Author: tylerramsbey

I am a Christian, Husband, Pastor, and Scholar. I desire to know Jesus and to make Him known.

I’m Resigning (Kind of).

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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
  • Ushers
  • Greeters
  • 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
  • Marketing
  • 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.

 

 

 

Diagnosing Burnout (Part 1)

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I am currently reading through the book “Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cures” by Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones. Martin Lloyd-Jones lived from 1899 to 1981. He started his career as a medical doctor but ended up spending over thirty years in pastoral ministry. All of his writing – but this book in particular – do an excellent job of diagnosing conditions of the soul with the care and expertise of a medical doctor.

Chapter fourteen addresses spiritual depression that is the result of being “weary in well doing.” The text that grounds this chapter is Galatians 6:9 – “And let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” In modern terminology, Martin Lloyd-Jones is addressing the topic of burnout – especially in regards to one’s faith and Christian life. I thought his observations were so excellent I wanted to distill the major aspects of the chapter on my blog – both for my own reminder and hopefully to help you as the reader.

First, Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones begins by providing three “negatives” – three things NOT to do when weary and spiritually exhausted:

1. Do Not Give Up!
“There is a great temptation that comes at this point. You say: ‘I am weary and tired, the thing is too much for me.’ And there is nothing to say at this point but this negative – do not listen. You always have to start with these ‘don’ts’ on the very lowest level; and that is the lowest level. You must say to yourself: ‘Whatever happens I am going on’. You do not give in or give way.

2. Do Not Resign Yourself/Lose Hope!
“While there are people who hand in their resignations and say, ‘I am quitting’, that is not so with the majority. The danger of the majority at this point is just to resign themselves to it and to lose heart and to lose hope. They will go on, but they go on in this hopeless, dragging condition.” 

3. Do Not Self-Medicate!
“Many a man has ended a drunkard who started by taking a little alcohol to help him to carry on; and people take to drugs and various other things in precisely the same way… I have seen people in the church dealing with this general spiritual weariness in that very way. They work up some kind of excitement or they adopt new methods… Can you not think of certain churches that are always putting out some fresh announcements or finding some new attraction? Such churches are obviously living on artificial stimulants and it’s all being done with this idea in mind.”


In the next blog post, we will look at the 5 activities the doctor prescribes to bring about healing and rest from this type of spiritual exhaustion. As always, if there is something I can be praying about for you, or if you simply need to talk, please reach out. You can leave a comment or send me an e-mail at tyler@renovationchurchsd.com 

 

Evidence of True Discipleship (Message)

As many of you know, I have the opportunity to teach verse-by-verse through the Bible ever Sunday at Renovation Church. These messages are recorded and then posted to our Facebook page and church website for others to benefit from. I decided it may be helpful to also post them on my personal blog – My prayer is that they help you understand the depth of God’s love for you a more.

(If you are reading this in your e-mail, you will need to go to the actual page to see the video of the message).


 

Acts 4:13-22 (CSB)
13 When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and recognized that they had been with Jesus. 14 And since they saw the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say in opposition. 15 After they ordered them to leave the Sanhedrin, they conferred among themselves, 16 saying, “What should we do with these men? For an obvious sign has been done through them, clear to everyone living in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But so that this does not spread any further among the people, let’s threaten them against speaking to anyone in this name again.” 18 So they called for them and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.

19 Peter and John answered them, “Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide; 20 for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

21 After threatening them further, they released them. They found no way to punish them because the people were all giving glory to God over what had been done. 22 For this sign of healing had been performed on a man over forty years old.

Dear Church – Don’t Give People What They Want

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In our American culture we are obsessed with size and outward success. This has infiltrated the church and encouraged pastors to use any means necessary to pursue numerical growth for the church. In many ways this is a good thing – more people getting connected to the body of Christ is always positive. Unfortunately, the means that we have used for many years for this growth has caused more people to attend but less people to be disciples. I would even argue that the American way of doing church has given people a false hope of salvation for they have trusted in a false Jesus.

Before you leave an angry comment, let me explain.

This past Sunday I had the honor of teaching through the miraculous healing of a man who had been unable to walk since he was born – over four decades. His livelihood consisted of being carried to the temple each day so that he could beg for money from those coming to worship. On a seemingly ordinary day, he encounters two leaders in the early church – Peter and John.

These men have likely seen this beggar numerous times – the text says he was at the temple daily asking for alms. According to Acts 3:3, when he saw Peter and John about to enter the temple, he asked for money. This is how Peter responds to this man’s request, “I don’t have silver or gold, but what I do have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk!”

Peter offered the man what he needed – not what he wanted.

If we could sit down with this beggar in the first century and ask him what his greatest need on that day was, he would have said it was money. He needed money to purchase food, he needed money to pay rent, and he needed money to simply survive.

What if Peter and John simply gave this man what he wanted? What if they did a fundraiser or a GoFundMe page to raise money for the poor beggar outside of the temple? It would have been a great marketing move; displaying to the Jewish world the generosity of Jesus’ followers. It would have made the poor beggar happy – his monetary needs would have been met and he could have taken a vacation from begging outside of the temple.

