Friday, November 1, 2013

How the Role of Senior Pastor Changes Over Time

The longer I am at PCC the more I feel like a dad, not just a teacher.  In I Corinthians 4, the apostle Paul speaks of the fact that we have a lot of teachers but not many fathers in the Lord.  I genuinely care about the real people in our congregation, not just the numbers, because they are faces with names and stories.

Senior pastors who have been at the same church for any length of time can think back through all the stages the church has been through, and how their role has had to shift during those various stages.

For me, this time travel takes me back through sixteen years with the PCC congregation – a time span in which I….

Planted PCC with nothing more than faith and a vision.  We had no financial backing, no people, no support, no nothing.

Led the way to break through growth barriers as an aggressive visionary.  My zeal and energy level were off-the-chart.

Created a master plan and strategy, and developed the structure to make it happen.  This was about rallying the troops – those who bought into the vision – around the idea of what God could do right now through us.

Led this church to purchase 25 acres of land for a future campus, then through a three-year pledge campaign to raise funds, and finally through a successful building program. 

Survived the collapse of our building during Hurricane Dennis.

Pressed my way through our 10 Year Hiccup.  This occurred shortly after we moved into our new building.  We had just relocated and were experiencing significant changes when some core people left PCC.  This happens to every church.

Weathered staff turnover, leadership changes, and the migratory flow patterns of church members.  I wish church-hopping was not a reality, but it is.  I’m over my naivet√©.  

Pushed through a downturn.  Churches have seasons; spring, summer, fall, winter.  There are times when everything is alive and growing.  There are other times when you experience drought, leanness, and the long dark nights of winter.  It’s easy to think something is wrong when, in fact, nothing is.  You just wait it out and allow the Lord to do His thing.  Those lean seasons are times of growth beneath the surface, in the root system.  I wish more people understood this, but they don’t.  Often they will leave… while the most faithful remain.

Pushed through a season of personal burnout.  All my years of hard-charging eventually caught up with me.  I hit a wall and experienced a major case of burnout.  I’ve written about it extensively on this blog.  Even now, I have to protect myself diligently so as not to have a relapse.

Started thinking about the next generation who will take the leadership baton.  My wife and I are empty nesters right now.  I’m thinking about the next chapter in my personal life, as well as PCC.  Right now a large part of my ministry is being devoted to training the next generation of leaders.  I think a lot about succession planning.

Have accepted the current season we are in and our optimum size.  I’m glad to say that many of our church members have stayed in this church over the years – through every season of hardship and fruitfulness – which demonstrates a level of maturity that pleases me immensely.  It affirms that my work as not been in vain.  To these people, I am more than a teacher.

I have matured too.  Settled down quite a bit.  No longer am I overly concerned about the Three B’s – buildings, budgets, and bodies.  I am more interested in church health and getting back to basics.

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