A great paradox regarding pastoral ministry is seen in the way pastors claim that they realize they aren't "Superman," while simultaneously trying to walk on water. Early in my ministry, a well-respected African-American pastor once told me "son, Jesus already died for your people, and there is no need for you to do it too!" It was good advice! Yet the statistics clearly reveal that pastors are still dying, at least professionally if not physically, for churches. 1500 pastors leave the ministry each and every month due either to moral failure or burnout, and in spite of ample warnings, the hemmoraging hasn't slowed down. Perhaps this is why Matt Chandler's latest post, and recent sermon, is so timely.
Chandler assumed the pastorate of First Baptist Church, Highland Village, Texas, in December 2002. Almost four years later, the church has a new name (The Village Church), a totally new structure, and has grown from 160 to over 3000 in 6 weekly services, while almost killing its new pastor.
At 32, Chandler already seems to have the wisdom of a guy with decades of pastoral experience. Of course, hearing his testimony leaves you thinking that the last four years have advanced his life by at least that many decades! While in Seattle this past May, I had the privilege of being blessed by his testimony, and reminded of my own limitations.
Evidently, the casualty rate in ministry has fostered an issue dear to Chandler's heart, and his recent post at Resurgence illustrates this concern. He states:
Why does this keep happening? Why do we keep losing sharp, young, godly men to bitterness and despair? Am I in danger? I found myself praying and thinking for the next few hours. I always want to go back to the life of Jesus when it comes to questions of surviving ministry.
This post, and his recent message "Gravity: The Weight of Pastoring and the Knowledge of Christ," will be required reading and listening for my Pastoral Theology students at Capital Seminary this fall. If you are a parishioner seeking to understand the heart of a pastor, the blog and online message will give you a brutally-honest inside look. If you are a pastor, your heart will reasonate with Matt Chandler, and if you heed his words, they just might save your ministry!
Read the blog at:
Hear the sermon at:
Visit The Village online at: