I’ve been feeling something for a while now.

Maybe you have, too.

It’s something I’ve even “prayed” about… like how Christians say they pray about things, but really just conclude something they hope God’s okay with.

closedpulpitI plan to leave my church.

I’ll stand in front of my congregation and say,

“I’m going to attend elsewhere. Things don’t feel like they used to. There’s another congregation that seems more put-together and exciting. They even somehow seem more ‘biblical’ over there, too. You guys just aren’t feeding me anymore.”

Such a plan only lasts for a nano-second.

(Translation: I’m not actually planning on leaving my church. I’m confessing a temptation I feel every now and then… maybe you have, too.)

I’m supposed to be mature.

I need to think bigger than that. You need to think bigger than that.

We need to think bigger than that.

As a lead pastor, I do get emails from people who do this almost every season. It’s like the changing weather makes people change their church.

Thankfully, there always seems to be a remnant through God’s grace – a core group who understands things at a healthier level. These are the “for better or for worse” servant-leaders who get it and push through spiritual walls for the sake of what God is doing in them and through them.

The problem is on a general, church-wide scale it feels like when people aren’t “feeling it” they’re eventually gone:

  • “The worship team doesn’t play the songs I like.”
  • “I purposefully didn’t come for weeks as a test. No one from the church called me. Never mind that I’m not in a small group… the point is…”
  • “The building campaign should be run this way…. instead of that way.”
  • “I showed up for an event and it wasn’t what I expected.”
  • “It’s not how it was when I first started attending.”
  • “I’m just not feeling fed.”

It’s the last one that grinds me the most… not because I believe I’m a great preacher, but if God’s Word is the foundation of a message the only reason people couldn’t feel “fed” is if they closed their “mouths.” According to Jesus, God’s seed is good – it’s the soil that has the problem. Maybe it’s just easier to blame a preacher or church than personally own that.

Why am I posting this here?

There’s a reason why your senior pastor seems worn down some daysit’s because your senior pastor is worn down some days.

Senior pastors often feel like plate spinners who are trying to keep things healthy so people stay happy. It’s not our job, but it somehow becomes our job. It ultimately makes us want to work somewhere where people demonstrate long-term commitment and patronage… like their favorite ice cream store. (Sadly, that comparison is truer than we’d like to admit.)

Right now, go reaffirm a “for better or for worse” commitment to your church and its senior leadership. While you’re at it, dare others to do the same.

Feed up… before he or she gets fed up.

What are some of the “reasons” you’ve heard someone left a church? Share a comment. (Maybe by confessing some of the insanity we’ll better recognize it before it comes out of us.)

Senior Pastor questionsA healthy relationship with your senior pastor is a core part of a healthy youth ministry.

It doesn’t matter if your church is large, medium, small or a start-up – your roles can powerfully complement each other if you each discern how to powerfully compliment each other.

A lot gets in the way of that, and it isn’t just about ego or insecurities. Sometimes you both become so busy that a disconnect happens over time. The good news is you can nurture something healthier, starting today.

Here are four questions you need to ask your senior pastor to get the ball rolling:

    • “How often do you want to meet, and what for?”

      In one church I served in, my senior pastor wanted to meet each week so we could synergize our efforts together. It was full of great encouragement and brainstorming. I instigated that pattern in the next church I served in, only that senior pastor found it annoying to meet every week. It ultimately degraded our relationship as he assumed I didn’t know how to do my job and needed extensive coaching. Make sure you both know how often you need to meet and what the purpose of that time will be.

    • “Do you need a safe place to just vent?” 

      When I made the transition to become a senior pastor, I suddenly became aware of perspective I was clueless about as a youth worker. This space is too small to list it all, but I will simply say that it adds up and isn’t always something you can debrief with your spouse about. Offer your senior pastor the chance to dump out what they’re sorting out, be it as a spiritual leader, parent, organizational boss or a human being. Honor that with confidentially and prayers.

    • “How can I serve you this week?”

      You’ll likely be surprised by the answers you hear and don’t hear to this question. As I asked this of my senior pastors I’d sometimes get a quick response, such as “I really need someone to teach this class for me. Can you do it?” Other times I had to pull out something of them by saying, “It seems like you and your wife haven’t had a date night in ages. Can I watch your kids on Friday so you can go out?”

    • “Who can I confront or encourage to help you out?”

      This may be the most awkward question you ask, but it can be the most therapeutic. Your senior pastor has a network of relationships that are similar-yet-larger than yours. You can help pour water on flames that need to be put out and gasoline on the fires that need to grow. Be willing to confront a critic or help spur on the most recent volunteer.

