Saturday, January 28, 2006

Why becoming a solo pastor doesn't suit me as well as it used to

Since my last two posts, I've been doing some thinking about what it was about becoming a solo pastor that I believed to be such a good fit, and whether that still seems like a good fit.

I think the consensus is that it's not an ideal fit for me at this point. Whatever I do must meet certain "needs" that I have, so to speak-- it must fulfill the sense of calling I have, based on the strengths, giftedness, and experiences that God has given me. Here's how that plays out:
  • I love to teach-- I
  • need
  • to teach.
Well, this is certainly something that a local church can offer without end. Any church will rely heavily on their pastor for teaching; I would probably find a solo pastorate to be more opportunities to teach than I might prefer, at times.

But it's fair to say that, if this is one of the big needs that I have, there are other types of organizations that would fulfill this need.

  • I work best when I'm developing leaders.
Again, a local church could offer this in abundance. Then again, I suspect that I would often find them to be reluctant leaders. Certainly, some (if not many) would be leaders I would have to seek out and convince to become leaders.

Over time, this becomes draining. I've found that eventually most of my leadership development energy is consumed by recruiting alone; I don't end up having much to give to their actual development. And I wonder if there isn't something to be said for working with an organization where leaders come to me wanting to be developed. Or at least where the development happens by default.

  • I have a strong interest in the long-term health and vitality of the Church.
This applies to church ministry, obviously-- and especially given the many churches that are in need of special attention in this area. It's very likely that I would find this sense of purpose a major focus in a solo pastorate, especially for the first five to seven years or so.

But when I've brought a church through revitalization and into a (relatively) healthy state, what then? It's possible-- even probable-- that there would be opportunities to work with other churches in my presbytery in this area. And this may, in fact, satisfy my interest.

But I'm a big-picture guy. Not exclusively big-picture, but the big picture matters to me. A lot. So it's pretty likely that my interest in Church vitality may not be satisfied by the locality of a particular congregation. I think I need to be working with something bigger for now.
  • I love leading people and organizations toward developing and implementing vision.
Again, the local church would offer this initially. But the development of a new vision-- especially anything remotely cutting-edge-- would take a while to bring a group into. And the implementation of that vision would be a slow and patient process. It needs to be.

I'd like to think, "I'm a patient guy-- I could do that..." But I'm afraid I'd be fooling myself. I need to work with a church or organization that is ready to develop a fresh and, perhaps, quite different vision right away. And that is good to go with implementing it in short order. In fact, it may be the case that working with only one organization is not enough for me at this point.

None of this is to say that pastoral ministry in a local church isn't for me ever. I could easily see transitioning into a solo pastorate in a few years.

But I don't think I'm ready for it-- not so much because of my training or experience, but because of the needs that my calling places on me.

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