The Remarkable Ordinariness of Pastoral Ministry


When I started out as a pastor, I wanted our church to reach the lost.  I hoped to see our ranks stuffed full of people who had been graciously called from darkness to light through our proclamation of the gospel.

We’ve seen some of that happen.  We’ve planted churches for Spanish speakers, we’re starting a food pantry that I hope will bring even more people in.  Folks have come to Christ.  It’s not been the next Great Awakening, it’s not even nearly what I hope for… but it’s been more than what we deserve to see.

I want more of that kind of ministry.  I want to be up to my eyeballs in lost, hurt people who are coming to Christ… but that’s not what I spend most of my day doing.  I prepare sermons.  I counsel people.  I disciple believers.  I periodically blog.   I try to love my wife and shepherd my kids.

And sometimes I get frustrated that I spend so much time doing things that seem so… ordinary.  Not really glamorous.  Not really the stuff that makes you feel like an awesome, successful pastor.

But lately I’ve come to realize something… the people in our church who are doing the “exciting” ministry (planting churches, preparing to be missionaries, starting food pantries, evangelizing the lost) are people who were raised by caring parents or well-taught in good churches or discipled by an older believer.  Someone took the time to do “ordinary” ministry in their life, and now they are bearing a lot of awesome, exciting fruit.

So maybe, just maybe, I won’t be able to immediately see all the fruit of our church’s ministry.  Maybe the lost that will be won aren’t all here right now, but they are in foreign nations where a child in my congregation will someday go.  Maybe they are waiting in the office building of a college student I’m discipling.  Maybe my efforts today, caring, teaching, and shaping are an “exciting” investment after all.

Mike McKinley

Mike is an author and the pastor of Sterling Park Baptist Church in Sterling, Virginia.