Could Your Growing Ministry be Responsible for Your Shrinking Passion?

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.

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Neutralizing Your Fear to Lead Change

What’s keeping you from leading change?

There are some things that are unchangeable—things outside of our control. But what about the stuff that we do control? What about the stuff that we can change. The places where we have autonomy or authority.

  • You’re a business leader, and your primary product is slipping in market share. If something doesn’t change soon, you’ll be out of business. You know it. Your staff knows it. Your competition knows it.
  • You’re a team leader, and your staff is growing complacent. Moral is low, people are beginning to leave, and you know something must change internally for the team to be a team once again. You’re the leader. You have the power to make a change.
  • You’re a pastor or church leader. Things have grown stagnant in the congregation. People are still attending, but they aren’t engaging like before. They arrive late and leave early. New families are not showing up. You know something must change if you are going to reach the community again. You’re the leader. You know what’s wrong, and you believe you can fix it. You can make the shift. You can implement the change.

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6 Ways to Craft an Ineffective Sermon

You have never tried to make your message irrelevant, boring, or incomprehensible.

At least I hope not!

But you find yourself preaching while questioning your effectiveness. You walk up to deliver a sermon lacking confident in your content. You question your ability. Your capacity. Even your calling. You feel your church more tolerates the message than engages in the content.

Of course, this isn’t the case EVERY time you preach, but more times than you’d like to admit.

Option 1:

The easy solution is to become hyper-spiritual. Say you are “trusting” God and the Holy Spirit to speak in spite of you. Not to be irreverent, though. We know at the heart of preaching, spiritual intervention is necessary. But we all know the difference between “I’m ready to go and trusting God to do what only he can do,” and “I’m not close to ready, so God perform a miracle.”

Option 2:

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This Might Be The Most Important Preaching Principle I’ve Learned

This might be the most important preaching principle I’ve learned.

Before I tell you the lesson, though, let me walk you through my process of discovery:

When I first began preaching, I took an entire manuscript on stage. It was a pastoral security blanket – except not pink and fuzzy. I tried not to read it directly, and in most cases, I was successful. But in my mind, it was good to know it was there… just in case I needed to snuggle.

Unfortunately, as I watched my messages the next day (it’s awkward, but you should do this if you don’t already!), I felt my preaching was lacking an important ingredient – CONNECTION. I was communicating all the content. I didn’t miss any stories, illustrations, points, or verses. But as I watched myself, I realized something significant:

Great content without great connection is poor communication.

And that was my problem. I communicated clear content without any relational connection, and it wasn’t working.

As I diagnosed my lack of connection, the problem became apparent:

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But They Never Forget How You Make Them Feel.

Have you ever worried about saying the wrong thing?

As a pastor, I find myself facing many situations where I’m scared I’ll say the wrong thing. Sure, there’s an occasional slip in a sermon or stage announcement, but the place where my words find the most fear is hospitals and funerals. When you’re a pastor, walking into a time of great struggle or grief is a privilege, but when people look to you as an extension of God, it carries an unfair weight.

I hate to admit this, but I use to practice what I wanted to say before walking into an emotionally charged, grief stricken environment. I was so scared that I would misrepresent God, or simply misrepresent all of humanity, that I would practice lines like I was on a date. After all, what can you say to a husband who just lost a wife, or to a parent who’s child is suffering?

What should you say when people are expecting your words to bring comfort or peace?

There are no mulligans in these moments, and I learned a few valuable lessons the hard way. Most importantly, I learned this powerful principle:

People rarely remember what you say,
but they never forget how you make them feel.

That might be worth reading again. 

With that principle in mind, here are a few things I try to remember when I’m facing a “pastoral moment.” Whether you’re a professional Christian or not, you can do this, too… Continue reading…

Stop Preaching Every Week!

I love talking “shop” with other pastors, and lately, I’ve had the pleasure to interact with many. Preaching seems to always surface as a topic of conversation. Every pastor feels the pressure to preach great messages – not just true, but engaging and helpful content presented in an engaging way.

The most common question I’ve received in the past month or so revolves around the number of times in a calendar year a typical Senior Pastor should preach. The questions do not always start there, but that question tends to be the core issue. The last time this issue was presented to me by another pastor, it sounded something like this: “I know you preach without notes. How can I do that when I’m preaching 51 weeks a year?”

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Just Be Normal!

The most abnormal pastors I know are the ones who seem completely normal. That’s an unfortunate reality, but it’s pretty true. Being a pastor is difficult. I know there are many tough jobs – many which are way more difficult than being a pastor. But there are not too many jobs that require a person to carry the weight of a pastor. And it’s the weight that can make us weird. It’s a unique kind of weight – both personal and spiritual. And the spiritual weight is no joke. It’s real, and it’s heavy.

Pastors can begin to look abnormal quickly. They often dress differently (especially in some denominations), they act differently, and they are expected to behave differently. I learned this the hard way while cheering for my son in a soccer game. “Get up,” I yelled across the field, “and if that boy knocks you down again, you get up and KNOCK HIM DOWN!!!” You might be able to yell something like this. I can’t … anymore. I did once, and it just so happened that the bully on the other team and his family went to Watermarke Church where I’m the Lead Pastor. I intentionally use the past tense “went,” because I doubt they attend any longer!

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