But here’s the thing.

If Peter and John offered this man what he wanted, they would have missed out on the wonder-working power of God.

Might I suggest to you that our churches settle far too often for giving people what they want instead of what they need. Here’s what I mean – Most contemporary and outward-focused churches (like Renovation Church) utilize the pulpit to declare self-help messages on parenting skills, marriage tips, financial advice, as well as many other “felt need” topics. The messages generally take the pastor’s ideas or creativity as the starting point and then sprinkle in some Scripture to Christianize it – usually with a vague altar call at the end of the message.

These topics are important but they are secondary to our mission as the Church. The greatest gift we can offer the world is not corny motivational talks but Gospel-centered and expository (i.e. verse-by-verse) preaching of the Bible. If we want to see people truly transformed by the radical message of the Gospel, it begins by introducing people to the richness found in the Scriptures. Life transformation isn’t the result of a 3-week motivational talk on finances and tithing; it’s the result of the Holy Spirit working new birth through the clear exposition and proclamation of God’s Word.

On theologian said it this way, “I don’t go to church to have my needs met, I go to church to figure out what my needs are.”

Pastors, leaders, and church members – quit giving the culture what they want and instead offer them what they need. In the name of Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and through the faithful exposition of God’s Word – give them Jesus in all of his beauty, glory, and majesty.

Downward Mobility (Original Song)

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Hey everyone! I decided to start out 2020 by writing, recording, and mastering an original (and free) song about Jesus’ teaching on greatness. The song is below. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. If you enjoy it, do me a favor and share it on social media!

(If you are reading this in your e-mail, you may need to go to the actual page to hear the song).


Download Free


Instrumental: Sean Divine
Lyrics: Tyler Ramsbey
Vocals: Tyler Ramsbey
Mixing/Mastering: Tyler Ramsbey

[Chorus]
If you want to go up, you need to go down
Downward mobility is the way to the crown
If you want to be great, you need to be a slave
It’s the weakest in the Kingdom who are destined to reign.

If you want to go up, you need to go down
Downward mobility is the way to the crown
If you want to be great, you need to be a slave
It’s the weakest in the Kingdom who are destined to reign.

[Verse 1]
You see judgment, it begins with the church
Quit pointing fingers at the world as if your sin didn’t hurt

The reputation of the King who has given you worth
So live in my words and repent of the works

The way we idolize success is an evident curse
Because #blessed is for the poor & the hurt

Not the rich Americans who just want more of the perks
Of the radical consumerism that ruins the church

It’s like we’re drinking poison we join in our own death
And we even have the nerve to complain when it’s all a mess

I have a guess – God’s not impressed
With the popular press or the lobby that’s flexed

Or the money that’s spent to keep you running ahead
Just to have a good brand when you’re spirituallly dead

You can have the greatest band while appearing to be fed
But we need humble leaders who are fearing what He said

[Chorus]
If you want to go up, you need to go down
Downward mobility is the way to the crown
If you want to be great, you need to be a slave
It’s the weakest in the Kingdom who are destined to reign.

If you want to go up, you need to go down
Downward mobility is the way to the crown
If you want to be great, you need to be a slave
It’s the weakest in the Kingdom who are destined to reign.

[Verse 2]
Who is greatest? That’s the question that they asked
So he called a child and made him step into their path

The greatest in the Kingdom are the ones who rep the fact
That they are insignificant the ones that we’re sending back

It’s the weak whom he seeks do you believe that?
I know we all nod our heads even in the back

But our actions betray what we really think
You see the ladder of success will make you sink

But we lift it all up like it’s the greatest thing
But my Savior sings, about a servant life

Yeah you heard the Light but do you really worship right
I know that we’ve been purchased by the King, but are we blind?

Cuz we try to strive, but it’s kind of like
Holding dynamite that’s been lit by the sin inside

So we begin to die, lifting up the pride
So let’s return to the only King & lift Him high

[Chorus]
If you want to go up, you need to go down
Downward mobility is the way to the crown
If you want to be great, you need to be a slave
It’s the weakest in the Kingdom who are destined to reign.

If you want to go up, you need to go down
Downward mobility is the way to the crown
If you want to be great, you need to be a slave
It’s the weakest in the Kingdom who are destined to reign.

The God of the Ordinary

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What comes to mind when you think of the person of God?

For some, the only image that comes to mind is an angry deity determined to cast his enemies into a lake of fire. For others, God is a vague idea that is defined by a human definition of love. For others, especially Christians, God brings forth images and descriptions of supernatural power. God is transcendent, holy, and glorious; the Creator and Sustainer of all creation by the power of His Word.

As I prepare for my Christmas Eve message at Renovation Church, the Holy Spirit highlighted for me a small (but significant) part of the Christmas story – Jesus was born as a baby.

Okay.

I know you don’t find that amazing and it’s a detail you already know, but hang with me for a minute.

