Proverbs 14:12 has brought conviction upon my soul tonight, and I want to share with you my heart if you will allow me. My name is Chad Lovejoy and I am the Lead Pastor at Victory Baptist Church in Cross Lanes, WV. In many ways it appears that the wind of God’s mercy is at our back and we are heading into another wonderful season of blessings in which we are not worthy to receive. Our father has shed His abundant grace upon us over the past 15 months that I have been here and it is all to Him we owe. I recently preached a sermon on the basis that, it is often better for us to share our weaknesses with each other rather than sharing our strengths. I want it to be clear that no person has come up to me with any concern or complaint in regards to what I am being convicted of here tonight. This conviction is coming straight from the Lord Himself and He has led me to the aforementioned verse Proverbs 14:12 which reads, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”
In the convicting work of The Lord initially I find fear, disappointment, regret, ineptitude, and so on, but following the initial sting that pierced my heart, I find joy. For I know that in His correction, He shows me love. In His strong hand, He shows me that I am His child. In His rebuke I find humility. Gratefully, He has once again showed me that I can do nothing with out Him and His peace over comes me as I repent and beg for restoration that I do not deserve, but as His child I know that He will grant it to me. Thank You Jesus, I love you.
Psalms 31:19 Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!
Let the Truth Be Known…
Church, we need to be empowered by the Holy Spirit! We need to stop talking about it and be unleashed for God! There are glaring issues that I see as the pastor of our church that are keeping us from facilitating spiritual growth and change; therefore we are missing the mark in the vision laid out in Ephesians 4:11-16. If these issues are not addressed then I am at fault. It is up to me as a servant leader to facilitate spiritual growth and change by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Specifically, I find the decline in attendance on Wednesday and Sunday evening services to be disturbing. Initially, we saw a great increase in attendance for all services and it was very encouraging for me personally to see such dedication to The Word of God that there was not much difference between the number of people that attended Sunday mornings and Wed./Sun. night services. We most definitely were not like most churches in that it is very “typical” for Sunday morning services to be the most attended service for the week. In my optimism, I was blind to the suggestions of other preachers and pastors around the area that told me that it wouldn’t last. “This is only temporary” they would say, and “once the novelty of having a new pastor wears thin on the people, they too will begin to stay at home for the evening services.” I took offense and refuted such suggestions and boldly proclaimed that “we are not like other churches!” ‘We are not typical at Victory Baptist Church!” A few months later, now that the “Honeymoon” period is over, I find myself wondering, “what happened?”
Was everyone right? Are we not different? Have we become typical? Have the people already grown tired of me? Have the people already become bored or annoyed by how I teach and preach God’s Word?
Is this “Honeymoon” period phenom for real? I’ve been praying. I’ve been studying. I’ve been dedicated. I’ve been faithful. What happened?… “I” happened… “I” have failed… In the midst of being dedicated to The Word, studying The Scriptures and praying for wisdom, I have failed miserably to be an effective facilitator. I was so caught up in preparing the teaching and preaching for these evening services that I lost my regard for the practical needs of those that we coming so faithfully to participate in the services. As I faithfully proclaimed The Word every night, I foolishly lost sight of the fact that the house of God must be a place for everyone to be focused and alert in order to receive what was being said from the pulpit.
A Bad Host for the Lord of Hosts…
As the pastor of VBC I have failed to be a good host to our people. I have failed to provide adequate classrooms that facilitate spiritual growth for those that are 18 and under. Fact is, if I go to church and there is nothing for me, I am not going. That is why the 18 and under crowd has stopped coming to our church on Sunday/Wed. night. Looking back I find it arrogant of me to think that “my way” of teaching and preaching God’s Word was engaging to all ages. It is as if I believed that “my way” of breaking down Scripture is interesting to everyone, no matter their age or intellect. In my ignorance, it seems that I placed so much faith in “my delivery” as a messenger of God that I took on the attitude of “If they can’t understand my teaching of the Bible then they ‘must not be interested in learning.”‘ That is not good shepherding. In doing so, I have neglected their spiritual well-being and there is a possibility that some of these young people will give up on church or even worse, give up on God. Oh how I pray that God will not let that happen!
These Young People Have Parents…
It stands to reason that if there is nothing there for the young people, they will not want to come. If they do come, they are either pushed to the back and into the nursery with toddlers or they stay up front huffing and puffing mad, because their parents won’t let them play with their cell phones during service. What kind of shepherd am I to be so careless with God’s flock? Babies and toddlers belong in the nursery, everyone else belongs in an environment that they can grow in the Lord, period. This is my responsibility and I have erred tremendously up to this point in making the appropriate accommodations for each and every soul that comes through our doors. My indifference to do so causes the parent(s) who really do/does want to come and learn more about our Heavenly Father to regret even coming to church at all! They aren’t being edified because they are too busy trying to entertain their own children. They could have stayed home and done that, which essentially is exactly what these parents are doing. All of our actions have consequences and the truth is, I have made it awfully easy for many people to stay at home during the Wednesday and Sunday night services.
Oh Wretched Son of Adam…
I have failed. In my blindness I have become careless with the flock in which God Almighty has entrusted me. My carelessness is a sin before Him and I pray that He will forgive me and show me mercy for my errors. I also pray that He will be gracious enough to move upon the hearts of those that I have caused to stumble so that they may forgive me and give me another opportunity to pastor them and reward them for their faithful attendance with edification from above, at every single service.
Remember Lot’s Wife…
Luke 17:32 from the mouth of Jesus we simply read “Remember Lot’s wife.“
She was dragged out of God’s wrath and into safety by the Lord’s angels, yet she looked back to where her heart truly was and she paid for it with her life. I am very thankful that the Lord has revealed to me at an early stage in the ministry where I am lacking as a shepherd. He has chastized me for being a bad facilitator. I know that I will fail Him many more times in the years to come if He allows me to continue to breathe, but I will take heed to the words of Jesus and not look back to the place that He has dragged me out of. (I know I shouldn’t end this sentence with the prepositional noun “of”- don’t judge me haha!) I can not change what has happened up to this point in the ministry but I acknowledge my error before you and the Face of God. The leadership of the church will be having a meeting on Sunday morning and from this day forward, VBC will be committed to providing every one with an environment to learn more about Christ at each service, regardless of age or intellect. Moving forward at Godspeed I ask you to join us, for Jesus tells us, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62)
I Love You and God Bless,
Pastor Chad Lovejoy – Facebook.com/VBCWV