The Story Behind the Picture...

I know. That mustache is creepy. Hey, it was the very early 80s. Not the 1880s—the 1980s.

I recently came across this picture and it got me thinking.

I've been in youth ministry literally since I believed the Gospel at 15 years old. When I turned 16, one of the the first things I did was load up my very crappy, horribly rusted chocolate brown Chevy Vega every Sunday with kids from the housing projects where I lived and took them to church with me. 

No one told me to do it. 

As a very young follower of Jesus, it felt natural to start right where I lived.

Later, when I was 17 or 18, around the time of the picture above, my pastor found out I was walking the downtown streets of my hometown sharing the Gospel on Friday and Saturday nights with many of my peers. My pastor, about 30 years my elder, Reverend Raymond Rickert, joined me on my mission. Eventually, several minor miracles happened and the church, after some hesitation and debate, decided to open up a ministry center right on Main Street called "Cross Roads." (See what we did there? Clever. LOL.)  Looking back, I'm still surprised it all happened.

I'm so thankful for people like Pastor Rickert. Later, in my early 20s, I worked with Pastor Rickert as the youth pastor of First Baptist Church for over 8 years. At the time, I had no idea how much the way Pastor Rickert lived, loved, and led had rubbed off on me. It was down-low disciplemaking at it's best.

Cool story bro. So what?

Here's the amazing part to me. Often, church is about getting people to attend Sunday morning and getting them involved inside the church. Pastor Rickert saw a young, clueless, but sincere teenager, and, instead of asking me to get involved inside the church (which I did anyway), he joined me on mission Friday and Saturday nights on the streets of our small town.

That's different.

Don't miss the point: My pastor made my mission, his mission. Of course, it was all Jesus' disciplemaking mission.

It all makes me wonder.

Instead of trying to pull people into our churches and ministries for mere attendance,  what we if we joined what God is doing in others?

Here's the ironic part.

Because my pastor joined me on Jesus' mission, I've been immersed inside the local church ever since.

Of course, I love it when the church gathers on Sundays. But I love the church on mission Monday through Saturday just as much.

Thank you God for disciplemaking pastors who dare to live on mission with others.

Reverend Raymond J. Rickert


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