The other night our church celebrated it’s 25th Anniversary; twenty-five years of service to our community and the world, 25 years of changing lives. We celebrated, honored and appreciated our founding pastor, Stan Buck and his family. It was an amazing, moving, incredible evening; one I may never forget. I’m sure there will be more posts to follow, but for now I am captivated by those 25 years; what it was, and what it means.
I was sitting in the second row and when I turned around to see all the people behind me, it was a sight to behold. Every chair filled, right to the back of the room, then people standing behind and around the chairs, then people standing in the lobby. So. many. people.
Can you imagine being at the first service? You’ve prayed, made over 19,000 phone calls to the people in the area, you’ve done a mailing, prayed, set up chairs, prepared your message, prayed some more, and then you watch the door and hope people come through it.
In a video message, Stan mentioned, at times, during those early years, wanting to make the phone call that would allow him to walk away from ministry. This surprised me, I only know him to be a very strong, organized, determined man. But I cannot imagine the many frustrations of beginning and leading a church, so many things likely not going the way you imagined.
Ministry = people, and the truth is, people = messy.
As I thought about then…and now, this thought has come to me over and over…our culture today is very instant. We aren’t used to waiting very long, if at all, for feedback, results, change and more. We lose our focus, and we want the next thing. When discouraged, it’s easy for us to move to the next thing – as there are many next things screaming for our attention and time. But when you’re in the business of people, well…people need time. We’re set in our ways, we don’t want to change, we’re confident in our beliefs, or non-beliefs, or simply comfortable in our questioning. We want to know what the church will do for us, we sometimes show up with our consumerism attitude. We church-hop if we don’t get, hear or experience what we like. But....we’re also giving and generous. We are hungry for a change in our lives, we want to know God, or know him more. We’re a mix of all of that…which I imagine can be exhausting at times for pastors.
I saw so many of our young leaders at this celebration and I wondered what they were thinking. Here’s what I was thinking, Look at all these people! Young leaders, know that 700 people did not walk through the doors that first service, or the 100th service, or the 500th service. Life change did not take place after each and every service. (Be encouraged young leaders.) But after 25 years of sacrifice, leading, hardship and heartache, after hundreds of good decisions and probably a few not so good decisions, of having babies, sending those babies to college and then walking those babies down the aisle, our founding, and senior pastor had the honor of sitting and watching people POUR through the doors one Sunday evening.
Perseverance, commitment, passion, faith, obedience and so much more, poured over 25 years, sprinkled upon thousands of people, passed on to countless more. Our founding and senior pastor is sick, which makes this more than just a celebratory piece – it’ a challenging piece to other leaders, and it’s a reflective piece. The time for him to add to his legacy is nearing an end but the impact of his legacy will endure because he invested, cared, nurtured, made wise decisions and hard decisions, and the truth is, he likely screwed some things up too – he isn’t perfect. But he is good, and he is faithful. He loves his wife, adores his girls, cares for his congregation – and dare I say, the world. Congratulations to you, Stan Buck, on 25 years of service to the church. You have been a good and faithful servant, and when you enter into the presence of the King, I believe you will hear, “Well done.”