This is obviously not a comprehensive list, but maybe it gets you started. It also helps you better live out Hebrews 13:7: “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.”

What are some questions you’ve identified that we all need to be asking?



Youth ministry was very frustrating until I realized it’s more of a journey than an experience. My problem is that I wanted instant and powerful results. All I got was disappointment. It’s not that the ministry was a failure (It was anything but that), it’s just that what I wanted was not what we were getting. I was impatient.

Again, youth ministry is a long journey and if you stick around long enough you will see fruit. To produce disciples and bring teens into a deep relationship with Jesus Christ takes hard work, patience andPERSISTENCE. If you are persistent in your ministry you’ll eventually build momentum and see the reward to your labor. Three areas in youth ministry where persistence is key are:

Recruiting Volunteers:There is no silver bullet to recruiting volunteers. It takes a lot of:

  • Meet and Greet
  • Email Blasts
  • Announcements From The Pulpit
  • Phone Calls
  • Invests and Invites

The more you make it a part of your routine and your volunteers the more leaders you’ll recruit. There will be seasons when you get better results than others; however, the key is to continually ask.

Connecting With Parents: No offense, but you are not the first person on a parent’s mind. To bust through the noisiness of a parent’s life you need to persistently call, reach out and connect with them. If you are hosting an event, don’t just throw out a flyer, create a buzz. If you are trying to meet one on one with a parent, set-up the meeting, check-in and then confirm it. Hold them accountable and support them by consistently communicating with them.

Leading Up: If you want your pastor to respect and support you, then you need to make the relationship a priority. To keep it in the front of your mind you need to be persistent when dealing with contention and disagreement. Communicate when it’s hard to talk and shout his praise when it’s not easy. Work through the tension and watch the relationship grow.

Persistence is a key to endurance in youth ministry. It means working through the tension and trusting that God will pull you through. It’s easy to give up, change things around and abandon ship when life gets hard. What you need to do is stand up straight and move forward.

Where else is persistence needed in youth ministry?

Chris Wesley (@chrisrwesley)

How To Lead Your Pastor

Chris Wesley —  January 31, 2013 — 13 Comments

I used to have heated arguments with my pastor.  They were exhausting and painful.  I remember walking into the church office after a moment of confrontation filled with resentment thinking, “If I ran this church it would be better because I would…”  All that mindset did was drain me.  Many times the reason pastors and youth pastors clash is because of a disagreement on decisions, strategies or leadership.

While you may never want to be a pastor you might have some thought and ideas on how it should be done.  Before you get ready to go off and plant your own church, consider that maybe you need to do a better job of leading up.  If you ever want your pastor to listen to your ideas and you want to LEAD UP you need to make sure you:

  • Offer Encouragement: Your pastor takes on much of the criticism and burden that leading a church will bring.  It’ll be easy for him to feel defeated and hopeless, you need to be a cheerleader.  Not only will this give him confidence; but, it will help him see that you are loyal to his leadership.  Loyalty is often rewarded.
  • Practice Obedience:  As the leader your pastor needs to make decisions.  Some you’ll agree with and others not so much.  If you disobey your pastor and constantly undermine his decisions you are showing a lack of trust and signs of arrogance. Showing obedience to your pastor is also a sign of trust in God.  After all your pastor is in the position he is in because of God.  While he might not always have it right, your obedience will help you build clout so that you can guide him in the right direction.
  • Praise Publicly Confront Privately: Never criticize your pastor publicly.  When you speak about your pastor in the open you shape people’s perspectives.  You will not only hurt his image, but the churches and even yours.  If you have a problem with a decision he’s made or something he’s done confront him privately.  Set up a meeting where you can chat one on one, so that he’s not embarrassed in front of others.
  • Continually Communicate: If you ever want to influence up you need to consistently communicate with your pastor.  That means being honest with your struggles and letting him know your needs.  It also requires that you ask your pastor, “How can I serve you?”  What you are really saying to him is, “How can I help you out?”  This builds a healthy relationship so that when you are in trouble or in need you have an ally.

The relationship you have with your pastor is going to depend on your personalities.  Even if you are coming from completely different ends of the earth, you can influence him by earning his respect, trust and loyalty.  You won’t get your way in ministry if you are knocking him down, disobeying his decisions and making him out to be a bad guy.  Lead up by showing him you are worth following.

How do you strengthen the relationship you have with your pastor?



