Today’s topic is a question: what is the greatest challenge, the greatest need of churches, large and small right now? What is the thing that is bottle-necking, hindering, or in some way slowing down churches of every size from moving ahead?
Do you have a growing list of words you never want to hear again?
This past fall, I very quickly ran out of patience for the words “pivot” and “unprecedented” and “new normal.” These words have gotten old pretty quick partly from over-use, but also because when reflecting on life and history and the nature of the world, the fact is that things are always changing. There are events almost every year, and certainly every decade, that have completely changed everything.
This is just a short thought at the start of a new year. Probably by the time you see this it will at least be the middle of January of 2021, but I think the thought is relevant no matter when it is.
Here’s the thought: sometimes ministry, sometimes life is about a plan; making a plan, following the plan, working the plan. In fact, probably it’s true most of the time.
We see Jesus who, when you pay attention to what He was up to in the gospels, wasn’t just wandering aimlessly. He had a plan to develop a core group of disciples to prepare them for the reception of the Spirit and the birth of the Church. He, at different points, talks about how He was working His way towards Jerusalem. He had a plan. He was going to the cross and He was going to rise from the grave.
Today I want to highlight the fact that young pastors take more hits. I was commenting to somebody a while ago about a young pastor we both knew who was really quite gifted, capable and doing some amazing things in the church was just being dogged at every turn. Individuals inside the church seemed to be interfering and wanting to interfere with what was going on.
I made the comment to this person that very few people know how many hits and how intense the hits are that a lot of our young pastors take on. Young pastors take a lot more hits, and not just young as in age, but new pastors, and even people who are going into the ministry as a second career. They are often not prepared for the way people take shots at them.
As I record this I’m beginning nightmare mode. Nightmare mode is a concept I got off a fellow I listen to on YouTube from time to time, Alex Becker, who is a bit of a nut and is a software and internet marketer. He has some interesting things to say about productivity, dopamine addictions, social media and all kinds of stuff, so from time to time I’ll watch one of his YouTube videos. He talks about nightmare mode with the basic idea being stripping down your schedule and your activities to the bare minimum to focus in on a project.
For me I’m just coming to the end and have just concluded two different transitional roles, a transitional pastorate and a transitional coaching role. My wife and I find ourselves in this season every year and a half to two years, asking “What’s next?” So in this interim time, I’m spending some time in nightmare mode and the whole purpose is seeking direction for the next steps.