Chad Harms, church, wilsonville, oregon

A Pastor’s Gratitude

This month is the two year anniversary of my start as the pastor of Creekside Bible Church. As I reflect on the last two years, I want to use this blog post to tell you about how much I appreciate the people in my church and their attitudes towards me through the years. In this regard there is so much to say, but let me begin by saying that I recently I had two interactions that reminded me that serving at Creekside is a HUMONGOUS1 blessing from God. These interactions reminded me that not every pastor has such an awesome first experience in pastoral ministry as I have. Thus, my goal for this post is twofold. First, I desire for people in my church to feel appreciated and inspired. They know I love them, but I want them to see some specific reasons I am grateful that God has allowed me to be their pastor. Second, I hope that people in other churches will come to a desire to support, care for, and help their pastors and leaders more fully.2  My church isn’t perfect, but its people have done a fantastic job of helping make my years in pastoral ministry a blessing. There are so many reasons for this, I will name but a few.

[bra_blockquote align=”]For us, Creekside is full of brothers, sisters, dads, moms, grandpas, and grandmas.[/bra_blockquote]Brynn (my wife) has literally grown up in our church. I, in a less literal sense, have also grown up in our church. It has been a great church to grow up in. (I have been the pastor for two years now, but have been part of the church for eight years – I can hardly believe it!) Both of us feel like we have a church full of people who view us as family. For us, Creekside is full of brothers, sisters, dads, moms, grandpas, and grandmas. We never think about leaving, but if God ever called us somewhere else it would be hard. Even as I typed that last sentence I pondered the idea – it wasn’t pleasant and left me feeling genuinely sad. The relationships we have at Creekside are full of love, laughter, grace, and kindness. I know that not every pastor gets to experience this; I am truly thankful for it.

With the strength of relationships I have in in my church, it would seem that leading the church might prove difficult. Telling a sibling what they ought to do is never easy. It wouldn’t surprise me if many in our church had trouble looking past 21 year old Chad and all the mistakes he has made through the years. With this could come a lack of respect. Instead, Creekside has embraced me as pastor and leader. I am more thankful for this then our people know.

In the eight years I have been at the church I have served in just about every capacity. Some of these roles I have been great at, some…not so much. Despite this, I can hardly remember dealing with complaints. For people reading this that don’t go to our church it might be hard to fathom, but I genuinely can only remember being complained to one or two times. Sure, people have offered me their opinions much more than this through the years, but it has almost always been done with loving and genuine hearts. Further, people have offered me advice, but again, it has almost always been done with a kind and sensitive attitude. I remember one man (I won’t use names) telling me that I was talking too fast after my first or second time preaching at Creekside. He said, “You are offering great information, but when you go so fast it is hard for us to take in.” It was one piece of advice sandwiched in between one outright compliment and one backdoor compliment – for a young preacher this was helpful, not hurtful. I’m sure that at several points many of you could have complained. I’ve had many stupid ideas, too often done things late, and blown it on more than one occasion. Yet, the people at Creekside have always been gentle and kind to me. I am slightly surprised and greatly pleased that this has continued in my role as pastor. People offer advice, tell me how they prefer things, but yet jump on board even when things are done differently. Amazing.

Along these same lines, I am so grateful that this church has allowed me to grow as the leader God has created me to be. I think that many organizations, and churches can be the worst, try to turn leaders into what they want them to be. Here I have been allowed to be what God has made me to be. I am not the “typical” pastor, whatever that means. I have certain strengths and certain weaknesses; Creekside has let me lead with my strengths and has supported me in my weaknesses. Nobody has tried to turn me into a “normal” pastor. Perhaps they don’t think this goal is accomplishable.  🙂

It isn’t just the kindness to Brynn and I that impresses and inspires me. I am amazed at how faithful and willing my church is to serve God. It is a major reason that being the pastor of this church is enjoyable.

Last year I gave a sermon about coming to church gatherings with the goal of building up the church and not just being “fed.” For many in our congregation this was new information. Since that sermon I have seen a tangible difference in the way people approach our Sunday gathering. More than before, they greet guests, offer assistance, and spend time talking to each other. On many Sundays, 20 minutes after our service ends, half of our congregation remains engaged in conversation with one another. It shows that they love and care about each other.

I am also amazed at how willing people are to give of themselves for the good of the church. There are people in our congregation that literally give up days of work at hourly paid jobs to serve it. This is inspiring. As someone who is paid to be at church functions, our people’s willingness to lose money for the sake of God’s Kingdom and our church pushes me to be a better servant.

Other people in our church volunteer tons of time and energy. Truthfully, people at Creekside are willing to give more than we even ask for. What makes it crazier is that they almost always do it with an attitude of joy. I hate yard work, but the property cleaning parties at Creekside are fun because of the smiles and enthusiasm of our people. It is awesome to see and be a part of.

I am genuinely amazed at how so many people in our church are willing to give of themselves for the good of the congregation and for God’s worship. People have busy lives that are complex and yet, they have made Creekside a priority.

[bra_blockquote align=’right’]love, encourage, be kind to, help, and help your pastor. Serve with him. Inspire him to serve more fully by your fantastic efforts. If you do, he will stay longer and God will be worshiped.[/bra_blockquote]So, people of Creekside, I want to say thank you for being the church you are. We must continue to strive towards being a church that follows the commands of God and demonstrates His heart to a dying world, but as we do, know that your pastor is glad to be on this journey with you. You who go to other churches: love, encourage, be kind to, help, and help your pastor. Serve with him. Inspire him to serve more fully by your fantastic efforts. If you do, he will stay longer and God will be worshiped.

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 1. I am now convinced the word “humongous” should always be written in all capital letters. HUMONGOUS!

2. Especially if their pastor or leaders are young. 

What do you think?