I love tattoos. For me, they are symbols of the journey that I am on with God and with family. They mark my life…telling a story of values and encounters.
When you think about it…we are all marked. You may not have tattoos to display your journey, but your heart surely carries the marks of a journey lived and marked by key events that shape your story.
As I pastor a local church, leading through all kinds of ups and downs, trial and victories, I am very aware of the events and people who have marked my leadership journey and set my values for leadership.
I recognize that one of the key events marking my life is my experience growing up in a thriving local church.
The Chapel in the Pines in Twain Harte, California was an incredible place to grow up. The church was joyfully drawing families to Jesus. Salvation stories were plentiful. Transformed lives filled the pews and powerful stories seemed to be everywhere. Worship was overflowing with life and the Word was made very clear in compelling and relevant messages.
I was “marked” because normal church life was defined for me by vibrant lives shining with stories of the power of God. A community was crafted that was full of life and overflowing with energy. The word I constantly find myself using to tell the story of growing up in that church family is “vibrant.”
I will never forget the image of an older man who discovered Jesus and regardless of what any might think of him he would raise his hands in worship and sing at the top of his lungs. He has fallen deeply in love with Jesus!
Merriam-Webster says vibrant means “pulsating with life.” This is what marked my soul. This is what defined local church for me as a child. It set my expectation and became what I assumed to find when encountering church. Vibrant church became my personal template or definition for what church was.
I am sure that the leaders of my childhood church had no idea what was being tattooed in the dictionary of my soul.
We never know who is watching…whose soul is being marked by the decisions we make and the cultures we create. What words will they choose to apply to their experience of our leadership?
Tomorrow’s leaders are watching us. They are taking notes. The cultures we craft in our churches are leaving tattoos on their souls.
Lately I have become very aware of this reality as I lead our team that oversees all ministries to children. I have started asking the question: “What culture is this creating in our children? What will this decision say to those who are watching and receiving our care?” It has become a measuring tool for me as I serve and lead.
The mark that Chapel in the Pines left on me has become a hope-filled memory, which provides motivation for today.
I am praying for you today…that God would use you to mark the lives of the next generation with vibrant church cultures! May you find great joy in influencing those who are watching. May you feel the grace of the Spirit on your dreams, plans, and vision for creating church!
May we find the courage to craft cultures that pulsate with the life of Jesus!