Have you heard about the “Great Resignation?” Many people are quitting their jobs. So many in the recent months that it has been given the name: the Great Resignation. While this trend mainly focuses on the private sector, it has been felt within the churches, too. There are many churches currently hiring pastors because pastors have quit and are not in a hurry to take on another pastoral position.
I would like to give you nine reasons not to quit today.
1. You have been called by God.
If you are a pastor, you have been called to this role. Do not let the frustrations of covid and the hard work of ministry make you leave your calling.
2. Your church needs you.
No matter how long you have walked with your congregation, you know them better than any other pastor. They know you better than any other pastor. They may be walking through similar frustrations in life and need someone like you to remind them that God is walking with them, just as he is with you.
3. Your community needs you.
I hope you have invested in your community to the point that people know you and you know the people. They need someone like you to introduce them to Jesus. They need you to lead your congregation to continue to pour God’s love into the community. The new pastor does not have the relationships you have already built in the community.
4. The grass is not greener elsewhere.
If you were to leave your church and go to another one, you will most likely encounter people with many of the same life issues and problems. People are the same everywhere.
5. There are people watching you.
If you are a leader, you are being watched by others. They are looking to you to see how you handle the frustrations of life. You can show them how to persevere through difficult times. You can show them how to find encouragement from others.
6. Your present pain may be future gain.
It is often in the painful moments of life that our faith in God deepens and our relationship with God matures. The hard times offer us forks in the road of life. Will you choose the path to a deeper relationship with God or the path that gives you an easier life?
7. A sabbatical may be the answer.
There are times when we do need a break, a time for rest and recovery. In the same way that our body needs rest after a hard day’s work, there are times we need to have a break from the hectic pace of life. Don’t quit, but ask for a sabbatical to rejuvenate for the next part of your journey with your church.
8. Take advantage of help that is available.
Too often leaders try to lead alone. Pastors, don’t be a Lone Ranger. If you are part of a denomination, there is likely support available. There may be other pastors who are willing to walk the journey with you. Maybe you could seek out some encouragers you trust. Find a counselor who can help you find tools to manage the emotions of your ministry.
9. Spend time with God.
Even if you can’t take a sabbatical, take some time every day to pour your heart out to God. Ask him for insight and wisdom to lead well. Read the Bible and hear from God. Read about other leaders in the Bible who struggled and kept on going. Spend time in the Psalms, and Laments, and ask God to help you join in with the writers who declare that they will trust in God no matter what.
Keep looking up, and keep on going,
P.S. Watch for next week’s article on reasons TO quit.
I meet monthly with other Transition Pastors. We are all serving churches by helping them say goodbye to a previous pastor, move to good health, and welcome a new pastor. In the last couple of months our conversations have included discussions about how few resumes are submitted for Lead Pastor positions at the churches we are serving. There seems to be a shortage of pastors. There are not enough pastors stepping into the role to balance those exiting that role.
Last week I said we need to encourage our young people to consider being a pastor or a missionary. When I was a young boy, I dreamed of becoming a doctor. There is nothing wrong with being a doctor. I have been really appreciative of a doctor’s work for me and my family many times. I dreamed of becoming a doctor. Our children are dreaming of what they want to be when they grow up. We need to encourage our children to dream of becoming pastors and servants of God in foreign contexts. We need to find good examples of pastors and missionaries to highlight for them.
Young people are not the only ones who could consider these roles. There is another group of individuals who are choosing to become a pastor later in life. I know of some who were farmers most of their life, or truckers, or welders, and then shifted to becoming a pastor.
Pastors, we have a special opportunity to encourage those in our congregation that seem to display the necessary qualities and character to choose pastoral ministry as a second career – or third, or whatever. People of God, ask God to show you if He wants to redirect you to become a pastor or missionary.
There are many godly people in our churches who work at their job all week and then serve at the church evenings and weekends. Some of them are clearly not just volunteering because someone is needed to fill a certain slot. Some of them are gifted teachers or mentors of others. They have a heart for God which is evident in the way they serve in the church and in how they operate their business or work at their jobs. Some of them have already graduated from Bible College or Seminary but never pursued the role of a pastor.
