FIRST-PERSON: In the shadow of the steeples
EDITOR'S NOTE: Nathan Lorick is the new executive director of the Colorado Baptist General Convention. He previously served as director of evangelism for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and as senior pastor in two churches.
CENTENNIAL, Colo. (BP) -- I was a pastor. That is all I ever desired to be and ever thought I would be. However, God had different plans.
In 2012, I stepped out of the pastorate and into a denominational role. It was not because I didn't care for the church or like being a pastor. I love the bride of Christ and loved being a pastor. It was simply a clear calling that God placed on my life to take on the role of strengthening the church.
Over the last several years, my love for our denomination and its workers via state conventions, seminaries, local associations and other places of SBC services has grown deep. I can honestly say that I am grateful for the calling God has placed on my life.
However, over the years I have come to a clear realization about denominational service: We need people consistently praying for us.
When I served as a pastor I knew I was being prayed for. I felt the prayers of many saints of God as they lifted me up to our Lord. However, when I stepped out of the pastorate, it was as if the covering of prayer was lifted. It's not that people do not occasionally pray for those in denominational service, but that we often fade into the shadows of the steeples and therefore are perhaps not on the forefront of the minds of God's people as we once were.
I know as a state convention leader I covet your prayers and am sure many who are no longer serving on a church staff do as well. I would love to encourage you to pray as a church for those who serve to strengthen the churches and are not often as visible as church staff. Allow me to give you four quick and simple ways to pray for those who serve your church in denominational service:
Pray for the families of those who serve your denomination. Certainly, there are those whose children are grown and gone. However, there are many young families serving across the SBC who need your prayers. Many times, denominational service is very difficult on a family due to travel and other obstacles for families serving in this capacity. This can lead to isolation and become unhealthy. So pray for the families who serve your church. In particular, pray for the spouses and children who often lose the connections and identities they once had while serving in a local church.
We live in a fast-paced culture in which vision is desperately needed. Pray for clear vision in the hearts and minds of those who serve. The roles in which we serve could echo in the heart of Paul in 2 Corinthians 11:28: "And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches." We have a deep burden for your church to succeed in reaching your community with the gospel. Pray that we can stay excited and energized with clear vision of how to best assist you.
Organizations within the SBC must constantly seek to be innovative. The responsibility of serving churches in their journey of reaching their respective communities is great. The need for denominational workers and organizations to be innovative and creative in order to add value to the churches' strategies is a must. However, pray that God would put new and innovative thoughts, dreams and ideas in the minds and hearts of those who exist to assist you with tools and resources.
Pray for a cooperative spirit among churches and denominational organizations in partnering together for the sake of the Gospel. Pray that we would become burdened for our cities, states and nation and that our burdened hearts would drive us to seek to work together. We need each other and have the greatest opportunity to partner together for the sake of Christ through the SBC's mission and giving strategy. This is a unique moment in God's timeline of humanity. Pray that we could see a revival of cooperation and partnership to do more for the Kingdom than ever before. As a denominational servant, I deeply desire to partner with you in one sacred effort to make the glory of our God known and the Gospel of Jesus proclaimed.
I love our denomination! I am honored that God would allow me to join Him in what He is doing across the SBC. Those who serve your churches in and through your local association, state convention, seminaries or national entities want to help. We eagerly desire to see you fulfill the vision God has given you. We recognize that Jesus did not give the Great Commission to the SBC or our denominational organizations; He gave it to the local church. That is our job, to assist you in fulfilling the Great Commission in your context. However, since we now live outside of the shadow of the steeples, can we count on those inside to earnestly and consistently pray for us?