From guest blogger Pastor Keith Albert, Pastor of Missions for Family Church, formerly Pastor of Jog Road Baptist Church for 26 years.
Throughout the revitalization process, I have made significant changes as a pastor. I was a solo pastor, and now I am one of many pastors across multiple campuses. In our partnership, I changed into a new ministry role that is a perfect fit for me. These changes have been good for me. My life is not defined by my work, position, or title. It doesn’t matter whether I am speaking at a church campus or if I am on a mountain in southern Mexico, working with an indigenous tribe. My life is defined by my relationship with Christ. My relationship with Christ and my family has far more value than any place of ministry in a local church or mission.
I am a Servant
Every Family Church campus has a Campus Pastor who shepherds and preaches. (No video sermons here!) Since many from the former Jog Road Baptist Church and I attend the same campus, I have worked hard to be fully supportive of our Campus Pastor. I want to make sure they no longer look to me as their Pastor. He is a great guy – also younger and better looking. It has been an excellent transition. On my third Sunday there, someone tapped me on the shoulder to ask if I would help take the offering as an usher. I took the basket and started on my row, and before I could quietly say to a former Jog Roader, “Is that all you’re putting in?” the basket fell and everything tumbled out – checks, envelopes, and the dreaded coins. As I got on my knees to pick up the coins, God impressed upon me, “Now that I’ve got your attention, remember you are nothing more than a servant!”
I am not Needed
A month after our partnership was established, I was in my kitchen on a Saturday night pacing from the refrigerator to the food pantry. I was looking at the TV from a distance and my wife said, “You don’t know what to do with yourself,” and she was right! For 30 years, on Saturday nights I would pray, sleep, watch the end of a game or movie, but I would be alone, and my message would be running through my head over and over and over. Her statement, as well other circumstances, led me to take a very healthy step. I said to myself, “I am not needed on any campus. Every campus runs just fine without me.” I know it sounds harsh, but it really was very crucial realization for me. I am not needed as a lead pastor, but I am needed in my specific field of international missions. I am ready to mobilize multiple campuses to meaningful and strategic short- and long-term mission work.
I am not Alone
I had a great volunteer and part-time team at my former church, but as the solo pastor I carried many of the burdens alone. I have shared life with several pastors in our area and have several mentors who have invested in me. However, on a day-to-day basis I was the lone pastor of a small church. I am now part of a dynamic team with exceptional leaders that is best described as holding on to a rocket as it launches into space. My office is near the worship staff and most days I hear music tracks, recordings, key changes, and audio and video editing. I love it! Many times they are practicing for service or performance, but sometimes they play for themselves as they worship God. I hear their worship and my heart soars in worship with them. I praise and thank God that others are joining together to advance His Kingdom in this place at this time.
As much as I have known that the decision to partner with Family Church was the right decision, my transition has gone through stages, kind of like “old things passing away… behold all things become new.” It has been a process that only time and a renewed vision can satisfy. God has helped me let go of past roles and responsibilities by providing a new and engaging vision for church planting through international missions. I am not alone, because we are on mission together.
Coming soon: Part 5, “Leading to Revitalization”