As I have been here at Wendover Hills for about six months, I have learned so many things about life, my spiritual walk and what it takes to run a church. For this blog, I want to talk about a few struggles (a buddy of mine did this and it was helpful to me, thanks Nate K) that I have seen in my own life as we grow as a church and as a young adult ministry. There have been pastor's who want to know how we continue to grow our ministry, but also what are some struggles to a growing ministry. I will focus on young adults ministry a bit more in these first few thoughts and then talk about our church as well. I want to talk about some of the struggles of a growing ministry first.
1). Short on resources, short on contacts.
In regards to our young adult ministry, it is hard to have contact with other pastors who share my passion and vision for college and young adults. Our ministry really is unique because there are so many churches who have nothing at all for young adults. As I have asked pastors about this the answers are some what troubling. "They do not contribute as much to the church." "We do not have the resources for them." These kinds of answers get me down and as I talk with other pastors about our young adult ministry, I almost feel bad that we have one because it is successful.
2). Yound adults are just flat out hard to reach.
I am not saying that they are not reachable but it takes a ton of time and effort to reach this age group. Just having them go to church and hear a sermon is not enough. So much more must go into leading this ministry. They want to know that people are being real with them. They also do not just take what a pastor says to the bank, but they want to investigate it themselves. Finding things for them to do together is absolutley essential, but you must find things that are inexpensive. I have a person on my leadership team for this purpose, he finds things for us to do as a ministry that is inexpensive yet fun. Rember, that if you do not reach someone for Christ by the age of 18 then your percentage of reaching them goes way down.
3) As a ministry or church for that matter grows, there is less and less encouragement from people.
I know that my honeymoon stage is over at my church and people realize that I have made and will make mistakes. I think that people believe that we, as pastors, are getting encouragement from others but rarely do we get encouragement from people in the congregation, other pastors (who see our church as different anyways), even leadership over all. As my buddy Nate says, "you don't go into ministry for encouragement but for the call of seeing people come to Christ." How true that statement is. Another friend of mine who is a Senior pastor said, "People come to the pastor and want encouragement but when the pastor needs it, who is there to give it?"
Very rarley do I get a call or e-mail from someone just giving encouragement. It is normally something that I did wrong, could do better, have not done yet etc.
4) As this church grows, and our young adult ministry grows, people are going to feel neglected.
I have learned that it is impossible to touch everyone, all the time. I need to be recruiting leaders and teaching them how to do ministry. This is why our small groups are so vitally important to this church. The leaders become the ones who do ministry and make impacts on people's lives. We can get so much more ministry done when we have 20 leaders then if we have two pastors (how many we have at my church) tyring to do it all. I have to be willing to allow people to do ministry. This is something God is speaking to me about big time. He is telling me, "Bryan you are not the only person who can reach people." I am working on this. There are people who are so much better at doing things than I am, I need to let them do it.
I know as the church has grown, for the pastors to touch each person it is hard. I am sure there have been questions "Why doesn't he call me more?" Why doesn't he spend as much time with me" Why? Why? Why? This is hard to explain to people that has the ministry grows it becomes more and more difficult to do, and this can cause hurt feelings on both sides.5) There is more conflict and administration stuff.
This has been the hardest one for me to deal with. I am a people person (extroverted) it is where I get my energy from, being with people. However, the admin. will not take care of itself. I have to force myself to sit and do the things that the denomination wants (Ordination stuff ready for January's meeting, being on the discipeship team for the disctrict etc. etc.) I think I believed that coming into ministry it was going to be 70% of the time with people and 30% of the time doing planning, communication etc. I was wrong. There is announcements, cards to be sent, staff meetings, board meetings, leadership meeting (men, youth, young adult, small group, ministry leaders meetings and the list can go on), finding more leaders, meeting times, preparing for church services etc. I am trying hard to keep it balanced but it is much more difficult then I thought it would be.
As a church grows there is more conflict as well. It is something that is just part of life, not the church but life. Let me break this down a bit:Leaders:
You have leaders who want you to invest more time into them but you just do not have it. Or they say I am too busy to help out anymore, I am burnt out etc. so I am leaving the team. Or something even more difficult, you have to ask someone to step out of ministry, boy is that one hard to do. Young Adults:
Why don't you come to this event or that event in the evening and just hang out with us. Why don't you mentor me? Again, why? why? why?People:
I cannot understand why the pastor has not called us, or asked us out to dinner. They went out with such and such a family. I have missed a few weeks, why didn't the pastor call me.
Here is the hardest one that I have had to deal with since being in ministry with both our young adult ministry and here at my church. I have a problem with the pastor and he should know it. When a church or ministry is small, the pastor can touch everyone, know who is there and who is not. He can have dinner every other week with people and reach everyone. However, as the church/ministry grows it is impossible to keep up this area. As pastors, we must have a heads up if there is an issue, I wish I could be a mind reader but for now I am not. As a pastor, you will need to understand that as ministries grow your focus will have to be on developing leaders. The hard part is that people are going to have their feelings hurt along the way, including yours. However, this (developing leaders) will be the only way that a growing ministry will be able to sustain its growth. So many pastors get burned out because they feel that they have to be the one doing everything. The bottom line is that you as a pastor cannot touch everyone. For your church to move ahead, your people will need to understand this aspect of ministry, it is part of God blessing your church/ministry with growth.
This is part of an e-mail that I am sending to some pastors who are wanting to know some struggles of our minitry and church as it grows.
What are some of your thoughts out there?
What do you agree with/disagree with?
Part 2 will come in a few days.