Recently I met a pastor who spoke to me about his congregation in terms which were not even friendly, much less warm.
In fact, he sounded rather antagonistic. This man referred to his church as "them" rather than "we".
The weekly offering was growing a little thin and the future of the church was uncertain. "They did it to themselves," he explained.
I am coming up on my one year anniversary at Sardinia Baptist Church and I couldn't be happier. I consider each person there not only as a brother or sister in Christ, but as a friend. I have two desires: to get to know each individual better and to be found worthy of being their pastor.
I thought about all this as I was reading the Apostle Paul's letter to the Thessalonians this morning.
Paul's genuinely warm feelings toward all of his church plants has often struck me. To the Thessalonians, for example, he wrote, "We wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan blocked our way. For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy." (1 Thess. 2:18-20)
Imagine a pastor counting the congregation not as adversaries, but as a hope, a joy, and a future crown to glory in when Jesus comes.
I am blessed!