It has been around 365 days since I moved into Fountain Hills AZ, and began my new ministry venture at the Church called Christ’s Church of Fountain Hills.
I am grateful for the large numbers of people that have been watching, praying, and cheering for the Renner family from a distance.
I want to compare my experience to previous ones. I have been in some kind of professional ministry for the past 27 years. The different titles I have been given through those 27 years within the local church have been; Preaching Pastor, Youth Pastor, Associate Pastor, Singles Pastor, First Impressions Pastor, Evangelism Pastor, Church Planter, Merging pastor, Senior Minister, Lead Minister, President of Mission Org, Bible Teacher, and a few titles that I have heard whispered behind closed doors about me. LOL!
All is good. I write this blog to the professional pastor out there and I have one purpose and point in this post. For those who are not a professional pastor, I hope you will read and be challenged to encourage your pastor, who may not always show it in ways you think you need, but he/she loves you and wants to protect you, and prepare you to meet Jesus someday, like nobody else in your life.
Out of all the titles I’ve held over the past 27 years, the current title I hold has been the most challenging and difficult thing I’ve done. The title is best described in its simplest form as Lead Pastor. But that title is not the best description of my title. The real title, in the eyes of those my position has affected the most, is …”Our Next Pastor.”
It is a legitimate title, because I have been called it too many times to count in just the last year. Its not a bad title and in all honesty it really is the most fitting title for the situation. I’m good with the title.
After 26 years of very successful ministry endeavors, this year 27 has had me feeling like I didn’t have a clue in what I was doing. In the past 27 years, I have been more of a church planter type lead pastor than anything else. So when I transitioned into the role of “our next pastor” to replace a retiring founding pastor who had tenure for 33 years, I really had no idea what I was getting into. And I got into it thick! From what I’ve been told or have read about other pastors who have transitioned into the role of “our next pastor”… I’ve had it pretty good. In fact this isn’t my first rodeo with trying to be the “our next pastor.” I tried it once in a church in FL and literally quit 7 weeks into it. It just wouldn’t be right to share the gory details of that hardship my family encountered…but… all that to say, becoming “our next pastor” is not for the faint of heart. It is not fun, but it is good. It literally is the hardest thing I’ve done in professional ministry. So…what’s my main point here? Keep reading…
Many USA resources are stating that around 10,000 baby boomers, people born between 1946-1964, are retiring everyday right here in the good ol USA… and will continue to do so until 2036. Google it, its crazily true. Calculate that and it equals more than 80 million people retiring in the next 19 years.
I believe it is fair for me to guess, then, that there will be a multitude of founding pastors in that mix of retirees. Which means there will be multitudes of “our next pastors” stepping into their shoes, picking up their torches, or taking their batons. For those who are about to step into the shoes of those retiring founding pastors, please heed my words of warning.
There is nothing more leadership intensively difficult, nothing more hazardous to orchestrate, nothing more uncertain in its success, that will leave you feeling isolated and abandoned, than to fill the shoes of a retiring-founding pastor, and be the one who introduces a new era of influence. You, serving as ‘Our Next Pastor’ will have enemies in all those who love the old form, and at best, lukewarm support in all those who will benefit by the new. So, for God’s sake, for the Church’s sake, for the lost’s sake, for a troubled world’s sake, look forward, move forward, dig deep, for the very reason this situation is happening, is because the current status quo isn’t working anymore. Lead on, O’ leader, lead on! You only need the solid rock on which you stand, to be your inspiration…Jesus…to remind you that He can do immeasurably more than you dare to ask or hope for! So persist, press on, endure! Let Jesus be your only audience you desire to please, and He alone must be your faith, your hope, and your love. You are the, ‘our next Pastor’! You got this!
If I can personally visit with you over the phone, email, or at a table, with a hot cup of coffee or Dr. Pepper with a wedge of lime squeezed in it, please just ask. I’ve been taking extremely thorough notes through this adventure. I am seeing success. More time will tell the truth in how I’m doing. It has become vividly clear to me why churches struggle to produce fruit beyond the 100, 200, & 400 growth barriers. I can help you! I know I will pump you up!! 🙂 And even more, I know I would also learn from you. I’d be grateful to swap stories with you, compare scars, celebrate our victories, cry through the heart wrenching experiences our families face as we lead people to experience God, and most of all, I simply want to encourage you, and have you walk away with shining eyes!
This is really, really good work we do. Of course it is hard. It reminds us how alive we really are.