Don’t give up — keep climbing

Pastor Thad Gifford - Contributing Columnist

Beth and I have recently started a new way of life. It’s called a “fitness program!”

We both want to get healthy and feel better about ourselves, so we have dusted off the exercise equipment in our basement, (found another place to hang our clothes) and we have begun to eat healthier, drink water instead of diet pop and walk when we can.

We have even entered and finished several 5K’s. Not that we run the entire course, but fast walk, jog, sprint and walk gets the job done. I guess it’s better than sitting on the couch eating a chili dog. At any rate, there will be someplace in the race where one of us needs encouragement from the other. Either I am encouraging her to give it a little more or she is encouraging me. And with that encouragement, we have finished every race we have started so I think that is pretty good.

It’s easy to get discouraged during a race though. When I see a 20-something jogging the entire route and I’m giving it my best to stay up with everyone, it’s easy to get discouraged.

Trying to “build a church” can become discouraging too. We started in April of last year trying to get a new building built because we are running out of seating room and classrooms and running out of parking places where we are now. With codes and ordinances and permits and drawings and plans and this and that and now the weather. I know it will be soon, but I am getting discouraged about that too.

Then this week, I made a few phone calls to several people who had been attending and found out they were going to another church for one reason or another. While I am glad they are going to church, I sure do wish they were going to Crossroads. I’m one of those “crazy” pastors that when I make a friend, I want to keep them and be friends for life. I don’t want something to come up and find out they are attending another church. Did you know that pastors have feelings, too?

In the early church, followers of Jesus didn’t have too many choices about what church to attend. But today, it seems like a lot of people want to attend the “mega-church” where everything is done for them and all they have to do is attend and “sit and soak” and go home. They are not required to do anything except be provided a Sunday worship service that meets their needs and if they don’t like the preaching or the songs or there isn’t a program for everyone in the family, they take off and find a church where everything is in place for them. Maybe they forgot that the “mega-church” started off small at one time too and if the people hadn’t stayed around and pitched in and helped instead of running off to the larger churches, that “mega-church” would be small today too.

I’ll speak on behalf of your pastor who wants you to know that it’s hard to build a church, keep everyone satisfied and stay positive when the flood gates break open and he feels like he’s been swallowed up in the waters of defeat. After 40 years in the ministry I can share with you that many times a pastor’s role is not appreciated and often taken for granted. When you leave the church building on Sunday morning, you probably don’t think about the church until the next Sunday morning when you lay in your bed and make the decision whether to attend or not. I can assure you that your pastor thinks about the church people, their spiritual growth, the church building, the outreach of the church and a million-and-one other things church related from the time his eyes pop open in the morning until he closes them at night. It’s a lonely and difficult job.

Hebrews 3:13 tells us “Encourage one another daily.” Believers are to encourage each other daily. We are urged to intercede in prayer for each other. We are commanded to live pure and holy lives and stay connected to the church (Hebrews 10:25). Through His death and resurrection, Jesus has connected believers to each other — we are brothers and sisters in the Lord. Therefore, we have the responsibility and privilege to encourage fellow believers to finish the race that is ahead of them, to not drop out and sit on the sidelines, and to trust and obey Him.

When was the last time you encouraged someone to keep following Jesus? When was the last time you rolled up your sleeves and pitched in to make something better at your church instead of running off to another church that didn’t need your help? When was the last time you held up the arms of your pastor and let him know that you “had his back” and that you were there for him? Maybe it’s time for you to be a minister to him and let him receive some encouragement from you for awhile.

And that is Something to Think About for this week. Blessings.

By the way, if you are on Facebook, you can watch our service “live” on Sunday morning at 10:45 a.m. Simply “like” our Facebook page and watch.

Pastor Thad Gifford

Contributing Columnist

Pastor Thad Gifford is the founding and lead pastor of the Crossroads Community Church, 62 E. Second St., London. He can be reached at 740-852-7800, email him at, or visit the church’s Facebook page at Crossroadslondon.

Pastor Thad Gifford is the founding and lead pastor of the Crossroads Community Church, 62 E. Second St., London. He can be reached at 740-852-7800, email him at, or visit the church’s Facebook page at Crossroadslondon.