

5. February 2003. I’m not a big risk-taker, but in the winter of 2003 I took a risk. We wanted to host an appreciation night for our volunteers and I had the idea to do improv. I didn’t think our material would be overwhelmingly funny, but I thought us attempting to be funny would be funny for those who knew us well. I was scared to death the evening would totally fail. There is no worse feeling than the first few minutes of a 40-minute presentation when you realize your idea is a bust. Thankfully, this idea worked. Many people said it had been a long time since they laughed that hard. Nearly a decade and a half later, people still talk about the evening. But they don’t talk about it enough to convince me to try it again. (See: Warning–Objects in the Pulpit Appear Holier Than They Are)

4. Spring 1997. Five years before I joined the staff at Community Bible, I preached my first sermon with the congregation. On many occasions between high school and graduating seminary I preached, but my first sermon is one of my favorites. Not only did the sermon go well, but it was the first time where I realized the fun and excitement which goes with a growing church. I preached many more times at Community before being hired, but I think that first sermon was the most important one. (I still remember my opening joke. I took off my watch and said, “A preacher taking off his watch is like a Tennessee football player walking into a library. It looks important, but means nothing.”)

3. Christmas Eve 2014. My favorite service every year is Christmas Eve. Growing up, we never attended a Christmas Eve service because we had family obligations, but when we moved back, Christmas Eve became a tradition. It’s become my favorite. Each year as the service is over and as people leave the worship center to head to their cars, they do so with a deep sense of appreciation and love. This was the last year we did only one Christmas Eve service at the campus where I regularly preach. We knew we needed more than one service, but we didn’t want to change the tradition so we put chairs everywhere. There were chairs so close that some people actually propped their feet on the stage. The place was packed. I’ll never forget that Christmas Eve.

img_40832. July 2005. One would think that favorite memories are the happiest memories, but that’s not necessarily the case. On July 1, 2005 Ella was born. The church was almost as excited about Jenny’s pregnancy as we were. I’ll never forget telling the church Jenny was pregnant. They loved us well during that time. But when Ella was born and the diagnosis came, no one knew how to react. After taking a couple of weeks off, I returned to the pulpit. In that sermon, I reflected on the love they had shown, wrestled with what God might have planned for us, and communicated how we should all move forward. It was a meaningful time and it made clear to me that the pastorate is most meaningful during difficult times. (See: On Faking Communion and a Prescription to Drink)

1. Unspecified. One of the most unique aspects of the pastorate is that many of the success stories can never be told. Some of my favorite days aren’t even known by my wife. A couple comes into my office and their marriage is all but over. After a lot of work, they not only save the marriage but make it thrive. Their kids will never know how close their parents were to divorce. Every month, there are days in which the pastorate puts me in contact with people during their worst moments. On some of those occasions, I can clearly see why I do what I do. Those are great days even if the specifics will never be known.

The pastorate isn’t always fun. It can be exhausting at times. However, I am regularly amazed at the kindness and generosity of so many as we do life together.

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