There’s something very freeing about letting go of the need to perform.
Even when our goal is something noble.
Recently, I had the chance to observe this in a very tangible, personal way.
I was speaking at a conference to a bunch of pastors – mostly from small churches – about letting go of our performance-based church growth model and finding health again.
After several sessions, a pastor came to me with a big smile on his face and tears in his eyes.
“Everything has changed for me in the last two days,” he told me.
“I’ve been thinking about leaving my church because it won’t grow. No matter what I do, no matter how healthy we get, it stays around the same size.
“As I was driving to this conference I decided that when I went back home I was going to resign. But now I realize something I never saw before.
“I love this church and I want to stay. The congregation wants me to stay. God called me here. And that’s enough.”
I smiled and choked back tears myself.
In fact, I’m smiling and choking back tears as I recall it now.
A Tragedy Averted – This Time
Think about the tragedy that was averted there.
A good pastor nearly left a good church.
And for what? Not because of problems, infighting, moral failing or even being called elsewhere. It was simply a lack of numbers.
That pastor is not alone. Not by a long shot. Our relentless drive for numerical increase has pushed a lot of good pastors to the same place.
Too much of what we call church growth isn’t motivating us to reach for something better, it’s discouraging us to the edge of quitting.
Even when there’s absolutely no good reason to quit.
Yes, it’s important to always strive for better. Never to settle for business-as-usual. So it’s great when church growth ideas give us helpful tools.
But it’s not great when the expectations to get bigger become so overwhelming that they debilitate good pastors instead of motivating them.
We need to be careful, in our noble and necessary attempt to see Christ’s kingdom expand, not to put numerical increase ahead of the health and well-being of good churches and their leaders.
Nothing To Prove
We can never forget the truth of that short conversation.
If you are where God called you to be, that should be enough to keep you there.
You don’t have to prove your worth.
You don’t have to justify your calling.
You don’t have to see constant numerical increase.
You don’t have to be someone you’re not.
You have value. To God and his church.
Right here, right now. No matter what the numbers do or don’t look like.
The Joy Of Staying
Go where you’re called.
Love the people you pastor.
Reach out to others with Jesus’ love.
And stay until you’re moved.
They say the joy is in the journey.
Sometimes, the joy is in staying where you’ve been sent.
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