You’d probably attribute it to blind chance or dumb luck – if you don’t believe that God governs the course of our lives in detail.
Two years ago I set out to write a brief work entitled “Navigating Through the Storm: Using the Pulpit to Steer the Course.” It was intended as a digest of TMG’s collective wisdom (having served hundreds of churches over the years) with suggestions about how interim pastors might make best use of the pulpit in guiding the church through transition.
I stopped working on it almost a year ago.
An “Aha!” moment stopped me dead in my tracks, set me off on a new direction that is about to come to fruition
While I was conducting further research and working on the rough draft of the aforementioned tome, I stumbled into some little known research that “clicked” with everything my colleagues and I had learned over accumulated decades of experience (and the little wisdom gained therein).
You see, our collective experience as interventionists and intentional interim pastors revealed a couple of alarming patterns.
- The vast majority of pastors that leave the sorts of churches we serve leave under duress.
- The two years (give or take) prior to their departure are marked by a lack of clear direction.
- Their attempts to solve problem #2 cause them to lurch from pillar to post, trying one “fix” after another.
- The church members sensed the confusion, saw the aimless wandering from program to program and had become disheartened.
I felt that the underlying problem lay in the general vicinity of the pastor’s inability to identify or persevere in a coherent mission and vision and the unrecognized need for personal and professional development. (Let me state clearly that these are not character defects, they are the results of inadequate training by graduate seminaries and little or no mentoring by more seasoned pastors).
And then came the fateful “Aha!”
I uncovered two pieces of research – a D. Min. dissertation at Biola and an Ed. D. dissertation at Pepperdine – that came to the same conclusion: turnaround pastors – those capable of breathing new hope and new life into stagnant or dying churches – share measurably distinctive personal characteristics
So, it turns out, do pastors who have failed to bring growth to their churches!
I’ve spent the last nine months working out the relationship between these characteristics, the leadership behaviors we know bring hope and growth to congregations and – this is key – how to train pastors who aren’t naturally “wired” to be turnaround pastors how to display the leadership behaviors that lead to growing churches.
So I’m officially announcing the launch of my new ministry venture, Turnaround Pastors Inc., and invite you to visit our website.
The goal is simple: instead of training interventionists and intentional interim pastors, eliminate them!
Do this by training pastors to solve their ministry problem in place rather than bailing out and leaving it for someone else to clean up the mess.
Who knows? Maybe this will be our small contribution to the heroic efforts underway to stem the tides that are sweeping the American Church out to sea.