5. I was isolated.
I preferred being the authoritative teacher, preacher and head theologian rather than the guy who needed friends.
While I still believe the pastoral office is one that carries with it some dignity and high standards of integrity, I also realize now that at the end of the day–especially as a discouraged pastor — I’m still a broken human being who needs friends.
6. The churches had a history of throwing away pastors.
Both had experienced high turnover rates with pastors.
I either didn’t know that or didn’t care, but rather than welcoming a pastor and loving him and his family in a biblical sense, there was instead an initial burst of flattery followed by rejection when the honeymoon was over.
7. I wanted to reach lost people.
Therefore, I didn’t give as much attention to internal matters or congregational pastoral care as was expected. I disrespected the unwritten rules of small church culture and decorum.
8. The churches only thought they wanted to reach lost people.
Every church thinks they want to see people saved, but few will embrace the pain of change for the win of actually seeing it happen.
Reaching the lost and fulfilling the Great Commission requires an unselfish sacrifice of personal preferences, a genuinely loving embrace of broken and messy people, and a renewed focus on influencing the surrounding culture with eternal truth. Any existing church that will reach the lost will absolutely endure pain in the process.
Having observed the landscape of evangelical Christianity in America first-hand as well as through relationships with thousands of pastors, I’m convinced I didn’t find the only two churches in America that displayed these tendencies. I think it’s apparent that there are thousands of churches that resemble these observations. That’s why we’re going to see so many churches close in the next decade and so many pastors hurt in the crossfire.
My hope rests on the fact that Jesus Christ loves the church and gave Himself for her on the cross. He started the church, is the Chief Builder and Shepherd of the church, and will see to the church’s survival and success until He comes again. But until that day comes, we see eras of painful pruning.
Whether you’re a pastor or a member in the pew (or theater seat), focus on Jesus, on eternity, on lost people and on empowering leaders rather than on your personal preferences. And may God’s Holy Spirit revive us again!