What do you do when your pastoring passion is shrinking?
It happens to us all, so we better have some answers.
Unfortunately, too many of our answers involve walking away from ministry, from our current churches, and from even our families, friends, and ourself.
A loss of passion can happen for many, many reasons. I’d like for us to consider one of the most common and equally hidden reasons of them all. I stumbled upon this truth a year or two ago. I was in a funk. I was partially questioning my role, my responsibilities, and even ministry as a profession. I was considering reentering the marketplace. As I began contemplating how I arrived in the funk, I realized over time our church (and everything around it) had grown somewhat substantially. Initially, this realization didn’t connect any dots. But, it did begin to launch a discovery process.
To go back in time a bit… In the beginning years, we would have staff meeting in my car on the way to lunch. We were a much smaller church with way fewer resources. The entire staff served as the president and the janitor. We were all needed for basically every element of ministry that happened in and through our church. As we grew, we added staff. We added complexity. We added complications. We added a building. Throughout the change, our roles and responsibilities also changed. As the Lead Pastor, I continued to function as the president, but the janitorial elements I often did in the past faded away. We had other staff to handle some of the things I used to do.
Wait a second, though. Isn’t that supposed to be a good thing? Aren’t we supposed to grow and evolve in our roles and our churches (or organizations) grow? After all, this is what we hope for, right? This is what we pray for and dream about.
If you’re not quite there yourself, isn’t this what you are praying, dreaming, and hoping for in your church?
And that’s why this element of passion depression is so hidden and difficult to uncover.
In the early days of any church or organization, everyone is involved on the ground floor — staff, volunteers, and anyone else we can find. The ground floor is dirty. But it’s also where the mission and vision have legs. The ground floor is where life change isn’t just a story, but a person. The ground floor is wonderful, and in my case, I was accidentally removed from it. Our growing church had grown me away from my first love, the ground floor of ministry. That’s not easy to spot. It’s so subtle, so hidden, and so powerful.
Just a couple of questions before I tell you what I choose to do:
- Is your passion withering as your church is growing?
- Are you searching to find the same excitement or enthusiasm you once had?
- Is your job today different than it was a year or two ago?
- Is your growing church growing you away from why you began in the first place?
I’m not saying the ground floor is your hidden issue, but it was a huge part of mine. And to some extent, it plays a role in most everyone’s reducing passion.
Here’s what I did (and it’s not going to blow your mind):
I tried to remove myself from only hearing stories of life change in inserted myself into places where life change was actually happening.
I realized only hearing stories of life change wasn’t enough. I needed to be, at least in some way, engaged with the people behind the stories.
Specifically, I helped start a new college ministry at our church. I then volunteered a few times in our guest services department. I spent a little time sitting with people who’s life was forever changing through our church and engaged with their story. Basically, I grounded myself back to a portion of our ground floor. Or to say it as a tweet, I decided to be bound to the ground. I’m hoping to soon lead a Starting Point group (our short-term small group experience for seekers, starters, and returners). My wife and I are going to lead a newly married small group soon, too. I’m even considering being a high school small group leader (but that might be taking it too far!).
Here’s the deal: the ground floor is messy, but it’s where the mission is the most magical. If you’ve been removed from the magic of your ministries, the good news is you always have the authority to reinsert yourself right back from where you came. All I know for sure is that removing myself from that magic absolutely hurt the mission in my heart.