At anytime there are Churches all over the world in the process of searching for a lead pastor or recovering from the departure of the last one. It’s not an easy place to be, but the statistics would say that many of you reading this have been through this or are in the middle of it right now. I am currently entering the 15th month in my church without a lead pastor and it has been a challenging season for sure, but I thought it might be helpful to share about the good and bad of a time that each of us will likely face at some point. For some, this transition period is healthy, and the successor simply steps into place taking the baton and running with it but many on the other hand are sudden departures, with no one to fill the position in the wings and it is these transitions that are the most challenging and painful, mine has been the latter.

The obvious challenge of being leaderless has been a loss in momentum of the Church as despite the effort of our team, losing the “face” of the Church has meant a partial loss of identity and we have spent many months trying to regain lost momentum. For us loss of momentum came with a noticeable migration of attendance and the subsequent drop of in giving. It was not long before budgets tightened and decisions became tougher to make.

There have been staff casualties; hours cut back, positions not filled after departures increasing the amount of work to be shouldered by a decreasing number of people. In the midst of these challenges and growing collateral damage of the reality of Pastoral transition, I am thankful that of all the groups in the Church, our students have remained almost unaffected by the process. Even as parents decide to move churches, students have remained where their friends are.

While the youth have remained fairly unscathed, the same cannot be said for their volunteer leaders and quite frankly myself. It has been very challenging to lead in this uncertain time, with no clear voice or vision to execute; it has taken a great amount of patience and trust in the Lord believing that there are better days ahead. I have had to manage my expectations of what decisions can and will be made in the past 14 months. Even changing obviously broken systems is not easy in with out a leader.

Much of what has changed in the past months has been incremental as stability is often the focus in times like this, and thus a young, passionate leader can become frustrated when we have to put a pause on new initiatives and programs for an indefinite period of time. For some churches it could be 6 months to find a new leader, for us we are going to be 16-20 months at a minimum.

In the midst of a growing portfolio of work, I have had to remind myself that my first priority is my students, their spiritual growth and shepherding. When I look at the relative health that has remained in the youth group, I am actually excited because I am deeply convicted that from this health is an opportunity to shape the future of our church and to be an encouragement in a discouraging time.

Working in a Church without a lead pastor is challenging to say the least, its often difficult, and could seem like a logical place to jump ship. But please, please, please consider what you have been called to. Like a marriage, I chose to work at my Church in sickness and in health and it is not until the moment I am called away that I would even consider leaving no matter how challenging the circumstances.

Chances are each of you will experience a time of lead pastoral transition, I pray for you that it is not as long as ours. Stick with it, trust the He has better days in store for your Church. The workload may seem like too much and the road too tough, stick with it and serve the Church. The refining process for lack of a better word stinks, you feel overwhelmed with work, disheartened by declining attendance and longing for the day when the right leader arrives and takes the reigns. In the mean time, I have to stay faithful and love my students, my Church and focus on doing what I can to lead well in a challenging season of ministry.

PS – If you are in the midst of this and want to chat sometime, email me! We are in this together geoffs@peaceportalalliance.com

-Geoff (Twitter)

 

A little bit of blog love straight out of my Moleskin journal today. At the end of my life, I want to be remembered for a few things:

Great husband/dad
More than other goal in my life I want to be a great husband and father. I love this calling and privilege and fight for it to remain in this top spot. I love being a husband and a father, but I also love being a pastor and a youth worker. These goals are all competing yet complementary. I want my wife to have the best husband in the world, my kids to have the best dad in the world. I fail at this one most often, which is frustrating to me, I still have so far to go and know I’ll never arrive. But I will try.

Good pastor
Second on my journal list is to be a good pastor. To faithfully serve the students, families and adults in the church where I serve. That I want to be laser-focused on them first in my ministry, and to build God’s kingdom through the local church. So far that has been in 2 churches over 15 years, excited about where God has me now and how I can serve His church in the future. I’m a big believer in the church (warts and all, as my mom would say), and that is something I want to be remembered for. Pastor first, speaker guy second.

Helped other youth workers
Part of my heart’s longings is to help other youth workers. Sometimes when I reflect on my ministry experiences and journey I see how God was and is preparing me to serve other youth workers. I feel privileged to have worked in healthy and unhealthy contexts, seen incredible leaders and serve incredibly bad leaders. I want to take that experience and help others that will carry the youth ministry torch long after I’m gone. Creating resources, blogging, teaching, conversations over lunch, whenever there is an opportunity to help people alongside me in the trenches.

What do you want to be remembered for?

JG