I had been in the church only a few weeks when the message was as clear as a highway billboard with flashing spotlights: "We don't trust you." Not everyone felt that way, but I knew I was on trial. The next three years were among the most agonizing I'd spent in twenty-two years of pastoral work. The attendance dropped each year, and with it, a loss of receipts. Two years in a row yielded red ink reports. There was little visible response to the messages-our traditional barometer. I became aware that one leader wanted to find another pastor.
For the first time in my ministry, I chose not to run from the problem. But, the inner agony I experienced was tremendous. Doubts of all sorts flooded my mind. Did God call me to this church or did I act . impulsively? Was I called to pastoral work at all? Maybe I ought to throw in the towel and take up another field of work. Everything I tried to do seemed fruitless. Evangelism programs brought literally no results. For every new person gained it seemed ...1