When Is It Time to Move On?

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by FundamentalDan, Oct 10, 2005.

  1. FundamentalDan

    FundamentalDan
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    A question for you all...

    When do you know it is time to move on from the church you are at? How can you tell the difference between discouragement and the prompting of the Holy Spirit to move? I have a friend who is facing a situation like this, I believe, and wonder if anyone has some advice.
     
  2. PastorSBC1303

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    I am not sure that anyone can specifically answer your question. I think that God works differently at times depending on the situation and the person.

    From my experience, when it has been time to move on I sensed a real restlessness in my life. When I sensed this, I would spend a lot of time in prayer and Bible Study seeking to make sure it was of the Lord and not my own doing. When I felt like it was the Lord moving in my life I would try to be very sensitive to what the Lord was doing around me and look for ways in which He wanted me to act.

    I had an older pastor tell me one time "when the Lord is about to move you to a new ministry He gives you a passion for a new place of service and a new group of people and slowly takes away your passion and desire to serve where you are presently."

    I am not sure that is the case in every situation, but I think there is some truth in that statement. The major issue for me is to spend enough quality time with the Lord that I know for certain that it is Him working and not anything in my life. I would also encourage the person to get counsel from trusted friends and have them pray regarding the situation.
     
  3. dh1948

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    When your vision is gone and you can't recapture it. Or, maybe as I read somewhere....It is time to move on when the church gives you a U-Haul gift card!!
     
  4. All about Grace

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    When you are offered a bigger church and bigger salary! God is everywhere - go where the money is! :eek: ;) :D


    JUST KIDDING!!!
     
  5. PastorDave

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    I have heard it said not to move unless God has opened another door of ministry. I do not agree with that. I knew I needed to leave my previous ministry and that my staying on would not be fair to the church I was serving. I tried long and hard to find another place of ministry but no doors were opening. I finally "gave in" to God's strong leading and resigned. It was a difficult five years to have been out of ministry, but looking back on it I realize how desperatly I needed that time away from pastoral ministry. Going right into another pastorate, for me, would have probably been the worst thing I could have done at that time for the new church, for my family and for myself. Plus the time out of minstry was a time of learning, growth and spiritual renewal and refreshment.

    I would not suggest that God leads us all that way. In fact, I would not wish my experience on anyone. But God may lead some to move out of ministry for a time. It may not always be the "spiritual" thing to wait for another pastorate to open before leaving your present ministry.
     
  6. Circuitrider

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    There are so many factors, it is impossible to generalize about that decision. If a man is struggling with this decision he needs to get some good counsel from other godly men. As several have mentioned, when it is time, God "prys our hands off the work" and opens other doors and provides another burden. I believe it is best to have another ministry to step into, but as our brother mentioned, God may have other plans. We need to be open to his leading and direction either way. [​IMG]
     
  7. MikeinGhana

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    This is a topic that has been tossed around for many years. Certainly God does not work the same in every person's life or in every situation. I am in that phase of my ministry where I am seeking direction concerning this very thing. As all of you, I do not want to step out of God's will. I have encouraged myself with this thought, however. God loves me and will not let me make such a big mistake that he will forsake me. The Apostle Paul would certainly be under much scrutiny if his ministry decisions were held up to the standards by which we judge men today. God is a gracious God who wants the best for our lives. He is not sitting heaven with a big stick waiting for us to get out of line. Thank God for that!
     
