Pastor Mike on Partnership & Pastoring
What does Jesus have to say about partnering with him on mission?
James 1:26-27 says a lot about where Jesus’ heart is and where our hearts can be.
“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
How are we as pastors partnering with you on mission?
In short, our partnership with you has everything to do with nurturing a Christ-centered environment where God’s people can find a Christ-like example in their leadership and be challenged by them to join Jesus in mission.
To give you a bit of background, many of you know that the elders at The Village have all been recently ordained as pastors because we believe that scripture in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9 supports the notion that the two terms and qualifications are indeed the same. However, in today’s church culture, when people think about who a pastor is, it’s often very different to what they see an Elder as. I admit that until recently, I too did not see myself and the other elders as pastors even though I have been serving as an overseer for several years. In reference to what Pastor Matt wrote earlier this week, being ordained as a pastor at VCI has helped me gain more tenderness as a pastor and add that to my toughness as an elder. Do I think this combination is helping us become better leaders, more equipped to partner with you in reaching our community? Absolutely!
Straight out of high school, I enrolled in a Christian university that has a focus on training missionaries. I majored in communication with an emphasis on filmmaking. On school breaks I was part of a traveling film team that highlighted different Christian ministries that were serving around the world. After moving to California to pursue a career in filmmaking, I met my wife Jenni and we continued serving our church by rallying support for local and global missionaries, as well as leading short term missions teams around the world. Recently, here at VCI, we have fallen in love with Jesus’ heart for adoption. We love helping people see that Jesus first adopted us and as Dr. Russell D. Moore, author of Adopted For Life said, “We take Jesus’ heart for adoption far more seriously than a metaphor, or mere charity, we follow him in the earthly things, the adoption of children.” By God’s grace, Jenni and I, along with our two sons Jordan and Aidan, were able to travel to South Korea to pick up our precious daughter Hailey in 2012.
What does all this have to do with James 1:26-27? In my mind, it has everything to do with it!
For many years, my heart has been focused on ministering to and raising people up to reach the lost souls around the globe, from Africa to Europe, or from South America to Asia. Jenni and I still have hearts to reach those areas because we know Jesus has a heart for them. But since serving alongside my fellow pastors here at the Village Church and especially by getting to know many of you, my heart has grown in love with Jesus’ heart to serve our community right here in Irvine and Orange County. You can say that a healthier balance is growing in me and at our church. Through study of scripture, prayer and wise counsel, my heart has been convicted more than ever in this; before I can ever expect anyone to join Jesus in mission “out there” in places like El Salvador, or South Africa, I must have a deep love to join Jesus in mission right here outside my front door. The past two years, greater than ever, I have been blessed in helping to lead our church in reaching our neighbors, or co-workers, or people with benevolent needs…and NOT out of obligation, but out of deep love.
Pastoring and partnering is “both / and”….
When referring to Jesus’ heart about what pure and undefiled religion is, most of us only refer to verse 27 in James 1. “Visit the orphans and widows in their affliction” is the practical doing, but what about Jesus’ heart behind it? What about the being? In keeping the full context, I also included verse 26 which says, “(if he) does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, his religion is worthless.” and verse 27 ends by saying, “and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” A series of sermons could be written on these verses, but to boil it down, I’m saying that Jesus is calling us, his people to have balance in first being, then doing when joining him on mission.
So here are a few things I’ve learned while being a pastor at the Village Church:
Pure religion is not just about doing, reaching serving, it’s mainly about being, loving, caring. We are more effective joining Jesus on mission as we focus on becoming more like Jesus. This helps us partner together better because we’re aligned under one person – Jesus. And as a pastor, my goal is to love Jesus more and demonstrate his love in a way that is worthy of following or imitating.
Joining Jesus on mission is BOTH local and global because his heart is in both places. People gain a heart globally when they serve locally and vice-versa. We become a better church when we focus on both. Hopefully people are seeing a healthy balance here at VCI.
We are much more effective in mission when we partner together. That’s why we focus on reaching out together as Community Groups, or in specific areas around the world, or locally.
I LOVE the tenderness that comes with being a pastor! Making big church decisions as an elder is fun because it helps our church, but perceiving someone in need at our church, loving them through Jesus’ eyes, then getting to pray for them, or visit them in the hospital, or rally the church to pray or help fulfill a need is the most rewarding gift of all! AND in this, we are becoming more tender as a whole church!!
I LOVE watching Jesus move in the hearts of every man, woman and child at our church. If you go back and re-read the VCI Partnership blog posts the past two weeks, it won’t take long to see that most of the ministry at our church is happening in the living rooms, front yards, offices and schools of our people. As pastors we have the privilege of helping equip our people and allow Jesus to work through them.
I could go on and on, but my commitment to all of you, Village Church, is to BE more like Jesus and help you BE more like Jesus so that we can TOGETHER be more effective in joining him on mission both LOCALLY and GLOBALLY. I look forward to being a church family with you for the years to come!
Loving and Caring in Partnership With You,
Pastor Mike Ramsey