I was torn yesterday between two ideas for today' #seniorPastorMonday. And as of yet, I haven't figured out how to combine the two, so one gets tabled for another time. That said... as I browsed the newsfeed for @BringMe70's Twitter page, one item in particular caught my attention. Of course, churchleaders.com posted an article on the matter earlier today, but when I saw this news... clearly, the struggle is real and the purpose of Bring Me 70 is true.
Consider this the tale of two pastors.
Yesterday, one Senior Pastor, who, give or take a couple of weeks surpassed 24 years at the church he continues to lead. Basically starting from the ground up, the church has grown wide and in recent years, even deeper. To often we look at numbers in terms of growth, but not maturity. Crucial to their success are many factors, among the a consistent, stable vision; a strong staff; a high level of integrity and a focus on discipleship of the congregation, regardless of age. Yesterday also happened to mark their 23rd anniversary of marriage.
Along with the momentus occassion, the church announced filling the position of youth pastor... interestingly, enough, with another young man also, soon to be engaged. This church has helped launch from their congregation, 7 or 8 now, families to start or take over struggling churches; the latest as recently as last weekend. A church that recognizes they are not perfect; yet continually strives for excellence will accomplish much; especially when they understand that in itself is a delicate balance.
Consider a second Senior Pastor. After 14 years of ministry, his service looked entirely different. On the surface, their church has done incredibly well. Started in 2003, the church ministers to 7,0000+ people, through multiple services every weekend, on multiple campuses. In quite the contrast, his statement was entirely opposite.
Effective immediately, after 14 years, a senior Pastor stepped down from his leadership position of this mega-church. Quite succinctly, he informed his congration point blank:
"I'm tired. And I'm broken and I just need some rest."
My heart sank. Of course, churchleaders.com ended their article on this situation with a handful of other articles on burnout and ministry and how to get through the experience of it all, no matter how overwhelming the details may contribute to the problem. While there's a lot that can be done outside of prayer, none of it will be as effective as it could be, if it were covered in prayer.
Lots of what-ifs crossed my mind; as I tried to set aside the technical difficulties I've experienced in recent days and consider what transpired in a mega-church... that nobody was there to help this pastor work through his brokenness. To notice that he needed a break to get some rest. That nobody noticed that he was "leading on empty" to use his words.
There's a great concept, shared by the first senior Pastor and please hear my heart... i'm not advocating the "betterness" of one church over another; for obviously, taking care of pastors needs to be an integral part of any church ministry. But consider this...
The larger a church gets, the smaller a church needs to get. Pastors and congregations, staff and leadership teams need to be intentional in sharing life with each other; outside of scheduled service times, outside of office hours and outside of ministry events. To not take time build up the body of Christ and the leadership of the church with no specific agenda other than to be real and honest about life and its' struggles, then any church, larger or small, on any given Sunday could witness either extreme moment from the pulpit.
So, pray this #seniorPastorMonday, for this pastor and his family during this time. For the brokenness, and the weariness, may this be a time of healing and restoration for he and his family. May whatever priorities that fell out of balance be realigned, as they utilize this time to regroup and recharge. Pray for strength and wisdom for other pastors that are on the verge of experience the same. Pray for the congregations that are in the dark, as perhaps this church was; and pray for the church in the decisions ahead... may they be even more intentional in evaluting what led to yesterdays' announcement and work to implement processes and times that would prevent such situations in the future. Conversely, pray for pastors and churches that are doing well and strong. The devil would like nothing more than to destroy healthy churches, so pray for protection of leadership teams and congregations that are maturing. May their resolve to be intentional in their decisions regarding all aspects of ministry be fortified, as they continue to seek the face of God and live life together as they pursue and fulfill the calling God has placed upon them.
Rest for the weary;
Binding the brokenhearted;
Strength for those whose eyes are set on Him.
For His glory.
Just a man, attempting to fulfill God's plan. Husband, Dad, Dreamer. Blogger.