The Blog of Gordon Pruitt the Pastor of St. Matthew's United Methodist Church in Richmond Virginia

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Richard Foster Rocks

Richard Foster who perhaps has written one of the best books ever, Celebration of Discipline was interviewed in the latest issue of Christianity Today. One thing that really stuck out to me was his response to the question, "how did spiritual formation effect your early ministry?"

Early on we were moving into a building program. And we did the various studies and so on and so forth, so I really could justify it. But I was also learning about prayer at that time. I remember Dallas asking, "Have we really prayed about it?" I realized we really hadn't.

I remember calling a meeting, a worship gathering on a Sunday night, to pray over this building project. We had all the approvals, and we were about ready to launch the fund drive. In a Quaker context, there's an open meeting for worship. So singing would happen, silence would happen, Scripture would be read, different things like that.

During the meeting, nobody ever said we ought to do it or not do it—that was not the spirit at all. The service lasted a couple of hours. I went into that meeting feeling that we probably should do the building, and I came out of it sure we shouldn't. During worship, my heart was revealed to me—that a big building and a big church would have been for me signs that I was a successful pastor. If anybody had actually said that to me beforehand, I would have denied it. But that night, learning to die to that was important. I'm not against buildings, but for me, it was crucial to give that up.

I think at times I am like Foster, I get too caught up in wanting to be a successful pastor instead of a follower of Jesus. This is a good reminder of what my focus should be.


Justin said...

when i first started at wesley all i thought about was numbers because we only had 8 students. when we started to have a lot, i started to count them every week. it made me feel good. however, i got caught up in the numbers game. it is still hard for me to let go of the numbers. i appreciate this post because it speaks to that problem that i have.

Gordon said...

i am there with you. Last year i kept a week to week attendance spreadsheet verses where we were last year at the same point. This year we are still tracking attendance but i vowed not to look at it until charge conference time. So far so good!
How did you golf game go?