Ministry Lesson #1

A few months ago I had the pleasure of preaching at senior adult ministry event.  During that event I shared 5 Lessons Learned in Ministry.  I thought I share them with you as well.  Stay tuned for all 5 lessons in the days to come.

Lesson #1: Dogs shouldn’t be allowed in church, much less allowed to observe the Lord’s Supper.

Prior to coming to First Baptist Crawford I helped plant a church in North Waco during my years in seminary. It was a difficult task. The church building we used was once the home of a thriving, white, middle-class church. But over the years the community changed. It became more diverse. Large homes had become rental properties divided into multi-family housing units. Crime increased. The white, middle-class people of the community died or moved out. As the community changed the church did not change. The churches failure to reach the changing community eventually killed the church. That’s a story for another day.

Enter two young seminary students – lots of ideas and no idea of how to do ministry within this particular context.

We never grew to more than 20-25 people at a time. We regularly welcomed people struggling with severe poverty issues, mental illness, drugs and substance abuse, addictions of all kinds, and any other thing you can name. It was rough but I enjoyed it – sometimes.

A few years into the adventure we decided to hold a Good Friday service on Easter weekend. Why? I don’t know why we thought that was a good idea. We had enough problems getting people to church on Sunday. What made us think we could get people there on a Friday night?

As I was driving to church with my girlfriend, who later became my wife, I remarked, “Be prepared for no one to show up. If so, we’ll celebrate the Lord’s Supper and just go home.” As expected I drove up to an empty parking lot. Just the ministry team. We waited. We waited. And then someone showed up. To my surprise, someone else arrived. And then someone else. And then someone else. Eventually we had 16 people in the building.

Well … 16 plus a Chihuahua.

The last woman who walked in was carrying her pet Chihuahua. To be honest with you, I was so excited to see 16 people I didn’t mind seeing the dog. In my mind I thought, “I can count attendance as 17. Nobody needs to know the 17th attendee was a K9.”

This was my inexperience on full display. Everything went fine. I never noticed or heard a single noise from the dog. Until…

The Lord’ Supper had started. The elements had been distributed. My partner in ministry was in front of the congregation saying something full of power and meaning when I heard a noise … I said to myself “Surely that’s not what I think is.” I slowly turned around to find the woman feeding her Chihuahua the Lord’s Supper.

It just might be my lowest moment in ministry. But now I know for sure … Dogs shouldn’t be allowed in church, much less allowed to observe the Lord’s Supper.

 Lesson learned.

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