There are few vocations that can engender burnout like the pastorate. The demands on a pastor’s time, emotions and energy can be overwhelming. When I was a pastor, I often felt at least the symptoms of burnout.
I recently spoke with 17 pastors who had experienced burnout or who felt they came precariously close to burnout. The good news about these pastors is that they moved out of burnout, and now they are re-engaging in exciting and visionary ministries.
So I asked them the obvious question: What did you do to reverse the dark spiral of burnout? The question was open-ended, so they could respond with as many answers as they desired. When it was all said and done, I tabulated 12 different responses from the 17 pastors. Obviously, many of them gave similar answers.
Read any leadership book today and within the first few pages you’ll hear about the critical function of vision in your organization. To lead effectively without a shared vision is simply not possible.
But sharing the vision takes skill. And sewing vision into the hearts of those I lead is a skill I continue to refine.
Recently, our fpKIDS team worked together to craft 5-to-6 simple, vision-driven phrases. Why? It’s because our greatest opportunity to connect with volunteers and parents is on the weekend … amidst the hustle and bustle of church services.
The most important question any church planter can ask is “Why am I planting a church?” I have had some conversations with some great guys lately who I think are really struggling with that question.
All of us struggle with why we are in ministry on Monday morning, but we need to evaluate our motivation on a bigger scale. Let’s look at what I think are some lousy reasons to plant a church and then share a great reason I recently heard.
First, the lousy reasons:
“I want to reinvent church.” This one comes in a lot of flavors, but it always comes down to the bottom line of, "I have a better way to do church." More hymns, no hymns, pews, no pews, more art, more coffee, more beer, less structure, less formality. We’re going to be radically sold out. We’re not going to cater to Christians. We’re going to go deep. We’re going to go wide. We’re going to be a church for people who absolutely abhor the awful church that I’m currently drawing my paycheck from.
I believe the most overlooked key to growing a church is this: We must love unbelievers the way Jesus did. Without His passion for the lost, we will be unwilling to make the sacrifices necessary to reach them.
Jesus loved lost people. He loved spending time with them. He went to their parties. From the Gospels, it is obvious that Jesus enjoyed being with seekers far more than being with religious leaders. He was called the “friend of sinners” (Luke 7:34). How many people would call your church that?
Jesus loved being with people and they felt it. Even little children wanted to be around Jesus, which speaks volumes about what kind of person He was and what kind of pastor He’d be. Children instinctively seem to gravitate toward loving, accepting people.
Any church that doesn’t change in response to the change in culture, community or context will eventually cease to exist. Any church that wants to stay around and keep its doors open will make constant and subtle changes along the way.
How should that change take place?
1. In response to a new “God vision.” God cares about those perishing in your community far more that you and your church do. So God is all-in for the changes necessary to see as many as possible come to Him. He will give a fresh vision to accomplish that to the heart of a humble and passionate leader.