I want to add to my previous post about my time in Houston Texas as a young man eager to be recognized as a godly man without actual godliness. Grace Bible Church was a mistake in my eyes but it was part of God’s sovereign will nonetheless. To say that the church itself was a mistake does not mean that the people within the church were mistakes. Far from it. Many of them were used by God to help this young man grow in his faith. Genuine friendships developed. Genuine fellowship experienced. And my awkward growth as a Christian was also confined to a relatively small area of impact.
As a Henry I am by nature fairly aggressive. I do not say this as something that is good or bad, it just is. But at the same time I have a very sensitive side of me that people often do not understand. Though I am a pastor I am an introvert as well which makes for some unique situations at times. If I had my way I would retreat rather than advance in many situations. What is a saving grace in my life is also a strong sense of duty that forces me to step out of my safety zone and into real life.
If I were part of a larger church I think that I would have been hurt as I clumsily moved forward in my faith. But friends like Phil, or Bruce, and Lou were patient with me throughout my time there. Because it was a small church I was able to see many aspects of how a church functions on multiple levels. I realized during that time that there is a business aspect that that simply exists whether you like it or not. I learned that people need to be faithful in serving and giving especially when the church is small. I learned that a pastor is not Jesus; rather, he is just a man just like me.
It was at that little church that I had the opportunity to actually preach. It was at that little church that I began to realize that preaching was serious work. It was at that church that I began to slowly begin to see that I was a pompous jerk, and yet my friends were still friends. I remember once preaching a sermon out of James, it was my second sermon if I remember correctly, when I was discussing the relationship of verse five with verses two through four. I was trying to show that verses five through eight were tightly connected to verses two to four and my pastor was sitting in the front row. I was very nervous but I preached what I thought was correct and afterward my pastor came to me and admitted that he had never realized the connection of verse five with the previous verses. An opportunity for humble appreciation on my part but instead to my shame I told him, “Really? It seemed obvious to me.” He took graciously but even now I am ashamed.
Hypocrisy is not something I am unaware of. I remember praying with other men as decisions were being made regarding who would be the elders of the church. Previously I mentioned that one way we can know the heart of a man and his maturity is through his prayers. And so now as I was gathered with other men praying I was trying to mold my prayers in such a manner that would show that obviously I am one of those godly men. What a joke. I was not selected as an elder but I was not brushed off to the side either.
Updated, fixing some errors I missed. Still learning Dragon Naturally Speaking.
It has been a long time since I have posted anything and it has not been by accident. Over the last year-plus I have been doing a lot of thinking, a lot of healing, and a lot of hurting. In that time I have continued to pastor my church and have seen many things come my way, both good and bad, hard and pleasant. But in all of it I have been continuing to try to understand what God has called me to be and do.
Now, understand, I know what He has called me to be on the macro level, but it is on the micro level that I have done a lot of thinking. I am over 50 now and I have seen my children grow into adulthood. In the last year I have married two of them. I have one daughter expecting our first grandchild. I have been to Arlington Cemetery to honor my father-in-law. I have hugged my wife many times and I have learned a new hobby, woodworking. I have traveled with a dear friend to Athens, Greece to meet with many Christian leaders and tell them of a way they might be better equipped. And in all of this I have thought, deeply. What does God call me to be?
I am seeing things more clearly now. I am thinking more maturely on what it looks like to be ‘missional’ and how that works itself out in real life. And in all of this I am seeing God’s hand in many subtle ways I never saw before. I watch the body of believer God has given me grow and change it is humbling to me. Whereas before I desired more and more, now I am becoming more content to simply pour into those who are before me the glories of my Lord.
All of this is to say, I am back but I am unsure of exactly what that looks like. I want to finish the story of how I ended up where I am. But I want to expand that so that the blog takes on my personality.
It is with great reluctance that I am starting this blog and with little expectation from it. I am writing this only because a man I respect told me I ought to do so. That was a little over a year ago and finally I think I may be ready to write. Or not. With that powerful introduction aside, allow me to explain myself.
My name is Matthew Henry and I am not named after the famous guy, my dad just liked the sound of it. I am a pastor. But not like I envisioned. My journey to where I am now has been a long one, filled with a lot of questions, and a lot of ridicule from both friends and foes alike. I am one of those people who is stupid enough to ask questions that are not supposed to be asked. Not that they are deep questions, or necessarily good questions. They are just questions about things such as theology, practices and reality that seemed to be already answered but of which I am not yet convinced. Things like how the Canon came about or what is the primary purpose of Romans? One of those questions that I began to ask a several years ago is what the Church is supposed to look like and how is it to function. And as I pursued answers to that question, stuff happened. Big stuff. Scary stuff. The kind of stuff that makes you stay up at night and get your stomach all twisted up inside.
So off I went on this journey, all the while pastoring my little SBC church in Kenosha, Wisconsin and raising a family of three girls and a boy with my faithful wife. Clueless is a word that comes to mind when I think of the beginning of that journey but that did not deter me. The title of this blog is on purpose. To meander means ‘to wind or turn in a course or to move in a leisurely way.” And that captures me well. Until it was time to press for serious changes in my church, I meandered down the course of change turning this way and that, occasionally finding cul-de-sacs and ugly dead ends, and other times scary, narrow paths that made me a bit worried. So my goal is simply to begin to chronicle my meandering journey on becoming more missional in my approach to “doing” (maybe “being the” is a better term) church.
Somehow this man, born into the Plymouth Brethren branch of Christendom, raised in the conservative Bible Church world, tossed into the strange realm of the Southern Baptist Convention in the North, found himself using terms like becoming missional and learning to be outward facing and gospel-focused. So that is why I am writing this blog. We will see what happens