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  • Baptist Beacon

Developing a heart of thankfulness

by Ken Nether

SOUTHFIELD, MI – Can I be honest? I believed this year would be a year of exponential growth in our ministry. Just as we started catching momentum, COVID-19 came knocking at our door and it seemed that everything we worked for came to a screeching halt.

So for the next several months, my living room became our sanctuary, and instead of preaching from the pulpit on Sunday mornings, I would wait until everyone in the house was sound asleep as I would muster up the energy to preach as if I was speaking in front of a packed house. Well, one thing is sure, it was at my house, but it was far from being packed.

At first “home church” was exciting for me because I was learning so much about online ministry, and how we can creatively share the gospel with people who ordinarily would not step foot in our church. However, as time went on, I became weary of connecting with people’s profiles and not being able to see people’s faces. Amid “homeschooling” our kids due to the virus and learning various new skills as a pastor, I started to become frustrated because most of what I was doing was not a part of my “job description.” Amongst homeschooling, racial tensions, political divisiveness and the like, I began to feel overwhelmed with leading myself, let alone leading a church.

Have you ever felt that your best was not good enough?

One thing that has helped me get out of moments of discouragement is to cultivate a heart of thankfulness. So how do we begin to have a heart of thankfulness? It begins with our mindset.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Philippians 4:8 (ESV)

As a result of the “stay at home” orders, my wife and I started to think about how we could spend time together as a family and do things creatively. Since my living room was already converted into a studio for filming my messages, we decided to do a family photoshoot which allowed us to create memories with our kids that are now portraits which are plastered on our wall in the dining room.

I am thankful for Debbie who is the wife of Tim Shrader, a Church Planting Catalyst for NAMB, who gave my daughter piano lessons online and in-person as she needed to release some stress due to her being away from her friends from school.

I am thankful for Mile City who allowed me to use their facilities to record my messages when I became weary of staying up all night editing videos for our online broadcast.

I am thankful for my fellow Church Planting Catalysts who have decided to engage and offer solutions in regard to racial reconciliation so we can serve our churches more effectively moving forward.

I am thankful for Crossover Church, as we were able to provide free pizza for more than 200 families in need over the summer when people needed hope.

Now that I think about it. This was the year of exponential growth in our ministry. Also, I believe it was the year of growth in yours. Perhaps God was more interested in growing us instead of growing our buildings. Maybe God was teaching us to learn how to have a thankful heart regardless of the hardships we face.

I don’t know what the future may bring but, in the meantime, I have decided to be thankful. I think you should too.



Ken Nether is the lead pastor of Crossover Church in Southfield, MI, and also a Church Planting Catalyst with the North American Mission Board. He has been married to his beautiful wife Tolice for 9 years and has two children Kennedy (8) and Lincoln (6). 


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