Pastor Jermin shares his thoughts on this, the 8th Anniversary of the felllowship’s founding…
It has been 8 years…
8 years since the first little group met around a dining table in Brooklyn, and began a journey.
We weren’t really sure WHAT it was going to be, but we knew that it WAS supposed to be, and that was what we stood on.
We called ourselves ‘The Repairer’s Fellowship’ all of us having traversed the unforgiving wilderness of ‘church’, all of us bearing the scars of numerous battles, some minor skirmishes that merely left a bad taste in one’s mouth, some major wars which left one bloodied and deeply wounded. We knew a couple of basic things:
1) God IS
2) He has provided the cure for every ailment, every hurt, and the solution to every issue.
3) Healing happens in the midst of the community of the redeemed.
8 years later, a lot has transpired. People have come, people have gone. People have been born, people have gone home. People have married, people have divorced. People have separated, people have reconciled. The numbers have ebbed and flowed, sometimes we’ve had a full house, other times food has sat untouched because the house was empty.
The idea of ‘life in community’ has been a hard sell; in fact, I must admit that it has been nearly impossible to practice in real life. This reality has surprised and saddened (in fact grieved) me for a long time, because it is so clear to me that this is the message of the Bible, this is the strength of the Church, and I believe to my core that we are, as a body of believers, doing ourselves a disservice by not seeking to live in the way that the Bible prescribes…
But I understand that the idol of ‘success’, and the dual messaging of ‘independence’ and ‘individuality’ are interwoven into every aspect of ‘modern life’ (this includes modern American church life), and interdependence (the Biblical standard) is viewed as weakness, by many.
As such, for me there have been moments of great joy, and others of deep sadness, even sometimes despair.
It has been said that ‘doctrine divides’. I have found this to be true. Unlike some who avoid dealing with the tough issues for fear of offense, (‘Go along to get along’ is not a Biblical construct) we have had to, and admittedly sometimes with great trepidation, approach what was difficult and seek the Word for clarity, and make decisions.
We have done this, all the while knowing that this might cause some to leave, and it has, in no uncertain terms. Most often this has been because people like the God that they’ve been taught or made for themselves, the Jesus that aligns with their chosen parameters, and would rather bend this God to their whim, then bend to His Word.
It must be noted that: Midway through this experience, I was introduced to the doctrines of Grace, and I began to see so very clearly, The Sovereignty of God, and with that, an understanding of Grace that is sometimes overwhelming… Mind and ministry completely revolutionized, I began to teach them in depth, and in earnest… I was very surprised when all did not embrace the comfort and assurance of knowing that God was in fact truly Lord of All, and that as one of our Elders says ‘Everything that concerns us, concerns Him.’ This was especially evident when we studied the doctrine of Election… That was the final line of demarcation.
This in fact, caused some to leave. Perhaps it was my delivery, perhaps my earnestness, perhaps my complete conviction that this is in fact what The Bible teaches. Perhaps it was that their concept of God was unsettled by the Bible itself, and it was too much for them…
We lost others when it became clear to them, that I would not do what they wanted when they wanted, and how they wanted. This of course meant that because I did not see things exactly their way, I was no longer hearing from God…
One learns as a Pastor/leader:
- Not to take things personally.
- Everything in the barn isn’t necessarily your sheep.
- Today isn’t always. Those with you now, may not be tomorrow, and that’s OK
- Some aren’t sheep at all, even if they look and sound like it at first.
As I sit here and try to think through, ponder, circumspectly evaluate the past 8 years, I am somewhat blank emotionally. This is odd, because I thought that I would have some emotion. I don’t, (perhaps I am suppressing it) at least not in the sense of wistful longing, or sadness or regret.
I experience a deep sense of gratitude most days, with some frustration and even annoyance, when things do not go my way, but as another of our Elders says, ‘we must get over ourselves’.
Mostly I am grateful.
I am grateful to God for the men and women who have stuck it out and remain.
I am grateful for my family. My wife and daughter, who see, and understand, and continue to walk this road with me.
I am grateful for the people who see enough of Christ in me that they entrust me with themselves. (Aha, my tears are letting me know that I am not as suppressed as I thought)
I am grateful to God for the new ones who are circling the periphery and are as yet a bit unsure (a former attendee used to refer to herself as a ‘sheep at large’), but know that they need more, and are intrigued by the possibilities.
I am grateful to God for the honor of pastoring His people, to nuture and be nurtured by them, each in their own way.
It is an honor to be in fellowship with people of God, a privilege to be able to share my own travails in safety, knowing that I will be lifted up when I need that, and corrected when I need that. It is humbling.
I am learning to be more consistent in the day to day, to be more faithful to the accomplishment of the task set before me. I am aware that I must be even more studious and diligent with my handling of the scripture. I am learning every day that more (much more) time must be spent in prayer, and I must be more trusting in the assurance that no matter what it may look like to me, God does indeed have a plan, and his way is the best way.
There are times, I admit, when I look over the fence, to other pastures, (especially when numbers and funding seem scarce, and the ‘needs doing’ list is longer that the ‘doers’ list) and I wonder what it would be like to have a big pen with lots of sheep. Invariably, I come back to the fact that if the pen has a lot of sheep, they are usually little sheep, completely dependent on the pastor’s every word. Sheep who will gladly toil and pay for the honor of toiling to build the pastor’s pen (aka ministry/vision, etc.) (I used to be one while in another’s pen).
I am sure that it would be monetarily beneficial. But that is not my calling. I knew from day one that the task for me was to be Big Sheep, not big pens.
I must stand on His Word, and continue to put my hand to the plow. There is a field in front of me that I am responsible for, and I must accomplish that with which I have been tasked.
So I will thank Him for the first 8 years, and trust Him for however more there will be, and ask/trust Him to show me when the changes are up ahead, so that I can adjust.
To God Be The Glory, great things He has done.