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Small Talk

"So, are you taking over Dan Coker's church?"

It was the day after we accepted the call to become the next pastor of the First Southern Baptist Church of the Monterey Peninsula. We were getting information to enroll our youngest son in school when the clerk at the school asked me the question.

The question hit me wrong for a couple of reasons. I didn't like the phrase, "taking over." It made me feel like a corporate raider acquiring a business. I prefer the terminology we use, "to accept the call." A pastor doesn't "take over," he accepts a call that is issued from God and from a church to become their pastor.

The second part of that question bothered me too. It sounds like the pastor "owns" the church. This church never belonged to Dan Coker and it will never belong to me--it is God's church. People can start to believe they own the church. Maybe they've been members a long time, have contributed a large sum of money, or they hold important offices in the church. Regardless, the church will always belong to God. Jesus Christ redeemed her with His precious blood. The church belongs to Him. Not to me, and not to you--the church belongs to Him.

For a brief moment I flirted with correcting the nice lady across the counter from us. I could tell her I wasn't taking over anything and that the church would always belong to the Lord. Instead, I just replied "yes," got the information we needed and left.

She probably didn't mean anything by the question, it was just small talk, but deep down inside it reminded me of something I can't afford to ever forget.



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