Many Jews in the first century were eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Jewish Savior. Before Jesus (and after him) many arose from within the ranks of the Jewish people and proclaimed themselves to be the long-awaited Messiah. The Jewish people were under the control and reign of the marvelous Roman Empire. The Jews were forced to pay extravagant taxes, honor the emperor as the son of the gods, and submit their worship of the God of Israel to the laws of Rome.

But they had hope.

They believed the ancient Scriptures promised that God would send a divine warrior-king to set His people free and set up a theocracy on earth; elevating the Jewish people to a place of power, honor, and glory allowing them to crush those who oppress them. For many ancient rabbis, the belief was that the Messiah would simply show up on the scene, fully grown. The reason for this belief is that the Jewish people in the first century, like us, viewed God as supernatural, powerful, and glorious beyond words (which is all true).

Babies don’t really fit the picture.

But God, through his own sovereign choice, chose to enter into the mess of humanity as a helpless baby born in a manger. The scene was so incredibly ordinary that even the shepherds would have missed the significance of it if the birth wasn’t accompanied by a chorus of angels proclaiming the praises of this unique yet ordinary baby boy.

So… why does all of this matter?

Many of us do not hear the voice of God or behold His glory because we are looking in the wrong places. The majority of God’s people in the first century rejected Jesus because He didn’t fit their expectations. They expected a Savior who would conquer by killing his enemies; instead, they got a Savior who conquered by allowing his enemies to kill him. They expected a warrior-king who would simply “appear” fully grown and ready for war; instead, they received a helpless baby born to two teenage parents in the small town of Bethlehem.

One of my favorite stories from the Old Testament is about the prophet Elijah (whom we named our son after). After an incredible victory over the false prophets of his day, Elijah was beyond depleted and exhausted. He was on the run and fearful of losing his life. In the midst of his spiritual depression, God instructs Elijah to stand on a mountain and wait for the glory of God to be revealed. First, an incredible wind storm shattered parts of the mountain – a terrifying sight for this prophet – but the text says God was not in the wind. After the wind, Elijah felt the earth below his feet begin to move and heave with a great violence; the foundations of the earth trembled from a mighty earth quake – but God was not in the earthquake. Suddenly, out of seemingly thin air, a terrifying and consuming fire appeared before Elijah. Surely, Elijah must have thought, God is in the fire because that’s how he appeared to Moses… but God was not in the fire.

Wind… Earthquakes… Fire… All miraculous, terrifying, and powerful signs of God’s power but God was not found in any of them. Finally, Elijah heard a still small voice – an almost silent whisper; and He discovered God.

As you prepare for Christmas my challenge for you is to wake up to the ordinary whispers of the extraordinary God in your life. Reject the commercialized busyness, slow down, and seek to hear God’s voice through Scripture, nature, family, and silence.

Renovation Church – 2019 Giving Letter!

churchlogoBelow is a copy of the letter that will go out to everyone who has given financially to the ministry of Renovation Church in 2019. If you fit that description, you will receive a physical copy of this letter with your giving statement in early January!


Dear Renovation Church Family,

I want to take a minute to thank you for your incredible generosity. In our third year as a church, we have been able to give nearly $14,000 to outreach – both locally and internationally. For context, that is roughly three months of expenses for our church. This is only possible through the generous giving of those from inside and outside of our church who believe in and support the mission God has given us.

One of the passages I have been meditating on recently is 1 Corinthians 1:26-29. In this passage, Paul exhorts the church in the famous city of Corinth to boast in Christ alone. Specifically, he reminds them of their calling and purpose by writing:

“Brothers and sisters, consider your calling: Not many were wise from a human perspective, not many powerful, not many of noble birth. Instead, God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong. God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world—what is viewed as nothing—to bring to nothing what is viewed as something, so that no one may boast in his presence.”

In the eyes of many people, Renovation Church is foolish, weak, insignificant, despised, and viewed as nothing.

  • We are a small church in the very small town of Garretson
  • We have no church building and instead rent from the local school.
  • We have a small budget; our entire budget is less than many pastor’s total pay packages.
  • We have no paid staff outside of my role as the Lead Pastor.

Our temptation as people (and a church) is to flee from being viewed as foolish, weak, or insignificant – this is the same temptation that was facing the church in Corinth. Yet God has used our small church in our seemingly insignificant town to preach the Gospel, practice radical generosity, and make disciples who make disciples. God has used our “foolish” church to bring healing to couples in broken marriages; our “weak” church to bring freedom to those deep in addiction; and our “insignificant” church to bring grace to those enslaved by legalism and false religion.

I share all of this not because Renovation Church is awesome; instead, it is all a testimony to the awesome God whom we serve and worship. It has never been about Renovation Church or my role as the pastor – it has always been about Jesus.

As we begin a new year of ministry, if there’s anything I can personally help you with in your walk with Jesus, please reach out. You can send me an e-mail at tyler@renovationchurchsd.com or text/call me at 605-359-9486. I’d love to meet with you this year to help you study the Bible and grow in your relationship with Jesus.

Thank you!

Tyler Ramsbey