March 21, 2017

To the Unknown Pastor

by Jordan Standridge

It is said that there are creatures in the depths of the oceans that remain undiscovered to this day. Astronomers keep finding new stars and new planets each and every year that, for millennia, have been seen only by God.  Every undiscovered animal, plant, and planet brings glory to God by the mere fact that He sees them, and He gets glory from their beauty even if He is the only one who knows that they exist.

In much the same way, despite the fact that there is much to be discouraged about when we look around at the situation in churches today, I do believe that there is, also, much to be encouraged about. I believe that God has men whom He has specifically placed around the world that bring Him glory every single Sunday, and no one other than their congregations know anything about them.

Last week I went on vacation with my family. And since we were on vacation on a Sunday, I looked for a church for us to attend. It wasn’t the easiest choice to make as zero churches came up on the TMS and 9 Marks church finder websites, but eventually, I settled on a church based on a Google search. We showed up right as it was starting. The first song began. As I walked into the room, there were about 40-50 people present. My expectations were not very high based on previous vacation experiments we had tried.

bible-preachingBut the church blew me away. The people were friendly, the music was fantastic, the order of service was well organized, but most of all I was impressed with the pastor. He was so joyful. You could tell he was a gentle shepherd. He had been the pastor for only 16 months or so, and 16 months ago he began to preach through the book of Colossians. This Sunday it just so happened that I would get to witness his last sermon in the book. He had prepared very well. You could tell that the book had changed his life and deepened his love for Christ. He constantly talked about the major theme of Colossians as he reminded his people of various lessons they had learned over the 60 or so sermons, and–most of all–he was faithful to the text.  At one point, he even got emotional over the thought that they were going to be done with the book and that this was the final message.

As I looked around, the people were engaged, they were listening, and seemed thankful for the message. And yet there were many open seats. As I thought about the service throughout the week, I kept thinking about the fact that God must be pleased with this man. Of course, I must say that I do not know him, nor do I know about the history of the church and problems they may currently have. But, regardless, I was incredibly encouraged to see a pastor of a small church (a mega-church compared to ones in Italy where I grew up, but small for America) who had obviously prepared very well for his sermon. He took his sweet time going through the book of Colossians making sure that he got as much out of the book as he could. He was preaching application in his message, very animated, and he obviously wanted the sermon to change the life of his people, all while having an incredibly encouraging smile. He spent time praising his church and praising the music team.

Let’s just say I was impressed. I’ve often heard Paul Washer and Steve Lawson say things like, “the best pastors in the world pastor small churches and no one has ever heard of them,” and I’m not sure I ever agreed with them until now.

Not too long ago, I sat in a service at the Shepherds conference. About 5000 pastors had gathered together to learn more about how to preach Christ. And an overwhelming thought took over my mind. I really don’t matter as much as I think I do. I’m just one of thousands of people in ministry working hard, going through trials, preaching through the Bible. And yet at the same time, whether people know who I am and how hard I work, or what my attitude is as I labor for the Lord, it doesn’t really matter, because my job isn’t to please man but, rather, it is to please the God of the universe.

shepherd-carrying-sheep1We live in a day and age where we are told that church size matters. On my Facebook feed, more often than not, I have sponsored post telling me how I can reach more people in my community and how I can grow the size of my church. While we should always be evangelizing, and working on winning souls to Christ, we must remember that our attitude matters, as well. If we can be joyful in whatever ministry God has given us, really working hard on the depth of what we do, and leaving up to God the results, and leaving up to Him how vast our influence can be, I think that then and only then will God be pleased with us. We may figure out worldly ways to attract hundreds or even thousands of people to our church, but only when we are faithful to scripture and our attitude is right will God be pleased with us.

While we all want to complain about the state of the Church, and in many cases rightfully so, I think it’s helpful to remember, as God told Elijah so long ago, that there are many men around the country and around the world who faithfully shepherd their congregations, joyfully counsel them, diligently prepare and spend as many hours preparing for sermons that they will preach to a couple dozen people as others do to thousands, and please their Savior through their joyful attitude throughout. It took me a random Google search to be reminded of this, and I’m thankful for the experience last Sunday.

