By Michael Martin
The capacity to separate ourselves unto God and have an intimate, powerful, regulating, transforming relationship with Him, and not with those that he brings with Him is wrong.
If you love Christ, and He loves the Church, that means the Church is part of the package.
You may be saying, well, I love my church. But, are we loving THE Church?
It says that “they will know by the way we love one another,” and we don’t get to pick who the one another is. That’s part of our challenge!
You marry in to a family and you’re marrying him or her, but you get the rest of those jokers, too. You know you don’t like that third brother-in-law, but he’s part of the package. He’ll be there at Thanksgiving. He will be there at Christmas. He will be there at the family reunion. Unless you know people in New Jersey who will cause him to disappear, he’s going to keep on showing up!
We are stuck with that third brother-in-law. He isn’t going anywhere. He’s is part of the plan. God planned to use that joker of a third brother-in-law to demonstrate to the world our capacity to love like He loved.
We have a responsibility to be assertive and aggressive about loving the Church.
That they have personally connected with Him, puts them in the family. You cannot ignore them. And that takes all ages.
To the leaders over 50:
I want to bless you. I want to acknowledge your work. I want to acknowledge the craft that you have developed in the name of Christ. I want to acknowledge your sacrifice. I want the rest of them to know that that’s who we are. We’ve made sacrifices, we’ve done things for the name of Jesus.
I want to honor your family and bless you for your investment. I know some of you have been parents to people you didn’t have anything to do with them coming into the world. But just your mindset about ministry has allowed your heart to open up and be available.
I want to bless you for the tears you’ve wept in your office. I want to bless you for being willing to be misunderstood.
But, you’re not finished. You finally know stuff. We need to pass it on. We need to release and engage, but we don’t need to pass off the scene.
We need to engage. You’re not done. You have immense value in the Kingdom.
We honor you. We need you. We expect you to be around.
You know, some things in ministry now are – you need to get younger, we need to get blacker, we need to get this that and the other thing.
We need you. We don’t need for you to go anywhere. We just need for you to see us. That’s all. Ask us questions. Realize that we are partners, not projects.
You’re why we joined this. There wasn’t anyone here but you when we got here. These young dudes weren’t here. It was all old heads. We joined on the basis of your testimony.
Find us. Who is us? All the rest of us. Black, yellow, brown, whatever I missed or left out.
Find us. Ask questions. Give answers. Stand beside.
One other thing – I’m 61. I’m committed to finishing well. You must too.
To the leaders under 50:
Knowledge is not the same as wisdom. Some of those old dudes encapsulate wisdom and insight and understanding and discernment. They may not understand everything about you, but they understand enough about life to be beneficial to you.
Do not allow the coolness of your vision statement, do not allow the hippity-hoppityness of your mission statement, do not allow any of that stuff and don’t let your big brain fool you into thinking that tired white haired men and women are not God’s gift to you.
You need to make investments in relationships with people who have learned through good and bad how to have good relationships. They need to be in your life.
Ministry has become more complicated over the last quarter century. It’s not supposed to be complicated. It’s just supposed to be hard. That’s from the fall. It’s hard. But it’s become complicated.
My opinion is that complicated means there’s sin somewhere – either by omission or commission. And many times it is the omission sin – that is, not being in healthy relationships. It’s being by yourself – that’s sin. It’s using your brain and no others. Be relationship oriented.
Being autonomous doesn’t allow us to get anywhere near the vision and the mission that we have as a denomination.
Maybe our time has come to allow something special to go on. Maybe people should be around Christians and see stuff that they didn’t plan on seeing. Maybe it’s time for people to be around Christians and have their perceived notions get squashed.
We are letting people tell us who we are, we are letting people describe us. We need to think about doing stuff that’s special.
Michael S. Martin serves in the Christian community as a pastor, counselor, and mentor to pastors. He is known as a personal, marriage/family counselor and as a retreat speaker. He is the lead pastor at Stillmeadow EFC in Baltimore, MD.