There is a group of faithful and godly people who graduated from Bible College, and maybe even Seminary, who have often not been the first choice in pastoral roles, but that has changed a lot in the last few years. Women are being hired more often and for roles beyond just Children’s Pastor or Women’s Pastor. While I, personally, may be hesitant to encourage a woman to pursue a Lead Pastor position, many churches now are open to hiring a woman for any pastoral role in the church. They are hiring based on the gifts of the person rather than on gender. So, let’s encourage our women to consider pastoral ministry as well, listening to God as to where and how he wants them to serve. Pastors, some women have not felt a freedom to pursue pastoral ministry and God is asking you to encourage them in that direction.
Some people have never considered being a pastor because they were not “good enough.” They had a certain image in their mind of what a pastor was like, and they didn’t match up to their ideal. If you look around, you will find that pastors come in all shapes and sizes. They come in all varieties of personalities. Some are great for serving in small churches and others are perfect for large churches. You don’t have to match up to an ideal. You just need to say “yes” if God is asking you to step into that role.
Some faithful servants of God felt God hadn’t specifically called them to the role of pastor, so they headed in a different direction. Just a question: “Did God call you to head in that direction?” If God did not specifically call you to be a pastor, did you use those same criteria to decide to be a welder or business owner? Many people chose to pursue a career because they thought they would do well in it, make good money, and they would feel fulfilled in that role. But maybe God never called you to that role. You just chose it. Maybe its time to specifically ask God if you should step into a role as pastor. Take time to prayerfully consider this. Talk to your pastor and other godly people around you and ask them what they think. And if all signs point to becoming a pastor, then pursue it with your whole heart!
Some have decided not to be a pastor because it is too hard of a job. Sometimes the pay will be way lower than what you are making right now. People will not appreciate what you are doing, and complain. Your family may suffer. You will be frustrated at how slow things move in the church compared to the business you were running. It seems like too much of a sacrifice to say yes to this role. Not to be too direct, but remember the sacrifice Jesus made for your salvation? He gave His all, His life, faced ridicule from people, and even separation from His Father as He died on the cross. If God is asking you to become a pastor, then He will give you the strength to persevere. I can give witness to that. I have had some very difficult moments in a few different churches, but God has been faithful through it all!
There are some of you who considered being a pastor, and maybe even served as a pastor for a short while, but you were frustrated with the institution of the church. You feel that it is not accomplishing what it should. You are probably right. But you may be just the right person to step into this role. If God is showing you where the church is lacking, can you trust that God will show you some answers in how to improve that? Sometimes it is a person new to the role that will see what is wrong and how to change it for the better. Your voice in the conversation may be exactly what is needed to raise the level of discussion on improving the church.
“Second Career Pastors” can have incredible ministries accomplishing great things for God and the expansion of His kingdom! Will you accept the challenge and become a pastor?
Keep looking up,
I never thought I would be a pastor. I was a Christian. I attended a local church. I loved serving at Camp Sagitawa, a summer Bible Camp for kids. I had a desire to serve God so I went to Bible School, thinking that it would be good to prepare myself to serve in ministry of some kind. My thought was that everyone needs to learn how to teach, so I took a Christian Education program. I thought I would become a full time Camp Director. And then God used people to speak into my life and encourage me.
In the summer between my first and second year at Peace River Bible Institute, a lady from my church believed in me enough to financially help with one semester of Bible School if I would spend the summer at camp.
While attending Peace River Bible Institute, Reuben Kvill, the president at the time, took a special interest in me. He encouraged me to do some preaching at churches in the area that needed speakers. So I did. He then encouraged me to do a summer pastoral internship. There was a church looking for an intern and he thought I would fit in quite well. Though I had taken hardly any preaching or pastoral courses, I decided to do it. It would give me opportunity to complete some of my Christian Education requirements as well. It was during my internship that God specifically called me to be a pastor. I realized I loved preaching and knew God wanted me to do this.
