Note from the Publisher: Pastor Jerry Cook is pastor of the Freedom’s Way Baptist Church in Santa Clarita, CA. His strong dispensational and Biblical ministry is has been a blessing to Southern California for 20 years.
As our church approaches 20 years of ministry in the Santa Clarita Valley I am reminded of the Apostle Paul’s words where he stated:
“And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry…” I Timothy 1:12
I too must echo the sentiment of the Apostle Paul that God would count me faithful putting me into the ministry. Some would ask me if I have learned anything along this 20 year journey? The answer is emphatically YES! Here are some things I have learned along the way:
- It’s ok to admit when you are wrong. When I started Freedom’s Way Baptist Church I was a Five Point, fatalistic, all things determined beforehand, Calvinist. Three years into the church plant it became scripturally clear that I was in error. It’s ok to admit when you are wrong.
- The Bible not the Pastor is the Final Authority. When I started the church I came out of a movement that emphasized Pastorial Authority over and above Scriptural Authority. The pastor is himself subject unto the Authority of the word and should never place himself or anybody else above it. The Bible is the Final Authority.
- Handle things Biblically and Swiftly. Early on I was reluctant to deal with issues for fear of losing or offending people. 20 years later I can say with absolute assurance ‘its not worth it.’ It is imperative that when issues arise that the shepherd must do things “decently and in order” instead of letting things fester and get out of hand [Matthew 18:15-20; I Corinthians 14:40]. Do not be afraid or reluctant to handle things biblically and swiftly.
- Do not believe your own press. One of the main problems with “some” preachers is that they believe what others are saying about them. Whether negative or positive, but mostly the positive stuff. Because of that we tend to view ourselves in a manner that feed’s into our puffed up ego. If you receive a complement, take it with a grain of salt. Do not believe your own press.
- Sheep come and go. I had to learn this during the first decade of our ministry and I’m still learning as I approach 20 years. The sheep that God sends our way are only our’s to steward for a time and then God moves them along. The problem arises when friendships are forged along the way and then when those folks up and leave we, many times, take it personal. Remember, they are God’s sheep and your stewardship is temporary. Sheep come and go.
- My family is my primary ministry. If you lose your wife and kids along the way, then you have failed in your primary ministry. The job of church planting can be grueling and sometimes overwhelming, especially in the early stages. Let’s not be like the construction guy who is attentive to the needs of others yet his own house is found wanting. My family is my primary ministry.
- Not everybody will like you. This was hard for me because I really like me. Not everybody will like your style of preaching, the stands you take, nor the convictions you hold. While they might be scriptural convictions and scriptural stands, some folks just wont like it. May I say, don’t worry about keeping those folks. When God begins “weedin” don’t replant what God has plucked up. Not everybody will like you. Most important, its about HIM and not YOU.
There is no doubt more that I must learn and that I will learn along the way, but here are seven things that I have learned as I reflect upon 20 years of ministry.
Pastor Jerry Cook is the founding Pastor of the Freedom’s Way Baptist Church in Santa Clarita, CA.