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"Be strong and of good courage. Do not be afraid or dismayed.” ~ (1 Chronicles 22:13b, c.) Those same words were spoken by God to Joshua three times, Joshua 1:6, Joshua 1:7, and Josh ua1:9a.


As I reflect on those verses of scripture, I think of my own journey as a young person, lay person, and committing to the pastoral journey.


When Rhonda and I began dating in high school, we had the same teacher, but for different courses. Rhonda had Mrs. H for Algebra. While I was in Mrs. H’s trigonometry class. When Mrs. H realized Rhonda and I were dating she told Rhonda she could find someone better to date. I could have taken those words as words of discouragement however I chose not to.


Many years later, Rhonda and I taught fifth & sixth grade Sunday school for a year, and after several weeks we became discouraged and prayed for some revelation or encouragement, for we felt like we were NOT getting through to the students. After several weeks of praying for en couragement, a couple of the parents revealed to us that we were getting through to the students, and shared how their conversations over lunch following Sunday school and worship focused on discussing the lesson that the students received that morning.


Last September while attending the New Room Conference in Houston, in one of the worship sessions, they invited all the music and worship leaders to the stage to face the audience and see the praise and worship from the stage viewpoint. This was done to encourage those music and worship leaders, as many were from small congregations and churches.


It is quite easy for pastors to get discouraged when the worship attendance is sporadic or continuously low. Worship attendance always decreases during the summer months; even for some of the larger congregations, with vacations, youth in summer sports, illness, etc.


For this pastor, it is no different! However, the attendance fluctuation has become a year round observance for many of the congregations I have served over the past 24 years. Which at times leads me to ask God, I am failing as a pastor/leader? I ask God as well as myself, am I reaching anyone through the worship services and messages? Has the time come for me to step back and return to retired status so that a younger more vibrant clergyperson can come and pas tor these two congregations?


I am not trying to conduct a self-pity party! Rather, I am trying to be realistic! And I seek your prayers that God would guide me in the right direction in the days ahead, as your pastor and leader of these congregations!


In HIS service and wisdom!

Pastor Tom

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