Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Little Country Church

Any one remember the Jesus movement and it's music? If you do, you may think of Love Song.  They had a song that sums up where I want to be - Little Country Church.

No religion, not stuffy, talking about the revival and the need for love - common good - putting the past aside... I could stop here and just tell you, that's what I want.  I want to pastor that church.

As a church kid, I spent a long time agonize over the most critical question of my young life, what was God's will for my life?  If one didn't find God's will and say yes to it, your life would be unfulfilled and filled with regret.  As a teenager, I felt I was called to be a missionary.  I had never seen a woman pastor, seems that it was okay to go to deep dark Africa and shed light as a woman, but you couldn’t preach in your local pulpit.  Never did understand that, do you?  An early marriage to a man called to preach and I was on my way.  However, he turned out to be an abuser and when he beat and abandoned me with three children, I was sure that I would forever be the person known as someone who didn’t fulfill their calling.  I was divorced.  To complicate the matter, I remarried.

It took quite a few years of slithering into the church as first a single mother and then a remarried person, before I considered that Romans 11:29 God's gifts and God's call are under full warranty - never canceled, never rescinded, also included me.  While I am convinced, unfortunately a lot of my brothers and sisters in authority and in the pew, are not.

I was asked a similar question to the one your Kingdom Bloggers are answering today a couple of years ago.  I was sitting with the former worship leader of The Well, the small church I had lovingly pastored for a few years.  He said, Joyce, if you could do anything you wanted, if location, money, husband, family, history, etc., if none of it were a factor and it was only you answering, what would you want to do – how would you serve the Kingdom?

Of course, being human, there is a part of me that would like to fill large arenas and be known as Joyce Lighari, the Joyce who replaced Joyce Meyers – when people think of the preacher Joyce, they think of me, not her… Then I thought well, I can teach.  I have lots of education now.  But that wasn’t the question.  The question, like our question this week, was not what do you think people will “let” you do, or what would you settle for, it was what do you want to do for Jesus?

Over Uncle Hershel’s breakfast at Cracker Barrel, I answered him.  I said, I want to pastor a small church.  Yes, a small church!  Why? Because I want to know the sheep.  I want to journey with them through their joys and sorrows.  I wanted to marry them, welcome their babies into the church, baptize them, visit them in the hospital, and do a fitting celebration of their lives as they go home to Jesus.  I want to pastor

Last fall as beaming parents, my husband and I attended the White Coat Ceremony of our son.  As a first year medical student, he was donned with the garment of his calling.  The President of the Medical School made some brief remarks.  He told the student that their's was the second highest calling of humanity.  He said the first was to care for the souls of people as a Pastor.  My dream is a high calling and one that I’ve said yes to – now I sit and wait for God to fulfill His call on my life.  


Tracy said...

Can't help but think of the words from an old Carmen song:
"The desire is the confirmation that the destination is there, God wouldn't put it in your spirit if it wasn't going nowhere"
BTW - that Scott Wesley Brown song was a favorite of mine back in the day too. Being in a small town, and thus a small church, for the first time in my life these past 5 years has caused me to understand what you mean about loving that sense of community and knowing everybody.

Andrea York said...

I love your heart for pastoring and shepherding. I've seen too many 'pastors' who aren't really pastors and it hurts the church where they serve.

I also love your reminder of Romans 11:29, it also goes back to the scripture that says, nothing can thwart the plan of the Lord - not divorce, not remarriage, not anything.

Bless you!

David-FireAndGrace said...

Well, Joyce, your congregation is virtual, but we sure do love your caring and prayers!

So be it, Lord!

Joyce Lighari said...

Yes David, I've heard that before, my church is virtual, but what does that mean? :-) Can I put that my resume or CV?
Andrea - welcome again. I don't know about where you are but here in the buckle of the Bible belt there is a lot of empire building and not enough Pastoring.
And Tracy! thanks for that Carmen quote - it is a good one to remember. I personally have no desire to ever be in a big church again. I went for a while to one of the "best" empire churches in Nashville and hated it - no fellowship, no accountability - just show up for the show (oh sorry, maybe I shouldn't be so sarcastic but...)

Tony C said...

I think your desire is one of the most honorable that can be had. God calls some to make a different for Him on a grand scale, but most of us need to settle into making an eternal difference to maybe only a handful...maybe only our children and grandchildren.

God will use us as He sees fit if we are obedient to His will. I look forward to visiting that small church you pastor one day.