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Pastoral Transitions (When Asked to Leave)
By: Dr. Fred Childs
Making a change in pastoral ministry is challenging for any pastor and his family, even when they have chosen the time to make that transition. However, a staff pastor and family who are released from their present ministry and must make a transition to a new place of ministry face a different situation. Thus the question, “How should a minister respond, act, and live if he is asked to leave his pastoral ministry?”
Ministers have been released from staff ministry positions for various reasons: decreased church income, downsizing of pastoral staff, the phasing out of a particular ministry position or consolidating church ministries. Regardless of the reason(s) for ministry release, this type of transition can be traumatic to the pastor and his family. Because of the emotional, financial, spiritual, and family issues, this topic must be addressed to help ministers and their families who have been asked to transition from their church ministry. Having been through this type of transition myself as a staff pastor in the past due to pastoral change and staff downsizing, I share some insights that will help edify and support the minister and his family who are in transition.
The ministry family leaving a church may experience emotional stress, financial strain, grief, and a sense of frustration. The exiting staff pastor may question the effectiveness, value, usefulness, credibility, future, and potential of his ministry. Income may be an issue, especially if the staff pastor was the major wage earner in the family. There will also be the question of health insurance. Because health costs can be expensive, health insurance is a necessity. If a transitioning staff member lives in a church parsonage he may wonder, How long can we live here? These are just a few of the concerns that a transitioning staff pastor will be forced to address. What follows are a few suggestions that will help the transitioning pastor and family.
1. Affirm your personhood as a Christian.
God loves you. You, your ministry, and family are valuable to Him. He knew this change would take place before you were asked to make your transition. He has confidence that, with His help, you will make it and your future will still be bright. He knows this is a traumatic change that affects your life, finances, ministry, self-perceptions, spouse, and children.
2. Continue growing in your personal faith walk with God.
You will need to grow spiritually through this situation. Don’t become stuck on, Why is this happening to me? Instead ask,How can I grow through this situation and see glory brought to God?
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"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." (John 6:47-51)
At the beginning of this chapter in John we find Jesus feeding a multitude of people. This multitude of people had followed Jesus because they saw all of the miracles that He had been doing. He had been healing the sick everywhere he went. After a while, this group of people were getting hungry. Jesus asks Philip where they could buy bread, although Jesus already had a plan about what He was going to do. While they were talking, Peter's brother, Andrew, mentioned that there was a young boy who had brought his lunch of five loaves of bread and two small fish. Jesus told the disciples to sit the men down. When they sat them down there were about five thousand men. Jesus takes the loaves of bread, gives thanks and distributes it out to the disciples to give to the men. Afterwards, when all were full, they gathered up the leftovers and filled up twelve baskets. Jesus leaves from this place and crosses over to Capernaum. The people finally realize that Jesus and the disciples have left. They get in their ships and go to Capernaum and find Him there. Jesus turns and says to the multitude:
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled." (John 6:26)
Jesus was telling this multitude that they were seeking Him for the wrong reasons and ultimately, for the wrong bread. He then tells them that He is the bread of Life. And when you eat of that Bread you will never hunger again.[ read more...]
Here are five symptoms that indicate you need a church administrator to help with the load:
[ read more...]
1. More than 25% of your time is spent on church administration. Pastors often find themselves attending to administrative needs that are beyond the scope of a secretary’s authority. This may include tasks such as directing the volunteers who clean the church, reviewing the accounts payable and managing the building maintenance.
2. Your administrative tasks are increasing – with no relief on the horizon. A growing church will generate an ever-increasing amount of administrative tasks. Although the financial strength of the church is a key factor in determining the right time to hire an administrator, the problem of administrative overload will have to be faced and resolved sooner or later.
3. You can’t seem to find enough time for prayer and sermon preparation. Too many hours spent on administration can result in a starving flock because your times with the Lord and your personal study of the Scriptures have been neglected.
Despise not the day of small things.
How do you build a church?
First you build a man. – Thou are Peter and upon this rock will I build my church. If Peter did not mature, the church would not grow.
· God has chosen to build his church upon people.
· He has chosen to use your life to build His church in the village you are from.
· If you do not grow, your church will not grow.
