Tony Miltenberger is a husband, father, and follower of Christ. He is currently serving as the lead pastor at Restoration Church Centerville, ohio.

My Six-Month Review: Part Two – The Church

This is the second post in a three-post series about what it means to try to lead one of God’s churches. The first post was devoted to internal reflection and what I’m learning about myself. (You can find it here.) This week I am going to focus on what I am learning about the church. If you want to stay up to date with all of my posts, the best way is to subscribe via email.  

I would never have guessed that I would get to have a relationship with an entire church. It truly is mind-boggling how God uses the church to communicate with me about the people of God and how I can best act as their servant leader. Coming from a large church that was fluid and constantly moving to a church that has strong tradition was a change. It has been a fun change, and it continues to teach me a ton about what it means to serve a local church. While these are my thoughts on this church, I am certain it applies to many of us who are living in any local church. Here are some of my favorite reflections.

1.     The church needs grace from me. The idea of moving pastors around has great merit, and when done properly is a huge asset. In this situation, however, and through no one’s fault, there has been hurt. There has been hurt that people didn’t get to stay longer, and there has sometimes been hurt that people stayed too long. Either way, where there is hurt there are trust issues. My biggest reality is that I need to be aware of the trust issues and give grace so that we can work through it together.

2.     The church gets to live in tension. Every day we live in the tension of what has always been and what will be. For decades, the Gospel has played out a certain way with a certain format. As a new leader, I bring ideas that may seem different or outside the box. The most important thing I can do for the church is to experience the tension with them.  It is important to understand that this is hard, and that they want to support me, but at the same time they are scared that we will lose everything we’ve always done. The truth is, there are no “right” answers to the tension; there is just the fact that it exists.

3.     The church needs a leader to be in the community, not above it. The best gift I can give to church members is to show up and be present in their lives. Notice I said lives and not just worship. Our church members are showing me the call to pastor is a call to walk alongside them.

4.     The church needs authenticity. My buddy Roz says, “They don’t care how much you know till they know how much you care.” Wow, has that been true. The church really just wants me to stand up there and tell them what is going on and where we are going. Even if I don’t have a plan, they just want me to be honest about it.

5.     The church needs me to communicate. And then when I think I’ve said it enough, I need to say it at least two more times. Communicate, communicate, communicate. I’m learning that it is impossible for me to communicate enough. My number one job is to communicate where we are and where God is leading us.

6.     The church needs to know the vision. If I don’t tell them the vision that God has for this church, then I should just pack up and leave. Ordering the life of the church is to get everyone united around the vision and mission. When everyone is rowing in the same direction, there is no stopping us!

7.     We all need to remember this isn’t our church. It is God’s church and, for this season, God has entrusted us to be the stewards of His resources at this location.

What an honor to serve and be in community with the local church. I can’t imagine a better way to use the gifts that God has given me. I am blown away at everything God is doing in and through us. What an adventure!

My Six-Month Review: Part Three – Pastoring

My Six-Month Review as a Lead Pastor: Part One