Can't Quit, Won't Quit

As a church planter, I don’t get discouraged often. One day, though, I wanted to quit. I thought of my brother, who told me that he doesn’t have any job-related stress. I wanted to take a “normal” job and be done with the pressures and demands of ministry. And yes, I realized even then that the idea of a stress-free job is a mirage that doesn’t actually exist.

Still, I wanted to quit.

As I thought about this, I began to ask myself what would change. Yes, I would be freed from some of the pressures of vocational ministry. So many other things would stay the same.

  • I would not be my own. I would still be bought with a price, called to glorify God with my body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
  • I would still be called to invest everything I have — my time, money, energy, and abilities — for maximum return for the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 25:14-30).
  • I would still be called to live sacrificially as part of the church, loving and serving others joyfully (1 Peter 4:7-11).
  • I would still be called to live everyday life with gospel intentionality, entrusting the gospel to others who would likewise entrust the gospel to others (2 Timothy 2:2).

The list goes on. What would change? The option of living for myself and my own comfort is off the table, and that will never change. Whether I serve in vocational ministry or in any other line of work hardly matters. I belong to Him. The expression changes depending on my work. The calling does not.

I suppose there will be other days that I’m tempted to quit the particulars of my ministry situation. I’m glad those days are rare. Regardless, there is no quitting the calling that God has given to all believers, a calling that flows from the gospel and is big enough to encompass all of our lives from now to the grave. Can’t quit, won’t quit. There’s no turning back once the gospel grabs ahold of your soul.

Help Me Kickstart The Church Website Expert's Guide to Squarespace

As you probably know, I'm helping to start a church in downtown Toronto. To help pay the bills, I work on other projects as a tentmaker one day a week. One of those projects has just gone live on Kickstarter. It's called The Church Website Expert's Guide to Squarespace.

Here's the deal: I want to help churches create excellent, affordable websites using a great service called Squarespace. To do this, I'm publishing an ebook that will offer practical advice on how to build a great website. I've put together a website that explains all the details. I think this project will help churches, and it will also help support me in my work here.

If you're interested, would you consider backing this project? Let others know about it as well. Check out the video below, the Kickstarter page, or the www.churchwebsite.expert page.

Back to regular programming on Thursday. Thanks for your help with this!

Saturday Links

Links for your weekend reading:

Is Politeness Killing Your Prayer Life?

Go ahead and jump in the deep end with God. Polite prayer may be more comfortable, but authentic prayer transforms hearts.

The Strange Case of the Imploding Ministers

Ministers don’t explode. Ministers implode. That is, the pressure on the outside becomes greater than the pressure on the inside and we’re crushed like an empty soda can.

The First 11 Minutes at Your Church

To get really practical and helpful, Will encourages church leaders to think about the following “seven checkpoints” in expressing hospitality.

Why I Don’t Go By “Pastor Mark”

I am called to lead the church, especially through preaching and teaching. But I'm leading as a member.

How to Leave Your Church Without Hurting It

Those of us who have the privilege of serving on a church staff will eventually leave our ministry posts. I would like to share a few lessons I learned from this transition that may help make your last Sunday a happy ending rather than a hurtful one.

In Praise of Hobbies

I’m a big fan of Sam Javanrouh, a Toronto street photographer who posted a picture a day for ten years. I’m still sad that he only posts the occasional picture now.

When we moved to Liberty Village in December 2012, I thought it would be a good time to try to take some street photography myself. I’ve taken a street photography course with Javanrouh a couple of times, and have been wandering around the Liberty Village community with a camera. I still haven’t run out of things to photograph, and I've posted a picture a day at LibertyVillage365.com for 673 days and counting.

My original intention was to use photography as a way to make connections in the community. It’s a creative and technological community, and I thought a photoblog could allow me to build relationships. Along the way, I discovered that I enjoyed photography. Not only that, but posting a picture every day gets me walking in the community, and it slows me down to observe what’s around me.

In some ways, the photography hasn’t done what I’d hoped. It hasn’t led to connections in the same way that other initiatives have. I’ve participated in one art show, and I’m about to participate in another. I’ve been able to publish a photobook using Kickstarter, and I’m about to order a few more for a Christmas show in a couple of weeks. I’m still posting a photo every day. We’ve been able to use some of these photographs in our ministry. I've met at least one significant community leader through the photoblog. All of this is good, but I won’t be writing a book about how to grow your church using street photography anytime soon.

When are you free to be fully yourself without your ministry leadership role? In what ways are you developing your hobbies?
— Resilient Ministry: What Pastors Told Us About Surviving and Thriving

But I’d do it again in a minute, not as a means to an end, but as an end in itself. I’m learning the joy of avocation, and in taking the time to enjoy my community in ways that I might not in the busyness of life and ministry. Plus, it’s fun to know that my photos are hanging in some people’s homes now.

I’ve met a few other pastors and theologians who enjoy photography too. If you’ve ever thought about pursuing photography as a hobby, I’d encourage you to pursue it. Today, I’d like to sing the praises of hobbies when they’re rightly pursued.

Much Joy in the City

Want an interesting study? Take a look at how Luke describes the growth of the church in the book of Acts. It’s not the way that we usually describe the growth of the church.

I noticed a while ago that Luke sometimes used a phrase: “The word of God increased” (Acts 12:24). What a great way to put it. As David Peterson writes in his commentary, “The church which is the creature of the word grew.” As our churches grow, I hope it can be said that our growth is the growth of the word.

I noticed another phrase recently. When Philip first preached the gospel in Samaria, Luke describes the result: “So there was much joy in that city” (Acts 8:8). The spread of the gospel is the spread of joy. Spurgeon said, “No city flourishes so well as that which has a clear, powerful, gospel bell ringing in the midst of it…We long to see this joy in London.”

If the church ever grows significantly in my city, I would be a happy man if it could be said:

  • the word of God increased there
  • there was much joy in the city

That’s the type of church growth I long for.