Decision Time image

Decision Time

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build.

Talking with other pastors there are some clear themes about how church life looks in this season. Does any of this sound familiar?

  • There has been a lot of movement in congregations, with new faces in the pews, while familiar faces are absent.
  • Some churches are still struggling to see people return while others have grown but in both scenarios there has been a lot of musical chairs going on.
  • Pastors are tired, and asking serious questions about how to maintain spiritual vitality and emotional health.
  • There is concern about the extent to which we have grown disciples or produced consumers.
  • There is frustration at a lack of willingness in congregations to step up and carry responsibility.
  • Many pastors are thinking about other job options.

  • Here’s my take on all this: don’t make any big decisions. At least not now – wait until the summer. We all need a few months of more normal life to allow things to settle down before making those big calls we might later come to regret. Yes, it might be hard to see what ‘more normal’ might look like with the war in Ukraine and the cost of living crisis, but we need to get out of pandemic living at least.

    I’m concerned about pastors stepping out of ministry; about lead pastors saying they’ll stay on, but only as a team members rather than point leaders; about the amount of deconstruction taking place and the babies that are at risk of being thrown out with the bathwater. After what we’ve been through it is understandable that these issues are coming to the surface: if a pandemic doesn’t make us take a hard look at life and ministry then something is wrong. But that only increases my sense that now is not the right time to make big decisions that could harm us and those we are called to serve. Give it some time. Things could look very different by July.

    If you’re a church member thinking about moving congregation: don’t! Get back into the life of your current church and postpone any decision for a few months. Wait and see how you feel in July.

    If you’re a pastor thinking about giving up and doing something else: don’t! Trust God is with you, put your head down and push on. Wait and see how you feel in July.

    If you’re about to announce a major shift in your theology or ecclesiology: don’t! Allow those issues to bubble away beneath the surface while you get on with the vital work of proclaiming Christ and caring for his people. Wait and see how you feel in July.

    There are times when it is right to move congregation, to change occupation, to adjust our theology – but I’m not sure now is that time. Hold fast. Love and serve Jesus by loving and serving the church. Plant and heal and build. It’s that time.


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