One of the podcasts I always try to keep up with is Catalyst. A guy I have listened to for some time was the featured interview the other day…Francis Chan from Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, California.
In the interview Francis was speaking about his continual struggle with rejection. He said he has a hard time when anyone leaves his church, and always has. He went on to make this statement…one that I have never heard anyone make, and one that messed me up…
“If Jesus had a church in Simi Valley, His church would be smaller than mine.” He went on to say that the way of Jesus has always been radical, and that Jesus showed no concern for lowering the bar so someone could continue to come to His “church”. Francis said he was more concerned with appeasing people to keep them, than Jesus would be.
I struggle on a deep level when someone leaves The Bridge. This is a bad place to be when you are pastoring a church re-plant. A re-plant infers a necessary and core level change. Change is always hard, is rarely popular, and is an automatic way to get people to leave your church
Not only do I struggle on a deep level, but I struggle on a personal level, that only comes from doing everything I can to keep people…meaning that when they leave, I am set up to take it personally.
I recently taught at The Bridge on “A New Version of Success”. Jesus came to the earth knowing He was going to be rejected. Knowing His church would be small. Knowing that on some levels He would leave space for people to call His ministry a failure. He defined His success by His submission to His Father, not by the reaction of others.
I think every pastor in the world fights this battle: the definition of success. Not only self imposed, but what is imposed on us by those who observe our ministry. I think the place you land determines whether ministry rots you…leading to burnout; or is a blessing in your life that creates joy and hope in God’s ability to change people’s life at any pace He sees fit.
The issue of success is a defining issue for me. One I can’t say with clear conscience I have landed on…but one that I feel like has just been helped along