Beliefnet
Jesus Creed

Here is a letter from a pastor (a former student) to his congregation out in Manhattan, KS, named Steve Ratliff. Great guy; great pastor.

Five Things I Love About This Church
By Steve Ratliff

Please rest assured that I don’t have any illusions that Faith Evangelical Free Church is “the perfect church” or that we are the right church for everybody. I gave up such ideals long ago. We will always have tons of room for growth. Nevertheless, there are many things about you as a church that I absolutely love. I’ll share five of those things.

You have a genuine love for the Word. This is most obvious when I stand before you to preach. I get the sense that you are waiting for a word for God Himself when we open the Scriptures together on Sundays. I never get the feeling that you’re expecting me to preach anything other than what I understand the Word to teach. I can’t tell you how motivating this is for someone whose “main thing” is teaching the Scriptures. Even when an occasional one of you falls asleep during a sermon, I’m not thinking, “That person doesn’t love God or His Word”; I’m thinking, “That person must really, really need sleep.”

You aren’t afraid to sacrifice. I’m continually amazed how many people within this church are willing to sacrifice in following God. You can’t read the gospels without concluding that discipleship (following Christ) involves sacrifice, but this realization doesn’t always translate into actual sacrifice. I see many, many of you investing massive amounts of time and energy in the formal ministries of this church; and I see many of you investing the same in “informal” ministries when you come across people who need you. I love being part of a church whose culture includes a willingness to sacrifice.

You are open to change when there’s a good reason to change. I’ve always appreciated your willingness to try new things when there’s a good reason to do so. Our worship services are a good example of what I have in mind. When we ran out of space in the 10:30 service, we added a noon service (during the school year). Miraculously (in my mind), every week 75 to 100 people made the change to the noon service. When we realized we needed more room at the 10:30 service, we added a video venue worship service at 10:40. Miraculously (in my mind), a solid core of you have made the change to that service. I love your willingness to flex and change when it’s needed.

You laugh at my okra sermon year after year after year.

My family loves this church. Not all pastors are able to say that their families love the church they are serving. I am happy to report, however, that Faith E-Free has been a wonderful place for our family. You have been incredibly generous and gracious to Brenda and me; you have allowed us to be ourselves and have given us the freedom to live “normal” lives. Faith E-Free has also been a wonderful place for Chrissy, Rose, and Riley; this is the only church they have ever known. Whenever we have baby dedications and infant baptisms on Sunday mornings, I am reminded how wonderful it is to be part of a church that takes seriously its responsibility to encourage the children in our midst. Their love for this church is a direct reflection of your love for them. Thank you.

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