Transforming Pastoral Ministry, Pt. 3
The image of Pillars came to me years ago during a brisk afternoon run in the hot Florida sunshine.
It was during a particularly trying season of ministry back in the years of 2003 – 2004.
It was a season filled with strife, conflict, anger, hurt, despair, etc. The conflict I was experiencing then is, all too often, common within the walls of the church. The symptoms of the conflict and pain became evident because the Elder board asked our long-tenured senior pastor to resign.
While he did submit his resignation, the forced nature of the resignation was difficult for many in our community to resolve. The pastor himself struggled with the decision (imposition) for months.
At the time of his departure, I was the recently appointed Executive Pastor of the church. I was in the post for about six months when the conflict began to make its waves. About a year into my role was when the termination (forced resignation) came about.
“Carry, Mount, Knight,” No More!
Before my days as Executive Pastor, I served as the middle school pastor of the church. As you can imagine, the pain and distress of hundreds of people was palpable. I received many of the calls during this time.
My office was filled with people expressing deep emotion, often with anger, tears, contempt, elation, hope, fear, misunderstanding, etc. You name the emotion and reaction; I can assure you, I saw it.
Oh, how I longed for the days of youth ministry games such as “Carry, Mount, Knight,” and “Chubby-Bunny.” Instead, those were exhausting days of being an executive pastor during one of the most difficult seasons of ministry the church had faced in over a decade.
While I sensed that I would not remain in that post for much longer, I knew that God was using me to help folks walk through the turmoil during that particularly grueling season.
Disciplines and Delight
The Spiritual Disciplines of fasting, prayer, journaling, date-night, and exercising (yes, that’s a Spiritual Discipline) became a vital lifeline that helped me get out of bed every morning and put one foot in front of the other!
My run on this afternoon was much swifter simply because of all the pent-up energy and emotion I was carrying in my body. About halfway through the run, the Lord began to show me an image of His church as a Pillar within His community. At the same time, He revealed to me how far from being a Pillar the church I was serving was, or would ever become.
I mourned for the church I was serving, but was equally relieved and elated by the vision Christ was sharing and the release He was providing.
My swift run became a sprint back to my house as I sat down with my journal and wrote pages of thoughts/images from the Lord regarding the type of Church that could be a Pillar in our community.
The Initial Vision: Pillar and Foundation
He also drew me to a passage of Scripture that became a foundation verse for Pillar Community Church. The passage is I Timothy 3:15,
I write so you may know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God—which is the community of the living God, a pillar and foundation of truth.
Though we didn’t know it at the time, Melissa and I would spend the next six to ten years discovering the depth and width of this vision.
As you can see, it’s not too terribly hard to understand why I planted a church by the same name. Yet, the metaphor of Pillar just makes more sense when thinking about or reflecting on establishing a ministry that is guided by Transforming Pastoral Leadership.
Transforming Pastoral Leadership is congregationally transforming because it’s coming from a pastor who is also and always being transformed.
What Every Minister MUST Do
The “Pillars” of Transforming Pastoral Ministry/Leadership (those things we all must do no matter where we serve) are:
- Pastoral and Congregational Calling
- Congregational Care
- Pastoral/Congregational Leadership
- Discipleship and Spiritual Formation
They are, as I’ve noted, the what of pastoral ministry and leadership. If you want to be successful (effective) then you must always be about these five things in some way or another.
I ended my last post by encouraging ministers to aim higher than success and efficacy in ministry.
We should be aiming for nothing less than ongoing, sustainable, life-transformation and spiritual formation; both for ourselves and for the sake of others.
Not Just “What” We Do But “How” We Do it!
So, from here on out (or until I change my mind), I will be reflecting not only on the Pillars of pastoral ministry and leadership, but also on the Rhythms or Practices which give the capacity to be transforming.
The Rhythms and Practices are the how that lead us to the why of Transforming Pastoral Ministry and Leadership.
The Rhythms and Practice are:
Again, these are Rhythms and Practices I have been discovering – and continue to discover – as I lead a ministry focused on spiritual formation and soul-care.
Perhaps this image will help you envision what I am trying to communicate. As you reflect on the image, you’ll note the Five Pillars that form and shape any ministry. Again, they constitute the basics of what every ministry demands.
You’ll also see the Five Rhythms or Practices on the outside of the Pillars.
The Rhythms constitute a particular vision of how and why ministry is conducted. It’s my intention to spell these out in the coming days, weeks, months, even years, as I continue to serve the local church in a very specific context of which Spiritual Formation is the centerpiece.
Before we move forward with explanations, definitions, and illustrations, let’s go back in time.
Back to the late nineties and Oak Grove Church of God.
It was there that I began to identify some false and long-held assumptions about how and why one goes about ministering the Gospel.
Disrupting to Renew!
I’d Love to Hear From You!