· This is why it’s important for you to study God’s Word.
· If you do not pray your church will not pray.
· If you do not have a genuine love for God, then your church will not have a genuine love for God.
· If you do not have compassion on the lost, your church will not have compassion on the lost.
· Your church will become a reflection of you.
Don’t be so quick to blame your people if they are not bringing someone to church with them.
· Don’t be so hard on them if they are not reaching out to their neighbors.
· Realize that a church most often, does what they see their pastor do.
· If you want your church to grow, be a soul winner yourself.
· If you want your church to reach out to others, be someone who reaches out to others.
· By your example, teach them to reach others.
· By your example teach them to win the lost.
Then you begin laying a foundation.
· You invest in some people to stand beside you.
· This time of building is not glorious.
· This time of laying a foundation is not one that gets the attention from everyone around you.
· Other Pastors are not going to stand up and take notice when you are building the Church’s foundation.
· But understand a building can be no larger than the foundation,
· And you cannot build upon something that is not there.
You will not have a strong stable church that is growing if you do not have a strong stable foundation to support it.
· So you begin to invest yourself in some good people whose love for God us unquestionable.
· Some people who will stand beside you, no matter what comes against the church.
· Some people who know your vision for the church and are willing to allow their lives to be built upon.
· You build that foundation. You build that foundation strong.[ read more...]
Here’s a line you can use while waiting in line at the local gas station, but never at the local bank. Not too long ago while standing in line waiting to cash my check at my bank, a gentleman at the window next to me began to grow impatient with the banks teller. A bit angrily he asked her “What’s the holdup?” Needless to say, all the banks employees immediately looked alarmed and worried. They did not hear the entire question the man asked, all they heard was the word “holdup”. You can imagine why the bank’s employees became alarmed when the word holdup was used in this setting. Especially when used with a bit of anger.
What’s the holdup? What’s stopping your church from having revival? What’s keeping your ministry from fulfilling its vision? What obstacles stand in your way?
We oftentimes say we're waiting on God in certain situations. We say things like, “It will happen in God’s timing.” or “We’re just waiting on God.” In reality however, God is most often waiting on us. He is not a God who is late or tardy. He’s not so busy that He barely has enough time to get everything done that He needs to do in the course of a day. His calendar is not so full that He has to cancel appointments at the last minute or push your needs off to another day in order to meet somebody else’s needs.
He is all sufficient. He’s always on time. His resources never run out. He created time, so time is not a problem for Him. He created the heavens and the earth, so resources are never an issue for Him. His ways are above our ways. His understanding goes beyond human reason.
God is not the source of delay. It’s important for us to understand that at no point since His death on the cross has God delayed any good thing. He is not the reason your church is not having revival today. He is not the reason visitors do not attend your church. It is not His desire that any in your city, town, hamlet, village, neighborhood, or family should perish. It is His complete desire that they would come to the knowledge of full Truth. He wants them to join your church. His complete desire is that every man woman boy and girl in your city would be in church worshiping Him and hearing His Word this Sunday morning.
If God’s perfect will were performed this Sunday morning, there is no way possible that your church could contain the kind of growth that God would give it. The exponential explosion of growth that your church would experience if God’s will were accomplished, would blow the minds of every evangelist, visionary, and revivalist.[ read more...]
"Not on your own, but with God's help you can!"
37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.
If you asked anybody, "What amazes you most about what Jesus did while on this Earth?" You would get responses like, "He raised the dead," or "He died for my sins" or "He healed the blind and the lame." No doubt that each of these are amazing works of God, Calvary can never be denied as the greatest work that Jesus did. I would have responded the same way. Calvary aside, one of the most amazing things to me that Jesus did while on this Earth was transforming the twelve into disciples, and ultimately into the leaders of the first century church. That was an amazing accomplishment.