Many years later, my wife and I felt God was re-directing us, but we were not sure in what way. It was during this time that a couple, who had been our friends for years, spoke into our lives. They encouraged us to think about how we might help the larger church instead of serving just one church. Well that encouragement, and God’s clear leading, has brought me to the point that I am now serving as a Transition Pastor. I am concluding one assignment in a month, and starting at a second church two weeks later. God is using me to help churches move to health and be ready for their next pastor.
I say all of this to encourage you to also become a motivator of people toward the gospel ministry. Maybe you have seen this happen in your own life. Perhaps someone encouraged you in a certain direction and as you moved in that direction, you realized this was exactly where you were to be.
I believe those of us who are older need to take this role seriously – to be a motivator of others to ministry. You may not realize that there are less and less Bible College graduates looking to be a pastor. Many Bible Colleges are leaning toward preparing believers to do well in teaching or medicine and other various professions instead of preparing them to be pastors or missionaries. We still need pastors, and we need missionaries. We need good people in business and in all aspect of our world, but we continue to need people who will dedicate themselves to full time ministry in some way. There are many reasons why these numbers are declining, but maybe one reason is that no one is encouraging young people to pursue full time ministry positions.
So, who can you motivate towards ministry?
Parents, encourage your children to consider being a pastor or missionary and serving God in a full-time capacity. Make sure your children get to know their pastors. Help them to see that this is a good option for them to pursue. Instead of encouraging them to be lawyers or doctors because you want them to make good money, encourage them to consider Bible College and Seminary. Encourage them from early on to continually ask God what He desires of them.
Grandparents, you have a powerful impact on your grandchildren. Help your grandchildren to see that being a missionary or pastor is a great choice. You could gift them books about pastors and missionaries. You could tell them you want to encourage them in this direction. Maybe tell them you will help them financially if they consider going on a missions trip, or if they are considering Bible College.
Youth pastors, you have an incredible role helping to shape the futures of the teenagers in your program. Pour yourself into them and show them that they too can learn to do what you do. Take them to Bible Colleges. Bring in tour teams from Bible Colleges so they meet some students. Teach them to ask God what He wants them to do with their life. Many schools are moving students into certain tracks of education at earlier points than they used to. They are being trained to choose a direction in life when they are quite young. Youth pastors, speak into their lives at these points and be the encouragers and motivators that you can be.
Pastors and missionaries, we need to step up and take this seriously. We need to show children and young people that ministry as a pastor or international worker, though hard at times, is very rewarding! I know that there are a lot of stories showing where both pastors and missionaries have failed some of the very people they were hoping to help. That doesn’t mean you avoid that role. Just determine to prepare yourself better, depend on God to lead more closely, and do everything you can to understand the people whom you are hoping to serve so you can serve them well and in a way that will benefit them, not you. Get to know leaders in the role you are pursuing who are doing a good job. Learn from them.
We need to challenge young people to seriously consider a career as a pastor or full-time ministry of some kind. Invite interested students to do a summer internship with the church. We do this for Bible College students, but maybe we can do this for some of our older teenagers as well. Show them that they can enjoy doing ministry and pray that God will direct them to where he wants them.
We need to realize that we can have a large influence on our young people. Let’s do it.
Let’s be motivators of others to ministry opportunities!
Keep looking up,
I will be sharing a brief review of every book I read this year. Hope you enjoy and hope it encourages you to keep reading.
THE CHURCH REVITALIZATION CHECKLIST – by Sam Rainer
More and more churches are choosing to hire a Transition Pastor to help them as they say goodbye to one pastor and look to hire the next. If you are curious about how this transition process works, then you are at the right place. (This post builds on a previous post: Do We Need a Transition Pastor?)
The process begins with the transition pastor getting to know the congregation and the way the church functions. They complete various assessments and evaluations to get a clear picture of what is really going on in the church. This is a helpful step whether the church is healthy or unhealthy, and whether the pastor left on good terms or not. These assessments are done with the whole congregation as well as the leadership and various ministry leaders. Often there are interviews of staff and members of the congregation to get a clear understanding of how things are going and what areas may need to be addressed. It is important to take some time to look back to make sure there are no issues that have just been “swept under the rug”, but adequately faced and dealt with. Unforgiveness for past mistakes will make it difficult to move ahead in a meaningful way.
