I just celebrated my 30th anniversary as the pastor of the church I helped start thirty years ago. I didn’t realize what a milestone that was until I read somewhere that most pastors only stay 3.5 years in the same church. According the those stats, I guess I should have been gone along time ago.
I often tell people that all it means to be in one church for thirty years is that all the problems you have are your fault. You can’t blame anyone else when you started the church. You are the only pastor they’ve ever had! Honestly, I’m very thankful I’ve been in a church where it was okay to try things even if they didn’t work. It’s been a blessing to be part of a church that took a risk on a twenty-eight year old kid and gave him the grace he needed to lead.
As I reflect back over these past three decades, some observations come to mind. Let me share them with you below.
Leading a church is a challenge! I once heard a pastor say that leading a church is the hardest leadership challenge in the world because it is so “volunteer intensive.” Since a church is filled with volunteers, it is a very different dynamic than leading a corporation that is filled with paid employees. No question, getting people to willingly sacrifice their time, energy, and effort for no earthly gain is a challenge. Personally, I think leading the church is even more of a challenge because we have a spiritual enemy doing everything he can to stop the Church from succeeding. Leading a church is a spiritual battle and the minute you take the reigns of a local church you declare war in the enemy.
Every church has problems! Pastors tend to think that the church down the street doesn’t have the same problems their church has. They are right! That church doesn’t have the same problems: it has different problems. Thirty years of ministry has taught me that every church has problems. Churches are made up of broken people, and broken people cause problems. Welcome to life! The role of a pastor is to help broken people come together to accomplish something that is only possible with God.
The church is worth it! In thirty years, I’ve seen plenty of people, pastors included, give up on their local church. It is easy to get discouraged and give up on an organization that is made up of broken people being attacked by a spiritual enemy. For some people, the fight just isn’t worth it. I think these people have forgotten what they are fighting for! If someone attacks my bride, you can bet I will go down swinging to protect her. The Bride of Christ should be no different. The Bride of Christ is worth the fight. The Church is worth our very best, and the best way to fight for her is on your knees.
There is no higher calling! Charles Spurgeon once said, “If God calls you to preach, don’t stop along the way to become a king.” What a powerful statement. There is no calling in the world greater than giving leadership to a local expression of the Body of Christ. To be part of leading a local expression of the Bride of Christ is the ultimate responsibility. Perhaps this is why the scriptures caution people in taking on this role. Being a pastor is not to be taken lightly. The minute you become a pastor, you are putting a target on your back. You’re also going to experience some of the greatest joys known to man!
The past thirty years haven’t been easy, but I would do it all again in a heartbeat. At Impact Discipleship Ministries, we want to help pastors lead well. Contact us at impactdisciples.com for information on resources and training for disciple making pastors.
If you are interested in becoming a part of our upcoming pastors’ equipping group in August 2019, find more information here.