A note from your pastor

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I just got this note from your pastor. You weren’t aware that we knew each other, were you?

He said he’s not comfortable sharing this with you. But I’m not scared, so here goes.

Dear church member,

I’ve been flipping through the rolodex of names in my mind, and yours keeps coming up. Could be that God’s placing you on my mind for a reason. Maybe it’s accidental. But I’m betting it has something to do with the all-knowing, all-powerful God of the universe.

See, our church is growing. Like crazy. You know that. You see the new faces every week just like I do. You hear the stories of brokenness, the depth of shame, and the need for grace. Since you’ve spent more than 1 week with us, you see needs all around you every week.

So I started praying for you. That God would prepare your heart for serving others. That you’d be willing to use your gifts, talents, passions, relationships, and energy to lead more and more people to Jesus.

I just recently asked you to ______ (lead a small group, join the student ministry team, go to camp, help us set up on Sundays, be a greeter, join our worship team, etc.), and you told me no. “I’m just too busy right now. Maybe next season I’ll jump in.”

Can I be honest with you? Yes, since this is my letter? Ok. Here goes.

You won’t jump in next season. You’ll be busier then than you are now. Life never slows down, it only ramps up. You won’t have more time next season…you’ll have less time. Life doesn’t carve itself out for what’s most important…it carves itself out of a well-worn rut of the most urgent. Life doesn’t slide towards what’s best for you…it slides towards what you want.

You’re not too busy. You’re too selfish.

News flash: We don’t create environments just for you to sit and soak.

You’ve been doing that so long you’re shriveling up. You’ve gotten spiritually fat here in our church. It’s time to get off the couch and start serving. Start giving. Start going. You’ve learned enough, grown enough, and been served enough for 10 lifetimes.

Since you’ve been invested in, start investing. Since you’ve grown, help others grow. Since you’ve seen God working in others, it’s time for Him to work in you and through you.

Lead that small group. Join the worship team. Get out of the country on mission. Give sacrificially of your time until it hurts. The Gospel is worth it, isn’t it? The people you sit beside on Sunday morning are worth it. Our community is worth it. Your neighbors are worth it. The next generation is worth it. The current generation is worth it.

Your spiritual growth is worth it. Because I guarantee you you’ll grow as much in this process as those you’re leading will.

And this is just as much a commission to me, your pastor, as it is to you:

Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Jesus (Matthew 28:19-20)

Don’t sacrifice your family. Don’t burn yourself out.

But get in the game and quit being selfish.

Church isn’t all about you.

Signed with love,

–Your pastor



Christ follower, husband, father, writer, small groups pastor at Saddleback Community Church. Communications director for the Small Group Network.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Will

    Can you send this out to some people in my church if I give addresses? LOL

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Yes! I’ll sign your name for you.

  • http://twitter.com/Nuvia7 Nuvia Alias

    Simply great ! Thank you from Europe.

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Awesome…thrilled to connect with ya, Nuvia!

  • http://twitter.com/stevehanchett Steve Hanchett

    Dear Pastor,

    I underdstand where you are coming from. I was you for 25 years, but now I’m the church member, the recipient of your letter. One thing I’ve learned is how easy it is to lose perspective on what life is like for many of those pew siters. I own my own business and usually work hard six days a week because if I don’t work I don’t get paid. My wife has a full time job also. She gets home every evening just in time to have dinner with me, do some housework and go to bed in order to rest up for the next day. She does get Saturday off…kind of..that is the day she buys groceries, does laundry, and cleans the house.

    We both have aging parents. Thankfully they are well now but at times they need our help and we gladly carve out time for them. Of course, we also try to make tine for our children and grandchildren too. Then there are the everyday things we have to make time for…paying bills, mowing the lawn, changing the oil in the car.

    I realize you take off on Friday, which is fine by me, but we don’t have that luxury. I know you can and do duck out of the office regularly for a round golf, but we can’t. So we rarely have time for any extras.

    We really only have one day a week that isn’t filled with responsibilities of life. We really believe worship, the ordinances and the Word are important. They are so important that we resist the urge to just sleep and veg out. We attend your church. We give. We pray. While it is not an official part of your program nor is it an official church job, we do talk to others about our Lord. We hope to make a difference in our own neighborhood. There is a new young couple down the street and we are looking for an open door to minister to them.

    Clearly you are frustrated and I wish that wasn’t the case. But calling me selfish because I’m not fitting into your program is unfair. Rather than write me a letter maybe you could sit down with me, find out what is going on in my life that takes all my time, pray with me and have some empathy.

    Maybe it really was the Lord who brought me to your mind. But maybe the Spirit of the Living God wasn’t helping you fill out your team roster and make your draft picks, maybe he was calling you to be a shepherd and care for the sheep.


    Church Member

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Thanks for the comment, Steve. It’s a little chippy…but so is my post. :)

      I get where you’re coming from. I really do. I haven’t been a church staffer that long, and I remember the days of volunteering.

      I can’t tell you how many times, even in the last week, that I’ve said (honestly, from my heart), “I understand your hesitations. And I’m going to completely respect that. There are seasons of life where you need to pull back from commitments (volunteering, giving, leading, etc.) in order to focus on ______. It would be unwise for you to jump into more leadership at our church right now.”

      Serving your local church should never come between you and your family. Never. If it does, you’ve got priorities out of whack.

      That said…there are a lot of times when I’ve shared this (above blog) with people (in a different manner than a “letter from your pastor,” of course…this is a face-to-face conversation) that I know, trust, and that know and trust me. When I understand their story a little better, I can press on them a bit more, and encourage them to take that step. For many people, they can have the margin in their life necessary to lead, but they’ve chosen to be selfish with their time in an unhealthy way. For them, it’s time to stop doing some things so they can start doing more important things.

      Caring for sheep means sometimes you have to lead them to water that they don’t even know they want yet.

  • http://www.jasonvana.com Jason Vana

    I want to print this out and hand it to a few people…lol

    Great letter, Ben!

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Ha! Thanks Jason!

  • Barbara_Vogelgesang

    I understand the church needs workers to run the programs. I have worked in ministry. The thing is the people who really really need to hear about Christ aren’t necessarily in the building. Don’t judge me if I’m not serving on all your committees, I may be going to Judea, Samaria or other places to disciple and preach the Gospel as I am called.

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Thanks for your angle, Barbara. No judgment here. I never want to simply plug people into programs for the sake of boosting numbers. Never.

      You’re right…often the people who need to hear about Jesus aren’t in the building. (which is part of the reason why we at our church are moving people towards off-campus small groups) Sounds like you’re serving your community well.

      Keep doing that!!