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Mentoring and Ministry: Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell


He has been a spiritual advisor to Presidents Bush and Obama, and a mentor to countless young pastors. In three decades of leading one of the largest congregations in the U.S., the Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell has developed his own style of preaching, and his own strong opinions about staying vital.

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(Locator: Houston, Texas)

(Preaching) "You can't play basketball with a baseball glove. God is doing a new thing in your life and you're still holding on to what used to be."

The Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell: "When I arrived as the pastor of Windsor Village in 1982, I had hair and it was black. And we had 25 faithful members. I peered through the front door and I saw pill bugs, and I saw cobwebs. And I saw a Lawrence Welk organ. And I saw a pulpit and a piece of the microphone and a cross. And I thought, 'That's all we need. That's all we need.' And I shared with the administrative council then that 'We're going to do three things:We're going tohave a strong education ministry, not just on Sundays with Sunday school, but during the week dealing with secular needs of the people because that's what John Wesley did. That's how Sunday school began. We're gonna have a winsome worship service. And we're gonna reach out to our children and youth.' I don't mind telling you that our budget for the entire year, at that time, equals the amount that we take up at most 8 o'clock services now.

"I never asked the Lord for a big church, didn't expect this to become a big church. We just chose to blossom where we were planted and did what the Lord wanted us to do while we were quote/unquote small. But let me be very clear about this. Just because you're bigger doesn't mean you're better. Just because you're smaller, doesn't mean you're worse. In fact, I know some lousy big churches, and some great small churches. It's not about the number of heads-noggins-in the seat. It's about the size of your commitment and your heart and your faith level."

(Preaching) "I am a champion. Therefore, I refuse to lay down!"

"I'm told that Windsor sends more folk into other pulpits than any other church in the state, for sure, if not the country.

(The Rev. Rudy Rasmus preaches) "God is the same one who can call those things that be not."

"It's becoming increasingly critical for us to identify young pastors."

(Ray Bady preaches) :You shouldn't just say joy, you should live joy."

"The truth is that we tend to encourage mediocrity. Once you're ordained, if you preach a sermon on Sundays - good, bad or average; bury the bodies of folk when they die; do a baptism every now and then; don't rob a bank; don't beat your spouse; don't show up on the news in a negative way; you'll keep your job. In some other denominations, if you don't preach and preach well, if you don't teach and teach well, if you don't add value and do it efficiently, if you don't have programming and do it spiritually, you don't get paid."

(Preaches) "Who's gonna show up at the office today?"

"I maintain that most people who are looking to join a dead church have already joined it. So if you want to do something that's vital and has some zip and some snap."

(Preaches) "Let everything that has breath give God some praise."

"Multiple ministries are very, very important. I've heard pastors make fun of some churches that have a lot of ministries. I heard one pastor refer to a church as 'Six Flags over Jesus.' And the point he was trying to make was that they gotta have all this stuff going on. They try to put a Jesus flag over it, and it's not working. But, you know, Jesus had a pretty cool diversified ministry. He didn't just do one thing. John Wesley had a pretty cool diversified ministry. He didn't just do one thing."

(Preaches) "These people give, volunteer their time, their talent, and if anyone gets paid up here they don't get paid much."

"I want to encourage every local church, every pastor, every clergyperson, every layperson to use Scripture. How do you want the Word that we hear on Sunday and throughout the week in Bible study, how do you want your Word to become flesh in this community, right now where we're planted? Not where we're looking to go, not where we wish we were, but right here, right now. How do you want your Word to become flesh and dwell among us? Is it a tutorial program? Is it a housing project? Do something. If your church were to die today, somebody should miss you when you're gone, you know? If nobody'sgoing tomiss you, then why do you deserve to occupy that dirt where the church stands?"


For more information, contact Windsor Village United Methodist Church at 713-723-8187.

This story was produced by United Methodist Communications. Media contact is Fran Walsh

This story was first posted on May 16, 2011.