I have been a college pastor now for a little over 1 year, and there is a lurking feeling that always seems close by. It is the feeling that maybe as a leader I am not calling the people I serve to do enough. Or maybe the feeling is that in becoming a college pastor, I sense I have joined a game. The competition is among churches to see who can be doing more, creating bigger vision, going higher, climbing over bigger obstacles, and changing the biggest part of the world. I am not saying I have actually been engaged in this competition; I’m simply saying I sense I am a part of it (if it exists at all).
I haven’t done this much, but if I meet with other pastors or college pastors, I feel like we are supposed to talk about the things we have done, are doing, and want to do. “We have grown this much, we now have this many small groups that are doing this much stuff in the city. Our goal is to see every soul on earth saved.”
Again, at the very least, this is just a personal problem. And the problem is, when I look at the vision of other churches, I don’t know that I have as big of a vision as them. I haven’t set as high of goals. Maybe in my ministry we don’t have as many small groups, we haven’t grown as fast or as much, and right now we would simply love to see a handful of people get saved in our city, let alone in Kiribati.
Here is the problem I see in this line of thinking: what I don’t feel the need to talk about is what, as a ministry, we talk about most often. I don’t feel the need to explain the heart of our preaching and teaching, or small group discussion, or what we tell our neighbors, the homeless, or the hurting in our city.
Our emphases in what we talk about when we talk about God (see what I did there?) is not the high life of church. It is basic. Important? Yes. But it is like the foundation that no one pays attention to once it is laid. The high life, the building, is that announcement you are making this Sunday about how you want to raise 2 million dollars to translate a Bible in the language of the Comoros people; or how you are going to end sex-trafficking entirely, in all the world (2 things I would love to be a part of if it goes down!).
But if that is the high life, I am not a part of it, unfortunately. My college ministry is on no track to translate the Bible for those who don’t have it; we don’t talk about how we are going to change the world, because honestly, I can’t even change my heart. Would we love to be a part of both of those things, of course! But we don’t have goals like entirely eradicating poverty from Waco. Does that make us small-minded? Because if that is “big,” consider us small.
But I don’t think all of that should be our center, or primary emphasis. My emphasis when I preach, or in small groups, or in discipleship groups, or in counseling, is what Jesus has done, not what we should be doing. It is about what Jesus accomplished, not what I hope we accomplish. By focusing emphatically and constantly on what Jesus has already done for us, I am trying to kill that nagging feeling produced by God’s Law that says we are not doing enough. I am trying to kill it by agreeing with it; “No, we have not done enough, and never will. But Jesus did do enough.”
Our vision, primarily, explicitly, implicitly, emphatically, and constantly needs to be what Jesus has already done, his enoughness, and the vision he already has and will carry out to make “all things new.” Maybe when this gospel of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection is our primary and permeating focus, we might just be a part of something eternally worthwhile, whether we classify it as big or small.