The assessments can help the pastor know what to preach on. He can address current issues facing the church from scripture.
The first issue to acknowledge and address is often grief. The assessments and interviews will determine the level of grief, as the church is often mourning the loss of the pastor and his family. Often the preacher will focus sermons on the “one another” passages in scripture. These can help build on or restore much needed unity in the church.
After taking some time to look at the past and then getting a clear picture of the present situation, the pastor can move the church to start looking ahead to establish a clear vision for the church. This may include understanding the demographics of the church as well as the community it serves. It will include having vision meetings with both the elders and the church as a whole. My belief is that the vision a church develops usually does not vary much from where they have been in the past. The value of this practice is not so much in coming up with something unique for the next part or the journey, but in being able to clearly articulate their vision together.
This process is bathed in prayer, and builds on the assessments and understanding of the community the church feels called to reach. The vision guides the church moving ahead. Often, when a church goes through the process of hiring a new pastor, they do not have a clear vision and so the newly hired pastor moves the church in the direction of his own vision. This is not a bad thing, except each new pastor may go in a different direction. If the church can clearly identify a vision before they hire their next pastor, then they can hire a pastor that fits that vision.
For pastors looking for a position in a church, it helps to know what the church’s vision is so he can tell if he will fit there or not. I have taken a position in a church only to learn two years later that my vision and theirs were very different, opposite even. It is helpful to both the church and the pastor to be clear on this before being hired. It will prevent some pain in the future.
The completed assessments and articulated vision help the church know exactly what kind of pastor they are looking for. The transition pastor can help guide them up to this point and help them through the search process as well. One valuable tool the transition pastor can help the church with is developing their Pastoral Profile. All the other assessments and processes the transition pastor leads the church through really culminate in the clarifying their vision and determining what kind of pastor is needed to help them accomplish that vision. Without all the work leading up to this point, a church may not have a clear idea who will best fit their church. Too often there is just a pendulum swing where one teaching pastor with no shepherding skills is replaced with a shepherd with no teaching skills. A Pastoral Profile is built on all the work produced during the transition process so the church knows how to truly evaluate a candidate against their real needs.
The Transition pastor concludes their time with that church before the next pastor is hired.
If a church is between pastors, hiring a transition pastor will be of great benefit. Those months, up to two years, of a transition pastor leading a church through a transition process will be extremely beneficial in planning well for the next step of the journey for the church.
Keep looking up,
I will be sharing a brief review of every book I read this year. Hope you enjoy and hope it encourages you to keep reading.
I WILL: Nine Traits Of The Outwardly Focused Christian – by Thom S. Rainer
Thom Rainer has written a great little book addressing many of the issues regarding a Christian and their relationship with their church. Each chapter addresses one aspect of a Christian and how to be outwardly focused as they are involved in their church. Chapters include topics like: I Will Serve, I Will Go, I Will Give Generously, and I Will Not Be A Church Dropout. This great little book with its short chapters would be great as curriculum for a new members class. He includes an “I Will” Commitment at the end of the book that new members could agree to.
As I look back I am incredibly grateful for the great God that we serve. Here are a few of my highlights of 2021:
1. We were able to buy a house after having to rent for a few years! God did some amazing miracles to work out the finances and get us a great house and a reasonable price.
2. I got a new job. I get to, once again, work in the areas I am passionate about and gifted in. God arranged for me to start as a Transition Pastor at Valleyview Alliance Church, Valleyview, Alberta. I am enjoying the process of preparing this great church family for their next pastor.
3. I started a new business. I was able to get some training on becoming a church consultant and read a lot on coaching. That, coupled with my 30 or so years of pastoral ministry, prepared me to begin Elevate Coaching & Consulting, with the purpose of “helping you achieve your God-given dreams”. I am primarily working with pastors and church leaders, as most of my experience has been in that field. And being a Transition Pastor fits into this as I help Valleyview Alliance Church work toward their God-given dreams.
And another great year with this amazing lady! Thanks Lynnette! I love you more every day!
I love to read, and did much of that this past year, focusing in on reading about the Holy Spirit and his filling and power in the last few months of 2021.
