A couple begins attending the church you lead. They sit in the back, watching and listening attentively. They return more often over the next several months, but seem reluctant to engage any deeper. Finally, you are able to make a connection and find out that they have just begun attending church again. They share that they left the last church they attended after being wounded. They share all that they did at their former church, and how painful the circumstances were that led to them leaving the church. What are you to do? How should the church handle this family?
While it is popularly believed that pastors are people persons, that isn’t always the truth. It is possible to make pastoral ministry, outside of Sunday morning, a solitary endeavor. It is possible for a pastor to become solitary by filling a week’s calendar with solitary events like study, reading, writing, and retreat. The truth is that the solitary pastor, and the church they lead, probably isn’t as effective as they could be at fulfilling the stated mission of the church.
I remember like it was yesterday. I felt that I had been lied to. To make matters worse, I felt that I was still being lied to. The frustration built as I continued to contemplate that, what I had thought to be the truth was actually something else. I can remember exactly where I was when I, as a newly minted church planter came to the realization that all of the things that I had been told about church planting failed to come close to the reality that I was now living. That is also the moment I knew that I needed to begin writing about my experiences, thoughts, and feelings as a church planter and church leader.
The older I get, the more I think about what I am leaving behind. When I was younger, leaving a legacy was the furthest thing from my mind. But now I begin to wonder if the things that I have done in life matter. I wonder if the generations that come after me will have knowledge that I existed at all. As leaders we ask, or should ask, the same question. What is it that I am leaving behind? What is my legacy? The answers may vary from leader to leader, but there is one answer that should trump all of the others.