Monday, February 20, 2012

How Do You Know When It's Time to Go

How Do You Know When It’s Time to Go?
This is the season when many pastors begin to wonder if it’s time to move, to consider a calling to another ministry situation. How do we know when it’s time?

To begin, let me say this is a process of discernment involving a lot of prayer and consultation with trusted friends, colleagues, denomination personnel, and of course, our spouses. There is no formula, but there may be signs which God may use to point the way.

– church leadership makes it plain – this speaks for itself
– disagreement or conflict with senior leadership over fundamental doctrine, direction, vision, or values. Some things are small and can be overlooked, but others are not and cannot
– suggestions from others, perhaps denominational leaders, that you would be better suited for other ministry
– feeling it is time to “test your wings” in a solo / senior position
– increasing difficulty to recruit volunteers – there are lots of reasons this may be so. One reason may be that people lost confidence.
– feeling that we have done all we can do – the ministry has outgrown us or needs someone new for the next phase
– lack of vision for the future – nothing new to bring direction and energy
– vision for a different kind of ministry
– change in senior pastors – some systems require associates to step down but others do not. I have always said I would a give it a year to see if I could work comfortably with a new pastor. Sometimes, however, it is clear that things will not work well.
– finances – lots of associates start in small churches. But add a spouse and children, and it may be necessary to move in order to feed the family.
– practical or family matters – location, health issues, children’s, spouse’s, or parents’ needs may be pressing concerns which lead us to ask God for a different ministry

Something to remember – never resign on a Monday or in February. I got this from a friend years ago. Translation, don’t confuse tiredness or the dark discouraging days of winter as the leading of the Spirit

Finally, seek advice about when to bring your pastor into this discernment process. Because of situations or personalities, it is not always possible or wise to include the pastor in discussions about whether to seek another situation.

To include other factors or ask questions, comment below.

Feb 20, 2012 Rev. Troy Dennis (BA, MDiv., MA, Arrow Leadership) is Pastor of Family Ministries at Highfield Baptist Church in Moncton NB Canada. Ordained in 1995, he has been through the process of changing ministries several times.

Monday, February 6, 2012

AP Ministry is Real Ministry

Associate Ministry is Real Ministry
"So, you’re going to be a real minister now?" Someone asked me this not long after I announced my resignation to become the solo pastor of another church.

Likewise, people questioned that I was returning to associate ministry after pastoring two churches. Some still wonder why I am not pastoring on my own somewhere. They think I got burned out or perhaps lack confidence. Associate ministry is an enigma to some people.

For me it is about God’s call. Associate ministry is not a lesser calling. In fact, my current associate role is my toughest ever – I have more responsibilty here than many solo pastors in our denomination.

Associate pastoral ministry is real ministry. We know this already. But sometimes we doubt ourselves when we hear well_meaning people say things which suggest that associate ministry is not as important or significant as solo or senior ministry.

So, what do we do when we encounter the attitude that associate ministry is not "real?"

We can’t be defensive. Ever.

We need to do our ministry well so that people know we are competent.

We can’t develop a bad attitude about this. No whining.

We must be faithful to the call. This is about where God has called us. It probably won’t always be this way, but we always need to be faithful to the call God has for us, right now.

In addition, let me try to encourage us a little.

Associate ministry requires a high level of leadership ability. The larger the church, the larger the ministry groups, the broader the job description, the tighter the resources, the higher the profile in the community or denomination – the higher the level of leadership required. I know a number of associates in two-pastors churches who provide some kind of leadership or advice to more than one board, 10 or more different ministries, over 200 volunteer positions – all without paid admin help, I might add.

Associate ministry requires a broad range of abilities. It is not unusual in the run of a week to conduct youth group, lead children, teach a Bible class, formulate policy on the Board, visit "Mrs. Johnson" for tea, counsel teens and their parents, carry out strategic planning with the senior pastor, and fundraise for an international mission trip.

Associate ministry is real ministry. Not everyone can be a good and effective associate pastor. Let’s take pride in what we do, let’s do it well, and most of all, let’s do it for the glory of God.

Feb. 6, 2012. Rev. Troy Dennis (BA, MDiv., MA, Arrow Leadership) is Pastor of Family Ministries at Highfield Baptist Church in Moncton NB Canada. Ordained in 1995, he figures he has prepared about 2000 sermons and studies, conducted about 100 funerals, planned hundreds of worship services, in addiiton to serving in the community and on denominational boards. He is also a writer and musician.