On Friday night I was reminded of what ministry is all about.
This weekend I had the privilege of officiating the wedding of a young woman I met when she was in eighth grade, and the young man she loves (congrats Lillian and Tristan). Not long ago while cleaning up my contacts I found “Lillian’s the Best” – the contact she entered as a high school student. Lillian and I went through a lot of fun stuff and some difficult times. This weekend I was privileged to participate in the happiest day of her life.
At the wedding I chatted with two other couples whose weddings I had officiated in the past seven years or so. One couple shared about their young child and another on the way. All of this served as a reminder that ministry offers us the privilege to be invited into people’s lives in profound ways.
My denomination (United Methodist) is gearing up for our once-every-four-years (quadrennial) gathering called General Conference. There is a lot of talk about what needs to be done to grow the church. There is bickering over the structure of our national and international bodies, regional boards, and what to do with ineffective pastors. I wonder if this is not an exercise in missing the point.
Paul Thorn, a retired boxer – who once fought Roberto Duran – turned singer/songwriter, has a lesson for us church leaders. Alluding to the old finger play I learned in Sunday School, he sings:
It’s not a church if it’s just got a steeple
just look inside, it’s all about people.
(“All About People” on the CD A Long Way from Tupelo)
I find it easy to get caught up in the mentality of growing the institution. One of the supposed marks of success in ministry is the size of my youth group, or how many people attend the worship service where I lead music, or the number of pastors in the area who know who I am. This weekend I was reminded none of that matters much. What matters are the lives in which we get to enter and share the love, grace, and peace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
What a great reminder I received Friday night. Yes, “it’s all about people.”