I know firsthand as a leader and a pastor how difficult it is to change people. I understand how much time it takes to cause habits and thinking to change. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that the twelve disciples were total idiots, but let's be honest, they didn't have a whole lot going for them. They were definitely less than ordinary. They didn't have a lot of natural talent. Their intellectual abilities were lacking. Each one of them was prone to failure, bad attitudes and mistakes, no one more than the leader of the group, Peter. Almost every one of them had issues with their faith. They all had bouts with doubt. On one occasion, Jesus said of them;
25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
Jesus called them fools, yet He also saw them for what they could be, instead of what they were. These twelve "fools," or at least eleven of them, went on to turn their world upside down. They became the propagators of the Gospel after Jesus ascended. They built the church from the ground up. Their ministry continues to influence us to this day. So the answer is 'yes', a loser can be turned into a leader. A fool can become a person of wisdom. In fact, more often than not, God typically calls these kind of men and women to become the leaders in the church[ read more...]
“A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.” Prov 18:19
Bob stopped me a while back to thank me. A trustee and board member in his church, he explained that he and his wife were greatly offended by a situation and people in the church. He told how one Sunday without knowing their situation, I encouraged them. I told them that “they were very important to the work of God there” and a “wonderful example to me”. I didn’t know they had already decided this was their last service in that church. He told me that had it not been for my encouraging them that day, they never would have gone back.
I wonder how many Bob’s leave the church without anybody noticing.
It is often said, “If we could just win back those who have already left, that would be a great revival. My question is, “how did we ever let them get away in the first place”?
In my years of pastoring and ministry, I’ve found that people usually leave the church because they were never truly assimilated into the family of God to begin with. Once a person is established into the church and have formed nurturing relationships, it’s less likely they would become offended and leave.
We think that we have to “get them into the choir right away” or “find them a position or job in the church” to keep new converts. This may help that person feel more attached, but it will never assimilate them into the church.
Why do people exit the church? Many times, a person leaves because they were never provided the proper relationships within the church.[ read more...]
What are we talking about? The loss of ministry momentum. When the church starts and a pastor promotes a new ministry in the church, everyone gets excited. That excitement is the fuel that this ministry is going to need to get started and for success to quickly begin to happen. The labor and energy that goes into promoting new ministries within the church is great. The planning aspect alone often takes many, many hours of several people working together to cause this new ministry to be possible. However, once it starts, if constant encouragement and direction is not given, it could very possibly begin to lose its momentum within just a very short amount of time.
Simply placing somebody over a ministry is not enough. You have to work with that person, train them, encourage them, and let them know exactly what it is you hope to see accomplished in this new ministry. This mentoring of the new leader is absolutely necessary if you want this new ministry to succeed. However, oftentimes our own schedules don't allow us to properly train and equip the people that we placed over various ministries within the church. When this happens, the new ministry begins to lose momentum. Do your leaders consistently lose the encouragement that they need? Do they have questions that are not being answered? Do they lack the training and direction that they need, or are they too are simply losing interest?[ read more...]
1. Don’t live beyond your income.
2. Don’t be a stingy person.
3. Don’t preach your doubts.
4. Don’t preach so much against things but preach principles.
5. Don’t be tempted on any occasion not to preach your best.
6. Don’t be looking for a larger field or another call.
7. Don’t be a pessimist.
8. Don’t deal in off-color stories.
9. Don’t lose your temper in public.
10. Don’t overlook the Bible when looking for preaching texts.[ read more...]
HE GOT UP AND OUT, NOW WE CAN GET THROUGH
I want to tell everyone; “Because He lives, I am able to overcome whatever.” I am so grateful for the Cross where my sins were nailed and wrath was endured by Jesus, but without the Resurrection all would be for nothing. His rising tells all loud and clear: He was right, His teachings are correct, His sacrifice was enough, divine justice has been satisfied, the blessing of the Holy Ghost would be coming as planned, and anybody who will believe will receive.
Oh, just to think how Jesus defeated the devil in three places: on Earth, on the cross, and through the tomb. I just can't even describe just how I feel. We who have been redeemed and born again know the empty tomb is far more than a story: He lives and lives within us…. The total history that has been accomplished by that empty tomb should inspire each of us to become better Praisers, Givers, and Livers. To think that God, Himself, designed the entire episode so that we could be set free from our sins and become fit vessels for His Spirit to indwell. The raising of Jesus from the dead has revealed the great power of God Himself, for in doing this, the defeat of sin and Satan is now totally obvious. Jesus is alive, making this thing called Christianity a living demonstration of glory and power.[ read more...]