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Preparing Myself

A pastor, of course, must do many things to prepare to lead people weekly in worship, from preparing a sermon to putting hymnals in place. But before I attend to technical matters, I've learned to attend to spiritual concerns.
— Jack Hayford

I was 22 when I took my first pastorate, a small congregation in Fort Wayne, Indiana. At best we averaged forty-seven people in worship.

We had one rough stretch. As some members moved and others went away for the summer, our average attendance over a five-month stretch dropped steadily, from forty-seven, to forty-four, to thirty-three, to twenty-two, and finally, by the middle of August, to eleven.

One Sunday morning there were only eight people in church. When my family came back for the evening service, nobody showed. No one.

I sat discouraged in the front row next to Anna, my wife, and our baby, who was lying in a bassinet.

I was already defeated after the morning service, but now I felt simply awful. What in the world am I doing there? I thought. If ...

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