Pastor’s Blog August 2019

This is the second part of my reflections on 30 years in ministry, which I mark this summer. I want to reflect on 3 lessons that I’ve been learning during the last 30 years. I deliberately say, “learning” because I definitely haven’t fully learned them yet. Every time I pray I am challenged again about just how far I still have to go as a disciple and as a pastor. But I am still learning so that is a good thing.

Firstly I’m learning that character matters more than charisma. During my 30 years in ministry I’ve been saddened to see a number of people I’ve admired, learned from and sometimes known, fall from grace in some way. Often these men (and they are all men!) were extravagantly gifted, often used in significant ways by God, yet at some point their character had not kept up with their gifting. The first requirement for Christian Leadership is character. God wants women and men in leadership who desire to live holy lives, who want above else to become like Christ. Each of us have God given gifts but they do not come separate from who we are.

I’m also learning that people matter more than plans or projects. Over the last 30 years there have been many ideas to renew the life of the church. Power evangelism, Seeker-sensitive, Purpose Driven, Cell Church, Missional Church and many others. All of them contain important insights but none of them have comprehensively addressed the challenges that the contemporary church faces. Plans are good but they are only as good as the people.

I’ve been helped by a number of these approaches, particularly Cell Church, but the danger is that you end up trying to fit people into your plan rather than build your plan around your people. People really matter to God. You really matter to God. People are the building blocks of the church but rather like herding cats, building with people can be an arduous task.

Finally I’m learning that the church is more important to God than my ministry. At the end of the day, however long I spend in a church, however fruitful, or not, that time may appear, when I am gone the church will continue. God’s purpose is not to give me a reputation but to glorify his own name through his church. I love the comment I heard Brian Houston, founder of Hillsongs, make, “I want my ceiling to be the floor on which the next generation stand.” His ambition is for the next generation to go further and deeper than he has. I would like to have such a generous heart. After 30 years in full time paid ministry, I am even more convinced that the church is the hope of the world.

Phil Dixon