I was able to have a number of great conversations with pastors and church leaders, and had the opportunity to encourage them.
I hope you can look back on the past year and remember some great answers to prayer, and some remarkable wins and accomplishments. Hopefully your positives overwhelm your negatives, and that you can look back over the year with a grateful heart and thankfulness to God.
Happy New Year
Keep looking up!
*Please share some of your wins and positive experiences with me in the comment section.
I recently came across a book titled, 501 Must-Read Books. I have no idea how the author came up with their 501 books, but it made me think: what books would I include on a “must-read” list?
I was given a chance to consider this after moving into a new house recently. As I was setting up my office I was trying to down-size my library. There were some books that would obviously not make the list, as I had an easy time throwing them in my “donate-to-the-thrift-store” box. Others made me pause and think about whether it was a book that I might want to glance through again. Some easily made it onto my shelves because they had made an impact on my life and ministry and I did not want to part with them.
Here are twenty-eight books that have impacted me, in no specific order:
The Christian Atheist: Believing in God but Living as If He Doesn’t Exist, Craig Groeschel (2010)
The Red Sea Rules: 10 God-Given Strategies for Difficult Times, Robert J. Morgan (2014)
Sacred Pathways, by Gary Thomas (1996)
Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, by Jim Cymbala (1997)
A Hunger for God: Desiring God Through Fasting and Prayer, by John Piper (1997)
Visioneering: God’s blueprint for developing and maintaining personal vision, by Andy Stanley (1999)
Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests into Fully-Engaged Members of Your Church, by Nelson Searcy with Jennifer Dykes Henson (2007)
Leading On Empty, by Wayne Cordeiro (2009)
And: The Gathered and Scattered Church, by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay (2010)
The Empowerment Pivot: How God is Redefining Our View of Normal, by Douglas A. Balzer (2020)
Divine Appointments, by Bob Jacks and Matthew R. Jacks, with Pam Mellskog (2002)
Who Moved My Pulpit? by Thom S. Rainer (2016)
Deep & Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend, by Andy Stanley (2012)
No Little Places: The Untapped Potential of the Small-Town Church, by Ron Klassen and John Koessler (1996)
How to Thrive as a Small-Church Pastor, by Steve R. Bierly (1988)
The Monday Morning Church: Out of the Sanctuary and Into the Streets, by Jerry Cook (2006)
Communicating for Change, by Andy Stanley and Lane Jones (2006)
The Treasure Principle: Discovering the Secret of Joyful Giving, by Randy Alcorn (2001)
The Other Six Days: Vocation, Work, and Ministry in Biblical Perspective, by R, Paul Stevens (1999)
With: Reimagining the Way You Relate to God, by Skye Jethani (2011)
Red Moon Rising: How 24-7 Prayer is Awakening a Generation, by Pete Greig and Dave Roberts (2003)
Prayer Coach: For All Who Want to Get Off the Bench and Onto the Praying Field, by James L. Nicodem (2008)
Leadership Coaching: The Disciplines, Skills, and Heart of a Christian Coach, by Tony Stoltzfus (2005)
Transforming Church in Rural America: Breaking all the Rurals, by Shannon O’Dell (2010)
Don’t Invite Them to Church: Moving From a Come and See to a Go and Be Church, by Karen Wilk (2010)
Boondock Church: Small town – Massive Potential, Tony Warriner (2019)
Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, Chip & Dan Heath (2010)
Every Man’s Battle, Stephen Arterburn, Fred Stoeker, and Mike Yorkey (2000)
Those are 28 of my favorites, to name a few. Some of these have impacted me recently, others impacted me years ago, and I still remember being challenged as I read them.
If you were to create your own “must-read” books list, which books would you include?
Let me know in the comments – I’m always interested in recommencations!
Keep looking up,
Time is precious. Learn to use it purposefully. Own your day!
As a pastor, I sometimes felt that others had more control over my schedule than I did. When you work for someone else, there will always be requirements of you, but hopefully you can find a way to plan out your own day in your own way. You want to accomplish all that has to be done, and even some of what you would just like to get done.
