- Pt 1- Unwavering Commitment to the Gospel
- Pt 2- An Unquestioned Call to the Ministy
- Pt 3- An Unrivalved Confidence in the Word of God (joebuchanan.wordpress.com)
- Pt 4- An Unrelenting Passion for Purity (joebuchanan.wordpress.com)
This morning, I want to close out this series with a final trait that will the difference between making it through a revitalizing process or dropping out early. Over the past eighteen years I have seen more Pastors fail because they lacked this single trait than all of the other traits combined. A successful revitalizing Pastor must possess unbreakable patience if he is to succeed.
When I use the word patience here I am really combining two Biblical concepts into one word. The New Testament uses the word patience primarily in the sense of putting up with difficult people and then uses the word “longsuffering” with reference to enduring hard or difficult times. For the purpose of this article I am rolling both of these ideas together into the single word patience. A revitalizing pastor must have unbreakable patience in order to endure in the face of difficult people and times.
There is no ministry in the world that will test your patience quite like the work of revitalizing an existing church. In a planting situation the Pastor has the advantage of being able to set the tone and direction of and the church from the very start. He will have hard times and be under the constant strain of not having enough finances and often will have the strain of being alone in the work of the ministry. But the revitalizing Pastor, in addition to these strains, will have the additional problem of having to deal with the bad habits, theology, and practices of an existing church. This is where I often see problems arise.
The typical scenario goes like this— a young man graduates seminary and receives the call to an existing church that is need of some new life and ideas. The church may be plateaued or in decline and in the interview process they share with the young Pastor their desire to move forward. The first few months of his ministry go well and he receives a warm and delightful reception into the church. But then he begins to see some of the warts and wrinkles in his new church and being an idealist (all recent seminary graduates are idealists until the reality of ministry beats it out of them) he starts to make some changes. Here is where the problems start.
Existing churches do not change quickly and they never change simply because a new Pastor tells them they should. (FYI- if you think your church is the exception to this you are deluded) Churches change for two primary reasons. First, they will change when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing. Second, they will change when they gain enough trust in the Pastor and leaders of the church to trust them. This second reason that churches change is the most important and usually the least frequent reason that people change. I want to encourage you to strive for it, but let me warn you that it will take time and will require that you have unbreakable patience.
The most successful revitalizing Pastors that I have observed are men who are willing to stay in the same church for years and invest in the work of ministry over the long haul. They realize that change does not occur quickly so they work slowly and methodically. They will ignore secondary or unimportant issues in order to tackle the primary issues first. They patiently teach and wait for their church to buy into the doctrine before they institute changes. This doesn’t happen in months, but over the course of years. It cannot be rushed, but I promise you that it will bear sweet fruit. If you think you can hurry the process or get it done quickly, you will probably fail. Be patient and good things will come your way.