Before you panic, I am NOT resigning from my role as the Lead Pastor of Renovation Church. Now that I have hopefully alleviated your fear (or disappointed you) – read on!
I have been in pastoral ministry for 8 years; for 6 of these years I have been pastoring the same church here in Garretson (first as the Campus Pastor and now as the Lead Pastor). I am currently 26 years old and suffer from chronic acid reflux (multiple times a day), regular insomnia, and elevated blood pressure (and didn’t take any vacation time for all of 2019). For the past three years I have been addressing these issues on the physical side of things by exercising regularly and, just recently, watching my diet in order to lose weight for competitive boxing.
This past Sunday evening – during one of my bouts with insomnia – the Holy Spirit led me to the realization that one of the biggest flaws with my leadership is that of over-functioning. An article by Charles Stone does an excellent job by defining this as:
“The pastor who overfunctions is usually an overachiever who takes ownership and responsibility for the emotional well-being of others, often trying to make up for the perceived deficiency in somebody else’s functioning.”
While explaining the characteristics of this type of pastor, Stone goes onto explain:
“Very hard worker, seldom asks for help, tries too much to help, assumes increasing responsibility for others, tells others what they need to feel/think/do, does for others what they should do for themselves, often demands agreement from others, can foster learned helplessness in others, often highly approval oriented.”
If you know me personally and have seen my leadership, you are likely nodding your head to both of these descriptions. Let me make it clear – I am the only one to blame for the position I am currently in. This is a failure of leadership – I am not a victim.
Because of my failure of leadership in this particular area, Renovation Church has become too dependent on me. I justified this to myself in the beginning by assuming that as a church planter, I needed to wear many different hats. I realized that this is a bad justification because we are three years into this journey and instead of delegating some of these “hats” I have simply put more on! Below are a few of my weekly tasks/areas I lead on behalf of Renovation Church.
1. Core Areas: These are the areas I am passionate about and believe God has truly called me to do –
- Preaching/Teaching: My goal is to provide the people of Renovation Church with expository (verse-by-verse) sermons with depth and meat to them. These are generally 40 minute messages that take a significant amount of thinking, researching, and planning. I generally spend anywhere from 15 – 20 hours/week on sermon prep.
- Discipleship: My other passion is 1-on-1 discipleship. I am usually meeting with 5 – 8 people each week for the purpose of discipleship. Each of these meetings last a little over an hour. I love helping people understand how relevant the Bible is for their lives.
- Counseling: I see counseling as a form of discipleship. When people are going through a rough area in their life, I often have the honor of listening to them, praying with them, and doing my best to point them to Jesus. I genuinely enjoy the counseling aspect of ministry – it is what informs much of my preaching.
- Relationships: The other core aspect of my ministry is building relationships with those outside of the church – especially non-Christians. One of the primary ways I do this is by hosting a weekly podcast for Garretson and a few other surrounding towns. These podcast episodes are 20 minutes long but the conversations usually last over an hour as I get an opportunity to enter into people’s lives and hear their stories.
Below are some of the areas I justified to myself by saying I would only lead them for a season. As you can see, they have steadily been increasing:
2. Scheduling: I schedule all of the volunteers for the following areas:
- Children’s Church (including running all the background checks for volunteers)
- Nursery (including running all the background checks for volunteers)
- Coffee Bar
- Sound Team
- Set-Up Team
- Meals (Our monthly breakfasts and any special events such as lunch after outdoor worship services – I schedule and order all the supplies).
3. Administration: I serve as the administrator for many of the background details of the church:
- Social Media
- Web Design
- Updating the website
- Recording & Posting Sermons
- Responding to all phone calls/requests (my personal cell is the church phone)
- Finances (i.e. paying bills – I don’t count/deposit the offering)
- Meetings (I schedule member meetings, create the agendas, record the minutes, and then e-mail the information out to all the members)
- Adding people to Planning Center (the software we use for scheduling volunteers).
- And every other administrative/business task that goes with running a church on the legal/business side of things.
(And, as a pastor, I never clock out – I am always on call).
There’s more I could add but this post is already too long (and you probably get the point). Once again, the reason I am doing all of these things is because I have failed in my leadership, refused to delegate, and exercised an unhealthy control over ministry. In my strive for excellence, I have sinfully hoarded the leadership of Renovation Church to myself – and I am paying the consequences for doing so. Here’s what I have been recognizing with the help of counseling and a few key mentors in my life – the way I have been doing ministry is not sustainable. If I do not make some serious changes to my philosophy of ministry (i.e. learn to trust God more) I will literally sacrifice myself to the false god of ministry success.
Thankfully, God has not allowed my leadership to succeed. It seems that the harder I try to control ministry and the greater “excellence” I provide on a Sunday morning, the less people who have been attending our church. This is a great thing because God has used it to expose idolatry in my heart.
So… what’s the solution?
Honestly, I don’t know for sure. I do know on the basis of the New Testament that a church is healthiest when there are multiple people leading and providing input for the ministry. I also know that my “core” areas that I shared above will be much more effective when I can focus on them entirely and learn to delegate the other areas to those who are gifted and called to lead in them.
So – here’s my resignation – I am resigning from doing all of the scheduling and administration I am currently doing beginning April of 2020. The church belongs to God – not me – and if God does not raise up leaders to take over some of those areas, they will simply get dropped. I am trusting that whatever areas He does not raise up a leader for, it is because that area of ministry is unnecessary in this season. I fully realize this will cause people to (probably) leave our church but I also trust God is in control of all things – including this.
Here are some suggests on how you can help:
If you live in the Garretson area but currently attend a significantly larger church (such as one in Sioux Falls) can I prayerfully ask you to consider joining our team for a season and providing healthy leadership? Please only do this after speaking with and receiving the blessing from your pastor.
If you are part of Renovation Church already, prayerfully consider taking a leadership role in our church. Please do not do this out of a sense of guilt or as an emotional response to this post – instead, seek God’s will and if he so leads you to do so, I am looking for people to step into a leadership role for a 1-year term (so there’s a light at the end of the tunnel if you hate it).
Finally, if you are currently leading an area in our church – thank you so much for your sacrifice and dedication. I do a terrible job at appreciating you for everything you do; I am praying that God raises up more people like you to help carry the weight of the ministry.