Planning takes time, which may feel counterintuitive, but I assure you that if you plan, you will most likely get more things done that you want to get done. If you do not plan and schedule, then others will take your time. Or you will get caught up in scrolling through Facebook. Plan your day so that you decide what you do today, and when.
1. Acknowledge the Demands of Others
Hopefully you do not have too many of these, but sometimes there are certain requirements placed on you that you need to find time for in your day. If these expectations are placed on you, at least you can plan on when you will give some time to them.
At the same time, evaluate the demand. Is this really something you need to spend your time with, or is it just a suggestion? Days fills up too quickly to take on unnecessary demands of others.
2. Big Items
If you are a pastor, you know that there are certain activities required of you. As the preacher, you will need to give large portions of time to sermon prep. If you are teaching, that adds to your list of big items. My preference for sermon and teaching prep is to break the process into sections and do them in the morning when freshest. For example, on a typical workweek of Tuesday to Sunday, I do research on Tuesday, finalize an outline by Wednesday, compile the notes into an effective sermon on Thursday, and take Friday to make the final touches. Saturday, I practice, and Sunday I preach. A similar approach of breaking down the process to be completed over time can be done with teaching prep or other Big items.
As a pastor, I realize the work is never done. There is always something else to put on the schedule, so it is important to remember to schedule in your time off as well. Choose a regular day off. I always had Monday off. Choose the day that works for you and your family, and do something to relax and refresh yourself on that day. You might need to intentionally book something relaxing for the day, such as a walk with your spouse, or some golf with friends. Make sure to take a day free from the regular work responsibilities.
3. Personal Passions
This is the fun part. This is where you make sure to schedule in some time to do the things that God has laid on your heart that may not be directly tied to your job description, but are an important part of who you are. You are the one who chooses what to do with your day. Make sure you do what makes you excited. If it’s writing, then write. If it’s spending time with young leaders, then spend time with young leaders.
At one church I had a weekly breakfast with a couple of men where we talked through the next Sunday’s sermon. I loved these times, and learned to see the scripture through other’s eyes. It made my preaching more impactful – and I enjoyed doing it!
What is it that God has laid on your heart? What are some of your God-given dreams that will not take fruit unless you deliberately plan it into your life?
4. Determine what you would like to do but never have time for
If you have scheduled your day with the first three points in mind, you will realize your day is already quite full, and you may find yourself still unable to do everything you want to do. Is there a book you have wanted to read but never found the time? Is there a topic you would like to research but never get to? Is there a person you would like to have coffee with but it just never happens? Plan it in. Own your day. It is yours to live.
I always have a running list of things I want to do, or research, or work on. Then at certain times I would go through the list and make sure I scheduled it into my day or week. Any time you have a slower day or week, glance through this list and pull a few into your schedule. These are the things that no one else will ask you to do, but you think would benefit you. Plan them into your schedule.
And don’t forget to have some fun.
5. Delegate and Outsource
This might be the most important point. Do not be afraid to hand off certain responsibilities to others. Maybe there is someone in your church that can preach for you occasionally, especially if you take the time to coach them through it. At one church I had the privilege of helping teach one of the men how to preach. He already had a desire to teach, and did a great job. It will be extra work for a bit, but then he will be able to do it without your help and you will free up time.
In the small churches I served it was sometimes expected that I choose the songs for Sunday. Did I really need to choose the songs for Sunday? Do you really need to choose the songs for Sunday? Instead, maybe you could give someone else the theme and scripture for Sunday and ask them to choose the songs. If you have a song leader or team, give them the freedom to do that.
When you are used to doing certain things, it might seem difficult to hand them off to others who may not do it exactly as you would, but give them a chance. Coach them along and you will be surprised how much you can hand off to qualified volunteers.
Evaluate your role and what your primary responsibilities are and the additional tasks you have taken on. Maybe there is someone else that can do the bulletin. Hand it off. Ask an elder to do the devotional at the membership meeting. Find a tech-savvy teen to be your Facebook and website administrator. Train a few people to visit those in the hospital.
Find others to do what you don’t have to do – especially if you don’t enjoy doing that anyway!
Find a way to own your day! Plan it out so you can be your best you. Own your day!
Keep looking up