It has been right at 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 have officially been the Lead Pastor of CCFH now for the past 20 sermons that I have preached at 9:00 and 10:45 am each Sunday.
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, 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 for one purpose and point to be understood.
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. My 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. I’m doing good. I am getting older and that means that I have been seasoned, experienced, and I feel like I’m more ready for new challenges than I have ever been. Don’t misunderstand me, I have so much still to learn, and I expect to remain a learner until my final heart beat. I will have never fully arrived in the wisdom department in this life, but I aim to increase it every day.
The last year has had me feeling like I didn’t have a clue in 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. All that to say, becoming “our next pastor” is not for the faint of heart. It literally is the hardest thing I’ve done in professional ministry. This fact brings up a reality that is engulfed the USA.
Many resources are stating that 10,000 baby boomers, people born between 1946-1964, are retiring everyday… right now, 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 and inspiration you are about to encounter.
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. This successor has 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! Allow that very thing to be your faith, your hope, and your love. You are the our next Pastor!
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’d be grateful to swap stories with you, compare scars, celebrate our victories and simply encourage one another.
This is really, really good work we do. Of course it is hard. It reminds us all how alive we really are.