Many pastors, church planters, and ministry leaders experienced extreme discouragement during the pandemic, and continue to even now as the world adjusts to “what comes after”. The church you now lead is not the one you envisioned when you started and probably not even the one you lead 2 years ago.
Maybe you are just plain tired. Let’s face it, helping your church along through a crisis is hard work. For some, you have new challenges of managing people and things that need to get done and volunteers are not in abundance. If you love to Produce, you probably do not like to manage the rest. Most people who are Producers don't.
I suspect that you are probably in the weekly grind of sermon and services prep—the relentless return of the Sabbath—and there’s little margin for thinking and visioning. You grab ideas here and there from podcasts or articles in Church Planter Magazine, but you don’t have time for thinking and praying. So, what can you do? Where do you go from here?
First, rest in a Gospel Reality: God really is in control of ALL things.
After the resurrection (John 21), Jesus had told his 11 guys to leave Jerusalem and go to Galilee. They went back to their fishing business at the Sea of Galilee. It was a hard and unsuccessful night of fishing and, as morning burst through, Jesus met them. He blessed them and allowed them to catch more fish in a few short minutes than they could haul. They were tired and hungry. So, what did Jesus do? He invited them to breakfast. They rested and ate. Jesus is not in a hurry to get on with the mission. They were not fishing for men, as He had called them. They were trying to earn some cash and they knew how to fish. But Jesus invited them to rest and eat. He wasn't in a hurry.
The Father is in control and will accomplish what He wills when He wills. Rest in prayer to God. Waiting prayer. Resting prayer. Believing God will work prayer. For more on prayer, I would encourage you to learn more from Prayer Current at https://www.prayercurrent.com.
Second, ask God to lead you to a Gospel-Centered Coach.
Our friend and colleague, Omar Ortiz, became a Gospel Coach because of what he experienced being coached. He said, “I first began using a Gospel Coach during a very difficult season of ministry in church renewal. My Coach helped me to have a renewed sense of purpose and direction in my ministry. More than that, however, my Coach helped me to see my own need to repent of sinful patterns in my life. He helped me to move beyond simply paying lip service to applying the gospel to my life and actually led me there. Gospel Coaching has been one of the most profound experiences I have had in ministry.”
Your health and the health and thriveability of your family is most important. No magic wands can be waved to make that happen. A Gospel Coach can help a lot. If you don’t have one, don’t delay. No matter how great a leader you’ve been so far, a Gospel Coach can help with the health and sustainability you need. I’m not talking about a life coach or a buddy that’s “been there and done that.” You need a Coach that can bring the gospel to bear on all aspects of your life—Relational, Personal, Missional and Spiritual—that can take it to the heart.
Third, have a Health Assessment done your church.
Get the information you and your leaders need to make wise and healthy choices. It is probably time to simplify your ministries and go back to basics. Prayer cells, mentoring younger leaders, and basic discipleship along with community service/mercy. Having a church health assessment done can help you assess the future of your ministry.
Here is some good news, according to research from Barna/Gloo, “74% of U.S. adults believe the church offers hope to people.” Despite all you hear from the culture/media about the irrelevancy of your church, ¾ of both the unchurched and churched in the USA still believe it is a place of hope.
One more interesting piece of data showed that “80% of millennials agree that experiencing God in a service, alongside others, in person, is very important to them.” So, people who are in mid-30’s to turning 40 (they have kids) are open to the vibrant worship of God and for a community and connection for them and their family that is highly relational. This might be a demographic that you need to focus on in your context.
God’s calling is God’s enabling. As I’ve written elsewhere, you are perfectly righteous in Jesus so you have nothing to prove. You are eternally loved so you have nothing to fear. You are completely forgiven so you have nothing to hide. Ask for a Gospel Coach today.
Remember, you don’t have to work in ministry alone. Never before have there been more resources for training as there are now. If you want to have a Gospel-centered church, it’s important to have a gospel-centered coach. Click here to learn more about the Vital Grace Initiative today!