It wasn’t a gradual change. It wasn’t a sudden change. It just was time to change. I had been a pastor for about five years to a small suburban church. Well, it was small when I began as a pastor. The church had about 200 people on the member roll but really only 125 people, give or take, came on a regular basis. It was small but it was friendly and intimate in a way. It had a core of people who planned some activities to do outside of church to create and nourish a bond within the community of members.
Stuff like this cannot be faked. It was certainly genuine and I felt fortunate that they had selected me to lead the church in its scripture teaching and learning. So I started. I didn’t know where or how to start. I had interned and did some guest preaching in some churches but this was my first time being responsible for a flock. I was nervous and went before the Lord quite often for direction.
In the beginning I developed my own sermons. I did the research, added anecdotes (as best I could since I was without much life experience), broke down the words in the original language and used all the expositional tools I had learned in seminary. I had experienced some success with the effectiveness of my sermons within the first year. The congregation nearly doubled in attendance. It was nice to see the pews filled with people who had come hear me preach.
But my sermon preparation became time consuming. Concerns of people in the congregation started to crowd into the time I needed to prep for the Sunday message. I started to pressed for time and it started to crown out my personal life and relationships as well. I had to do something different that would best utilize my time between the day to day obligations as a pastor and prepping for my sermon. Then I read a book. I like the topic of the book and the message was pretty simple to express. I preached a series of sermons based on the chapters of that book.
That was how it started seven years ago and now I am at the point of no return. But I must fill you in what happened in the meantime, between the then and now.