Thanks be to God for these faithful men who, despite cultural pressures, remain true to Scripture and faithful to Christ. If you attend a church like this, you are incredibly blessed, Thank God for His grace in your life, show thankfulness to your pastor, thank him for his great attitude and his joy in teaching the Word.  Chances are he isn’t doing it for the money or for the fame, but he is doing it for your eternal good and for his Savior.

Jordan Standridge

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Jordan is a pastoral associate at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, VA, where he leads the college ministry. He is the founder of The Foundry Bible Immersion.
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  • John Pouchot

    Jordan – thank you so much for this blog this morning. For 42 years my dad pastored smaller churches in Virginia. When he was in early 60’s he and mom moved to Maine to pastor even smaller churches and eventually planted Crossroads Community Baptist Church about 10 years ago and presently runs about 40 in worship – and even less in the winter. Even though my dad was a soul winner – numbers did not matter to him. What mattered was shepherding and faithfully preaching the Scriptures. He passed away last year from leukemia as an unsung hero – but my hero in the faith for teaching me how to preach, lead, and shepherd well regardless of how many are sitting in the pews each Sunday. Thank you for reminding me this morning of what is truly important – Pastor John Pouchot, Petsworth Church, Gloucester, VA

    • Jordan Standridge

      Thank you for your comment. Sounds like you had a great example in your life!

  • Judy Parker

    Thank you Jordan for this encouragement for all who minister for the Lord faithfully without fame or fortune. Here is a shout-out to my pastor – CA – thank you for your faithfulness to our Saviour and his word, thank you for your sacrificial and loving ministry and for the great and obvious joy you have in teaching His word – for our good and out of love for our Saviour. You are a great grace in our lives.

  • Frank Sanchez

    Thank you for writing this. It made this small church Pastor’s day! Blessings to you. Hope you enjoyed your vacation!

    • Jordan Standridge

      You’re welcome Frank. Thanks for your faithfulness!

  • grh

    “there are many men around the country and around the world who faithfully shepherd their congregations”

    I hope you’re right, because the chief issue with the current church-ianity crisis in America centers around the prevalence of hirelings occupying pulpits who have more in common with John 11:48 than they do with 1 Peter 5:1-3, and it seems to have infested most places to at least some degree. Sure wish the Lord would either bring these unknown faithful shepherds you speak of to light or place my wife and I right square in their path so we can be Biblically shepherded.

  • Ciscostudent561

    …a few faithful men…

    • Jordan Standridge

      I should have you come up with my titles.

      • Ciscostudent561

        There’s not enough notoriety in that :-p

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  • Blake Gillen

    Thanks Jordan. I was challenged by the apparent joy in this man as he preached. I want more of that in my preaching. Thanks

  • Karl Heitman

    Very well written and encouraging. Thanks, bro.

    • Jordan Standridge

      Thanks Karl. Glad it blessed you I had guys like you in mind.

  • Ian

    I also appreciate this. I’m from England, where a few years ago, Mark Driscoll notoriously criticised us for not having nationally-known Bible teachers. We don’t do big, but in small churches all over our country, gifted and dedicated men and women are faithfully preaching every week, and the gospel is going forth.

    • JMG

      Brain-dead fggot. You know nothing at all.

      Your left-wing churches are dying. Good riddance.

    • Jordan Standridge

      Hey Ian, sorry about JMG’s comment he is in no way affiliated with us that’s why I deleted it. I’m glad my post was encouraging to you, although I do wonder what you mean by women who faithfully preach every week…is that what you meant to say?

      • Ian

        Yes!

  • Troy McGahan

    My ministry has been Church planting and rebuilding dying Churches. The Lord moved us to a small Church in Va and at times it has been a struggle. Not only for me but, my family as well. Thanks for the article!!! It was a blessing!!!

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