What it Means to be a Pastor

                Being a pastor in Montana means many different things to me. Since arriving in 1995, I have served churches in Red Lodge, Columbus and Havre. Being a pastor in Montana means unloading trucks outside at work at 4:30 in the morning in  -40°F weather so that the church can still afford to have a pastor.  It means reaching out to people who have never heard basic Bible stories such as Noah and the Ark, David and Goliath or the real Christmas story.

Pastoring in Montana means enduring weeks of loneliness, isolated by geography and finances from family, friends and even other pastors. It means driving hours to conferences for the fellowship with friends and the opportunity to sharpen ones skills. It means penetrating reclusive lives and investing time into communities. It means sharing your home with people from all walks of life and all kinds of backgrounds. It means being vulnerable and authentic and living a transformed life in front of a watching world.

Pastoring in Montana means that you start laying the foundation for future works to take place.  Very quickly you learn that there is no prestige, no glory, no “bigger” church to aspire to. What there is, is plenty of is hard work, years of discipleship, mentoring, teaching and engaging. There is the joy of seeing a second generation come to know and serve the Lord. There is the joy of seeing families and marriages being put back together. There is the satisfaction of establishing stability and credibility in a community that is constantly watching to see if your Christianity is real. There is the awesome exhilaration that comes from seeing new believers mature and go out in service for the kingdom, taking the gospel to yet another place that needs to hear it.

Being a pastor in Montana is a tale of two extremes. It is a tale of hardships and frustration and of rapture and joy. It will cause you to grow closer to God than you thought possible because there is no one else around for you to turn to. It will drive you to your knees over and over seeking strength, guidance and wisdom. It will also lead you to give God all the credit because only He could possibly penetrate the darkness and hardened hearts of those who do not know Him.

Jeff Iorg, President of Golden Gate Seminary, sums up what I think being a pastor in Montana is all about when he says in his book, The Painful Side of Leadership, “Most leaders easily forget their primary reason for being placed in their leadership role. The primary reason isn’t for you to do things for God. It’s so God can use your leadership setting as a laboratory for shaping the image of Jesus in you.[1]

I pray that the image that is being shaped in me, as I pastor in Montana, is that of Jesus Christ.


[1] Iorg, Jeff. The Painful Side of Leadership. P12. B&H Publishing Group 2009

Confession/Testimony – 2 sides of the same coin

Have you ever stopped and thought about the relationship between confession and testimony? In testimonies, people often talk about what God has done for them. This is good and appropriate, but it is not the only form of testimony. Another form of testimony, and one not shared a lot, is what we have done for God’s Kingdom. Part of being accountable to our fellow Christians is to regularly talk about what we have done for the cause of Christ. It is so easy to sit and talk about all the things God has done for us, and  not do anything for Him in return.

Confession is our talking (admitting) what we have done wrong. It also is part of our accountability. So we have this coin. On one side is confession – an admittance of what we are doing that is wrong, and repenting of it. On the other side is testimony – an admittance of what we are doing that is right. For a church to grow in maturity, both of these must be regularly practiced by the group.

If we have nothing to share with our brothers and sisters about what we are doing for God, we may have more to confess than we realize. We need to practice testimonies of what we are doing as well as acknowledgment of what God is doing.

I realize that some will think it might come off as bragging, It could, depending on the way a person phrases it, or their attitude. But just because the practice can be abused doesn’t mean we should abandon it. Let God deal with the braggart, but let us not shrink back from boasting in the Lord as to what we do for Him. It just might inspire others to get involved with us and it will keep us accountable so we are not found to be pew-warmers instead of disciples.