One of our key YLO members volunteered to share the current crisis situation. We’ve kept this anonymous for obvious reasons.
When was the last time you or your ministry was in a crisis?
I’m in one right now.
Last Sunday, our pastor announced to the church that he would be transitioning into a full-time counseling ministry within a few months. So what is the crisis? Well, I have experienced this before – a new senior pastor, a new philosophy, and unfortunately a new staff. One May I had just come home from our biggest and best weekend retreat. So when I got an email from the new senior pastor asking to meet with me that morning I expected nothing but praise—well, maybe praise and a raise! Instead, I was told that the Deacons had met on the Thursday before the retreat and decided to ask for my resignation – effective immediately. I was not allowed to say goodbye to my students or to the church, and told I was not allowed to even speak with my students. The reason? I was “too contemporary” and that I “didn’t fit in here.”
The actual truth came to light when the new pastor’s best friend’s son was hired as the youth pastor.
Gotta love church politics.
Within a matter of days I was jobless, homeless, and completely desperate. For the next year my family (wife and two children) lived in a one-bedroom apartment, worked odd jobs, and struggled to put food on the table. I’m not looking for a pity party. Trust me I know I’m not the only youth pastor to experience this. Unfortunately, this story is far too common within the church. Quite frankly, it sucks! (If that is too strong, go with “stinks.”) It was almost a year to the day later that we moved to a different state and joined the staff of an amazing church. Early on we knew this church was different. Grace was not just a theology, it was a reality. People lived in it and through it. We were home. Jeans? Yep! Cool music? Yep! Supportive pastor and board? Yep! FINALLY, a church where I “fit in”!
So when I heard the pastor announce his resignation last Sunday, I immediately started to relive the crisis from just a few years ago. I’m not just worried about my future, but for the future of this church I love. The church is less than ten years old and just built a $1.5 million building. It was formed as the result of an ugly church split when my pastor resigned in the midst of turmoil. Five hundred people followed him, and they started over.
Just like last time, board members are telling me, “Don’t worry, your job is safe.” But I am worried. I don’t know what the future will bring. The thought of moving again –with a daughter in her sophomore year of high school, a son in sixth grade, and a newborn –scares me to death.
So I’m wondering, will this time be different? Will my family and I survive the transition, or will I be searching those youth ministry job sites? Will my kids graduate from the schools they love, or will they have to make new friends – again?
I know the answer for living through a crisis: be still, don’t worry, pray, and seek His face. (Psalm 46:10; Philippians 4:6-7; Matthew 6:33) I’ve shared those verses with others in crisis. I’ve walked alongside broken and desperate people. I know the “answers.”
But I’m struggling. I want to trust God. I want to believe our church leadership. I want to be here for years to come. I want to be faithful no matter what happens.
But I’m struggling.
Even as I write this someone just posted this verse on Facebook. “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” (Matthew 6:34 MSG)
I know. I know. I’m trying. I’m trying to be still. I’m trying not to worry. I’m trying to pray. I’m trying to seek His face.
So if you have been through it, going through it, or it’s coming – please know you are not alone. As much as I may not “want to hear it” myself, I know God’s Word is true. So, as best as possible – be still, don’t worry, pray, and seek His face.