For three years I stepped away from pastoring. It proved to be one of the best decisions I have ever made, not only for my personal life, but for my family experience. My wife and I learned to love one another again in a whole new way. I got to be a stay at home dad while developing church website as a means of income. Lot's of great things came out of our extended Sabbatical.
Once I was offered a position in our local church, I had a decision to make once more. Do I remain on a permanent or really extended Sabbatical, or do I move back into my sweet spot as a leader?
There was one determining factor: My wife. If she gave me the nod, I would take the plunge. She did, and here we are. We are both so happy.
There is a whole other blog for the info above, one I will share on another day, soon. However, getting back into ministry, particularly when you go headlong into a different church culture can prove to be less easy that one would hope.
For me, it was definitely not like ridding a bike. It was more like hopping on top of the swiftly moving Polar Express.
I remember my first staff meeting with all 42 employees of our multi-site church. I was in awe of the way culture, ministry expectations, and leadership strategies had morphed in only three years. Over my head? You betcha!
Of course, like any good seasoned preacher, I knew how to act my way through the newness of it all.
It has now been 9 months since I started my role as the Dickson Campus Pastor for Cross Point Community Church. Since December 9th of 2012 we have seen some remarkable things take place at our local campus. We have grown close to 200 people in 9 months. Our staff has increased in high-capacity volunteers for the areas that are not salaried at this point. And we are expanding by obtaining our own facility, as we are a mobile campus.
Overall, the Dickson Campus is experiencing tremendous growth, inside and out. Health is our goal, and we all know that healthy things grow.
There are many things to which I have had to adjust as it relates to my leadership style, old habits, and my time away from ministry. In light of this, I have complied a list of things that you might want to look for when coming back into full-time or part-time ministry.
Here are a few desirables that you should look for when stepping back into ministry.
Culture | The culture of your ministry can be summed up in one word: Personality. Your culture is the personality of your church. Once I came on staff at Cross Point, I had to adjust to a completely different culture than from when I stepped out of full-time ministry. Fortunately, I stepped into a healthy culture.
A healthy culture is a non-negotiable for me. I came out of politics, manipulation, and an egocentric world of celebrity and wannabe celebrity preachers. It was disgusting. Now to be clear, I have no problem with well know preachers as our pastor is very well know and influential. However, the way he conducts himself and fosters a church culture of humility, grace, and acceptance is unparalleled, by only a few.
If you are away from the ministry or taking an extended sabbatical, the wisest action you can take is to find a church that has a healthy, grace-filled church culture. If it feels sticky, it is. If it feels free and full of grace, marry it.
Sabbath | If your leader does not rest, neither will you. You must look for a church culture that honors some sort of sabbath day. Our day at Cross Point is Friday. It is a holy day. We disconnect from MacBooks, iPhones, and iPads so that we can connect with family and friends.
You are responsible for your own sabbath. No one else can make you shut off your phone - well, maybe your spouse. However, you also need to shut off your brain as it relates to ministry. Did you know that it is ok to not think about church?
Find a rest day and rest. Just do it. Your life depends on your ability to rest and be refueled. If your leader does not rest, he will not lead you anywhere but to burnout. Get some rest, you deserve it.
Health | Spiritual and physical health are nonnegotiable's. Simply put, a great leader will invest in those he is leading. What does this look like on a practical level? It could be annual or semi-annual retreats for the staff. Maybe it is personal mentoring time with your leader. Health could be your leader holding you acceptable for your sabbath day. One of the best gifts our church offers is counseling for all employees. We are encouraged to go to a counselor on a regular basis, and yes, the church covers the bill.
Many of our staff members work out together on a regular basis. I am not sure what health looks like for you, but you are not going to last if health is not a priority for you.
Look for these three key areas before you say yes to your next job. Life and peace are dependent upon these three.
What are some of the attributes you look for in church leadership? What are some of your expectations as it relates to church leadership and staff?