  8. shannonL

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    I have been trying to raise my support to go to the mission field for 4 yrs. now. The first year my wife had a battle with a thyroid condition. During that year I had to homeschool the kids and alot of other household chores because my wife was so messed up.
    So, we kind of don't count that year. I have seen God provide miraculously while on deputation. Yet, at the same time I have had to be on food stamps to make ends meet. I have had alot of churches make alot of promises but some have never come through.
    I have worked as I can while trying to call pastors and book meetings. It is very discouraging. After these three years I have 28% of the 5500.00 needed per month to live in Spain.
    I know God can do the impossible but if you do the numbers I could quite possibly be on deputation or "pre-field" ministry for 2 more years.
    Last year, after coming back home to OH after a series of meetings in FL churches I experienced some kind of a nervous breakdown or something. I wound up with depression. I have never had anything happen to me like that in my life.
    Since that time i have been on a anti-depressent medication. This has been the most difficult period in my life. I have 3 lovely daughters and a wonderful wife. I'm 36yrs. old.
    Understand, that through all of this I have grown in the Lord. I have been faithful in Bible study and prayer. I have not been involved in any type of immoral behavior or anything.
    I think maybe I just got burned out or something. Trying to balance family life , traveling, calling pastors, etc... I don't know.
    I say all this to say that I'm really struggling with whether or not I should pursue another avenue of ministry. I was formerly in the pastorate when I surrendered to missions. Through the deputation process I have learned a great deal on how to wait on the Lord. Yet, I think God may be closing the door. I have thought about just letting some folk know that I would be willing to test the waters concerning the pastorate. I have alot of family members involved in ministry who could refer me to places.
    I'm beginning to think that even though God has met my needs that isn't necessarily proof that He is still leading me down the missions path. He is obligated according to His word to meet our needs.
    So, I have really been struggling with this issue. I don't want to call it quits on deputation just yet but it just seems like I would have at least half my support after 3yrs. Other missionaries are making it to the field.
    Also, I have been in so many churches that are just barely hanging on. They can't support themselves much less more missionaries. There is alot of apathy in American churches. I have just about come to the conclusion that we need more churches here in America because so many are just hanging on. It is sad to see.
    So, this is the first time i have shared these issues with anyone other than my wife and pastor.
    I could use a little input .

    Thanks
     
  9. Brother Ian

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    Shannon,

    Wow.

    Of course keep praying and studying and continue to seek God's will. He may be closing the door, but He might be strengthening you as well to prepare you for the field.

    When you surrendered to missions, how did you know He was calling you out of the pastorate?

    I know what you've described above would cause many Christians to flee, but besides that, is the Lord speaking to your heart to change roads?

    Perhaps going back to the pastorate and participating in short missions is a possible alternative.
     
  10. shannonL

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    Bro. Ian,

    My first church was in down east NC. We were there a year. We saw 10 saved and baptized 12. It was a SBC church. I cut my teeth in that church so to speak. I had every problem you could imagine. I resigned before they fired me. The people were racist. We had a black boy come to our VBS of about 80 kids. I invited him to come one day while I was out at Wal-Mart. Anyway the next Sunday most all the women in the church just refused to talk to my wife.
    One deacon told me I was unequally yoked to my wife because I grew up in the SBC and she was grew up IFB. How stupid was that. It is a very long drawn out story. I was attending Southeastern Baptist Seminary at the time. That was just a couple of problems. This was a 170 year old church that still had a family in it that was apart of the charter membership of the church. Guess who thought they ran the church.
    At any rate they thought they would get themselves a young preacher boy to train up right. I'm no hireling so in the end I exposed the deacon board for the racists they were and took a stand. Pastors from around the association said I was the first man to ever stand up to the wolves in that church.
    I went back to Southeastern more broke than when I left. Dr. Patterson heard my story and told me,
    "Son I don't respect a man until he's been fired once" Doc. Patterson set me and my family up in an apartment on campus rent free for 6mos. to help me get back on my feet.
    To cut to the chase I moved to OH in 2000 to help my father in law in a small mission work since he had suffered a stroke. During that time I was preaching etc.... I began to earnestly seek God in prayer about exactly what ministry he had for me. It was during that time that I surrendered to missions and the Lord placed Spain upon my heart. It is the least evangelized, Spanish speaking country in the world.
    So that has been my journey so far. God has been good. I'm just having a hard time wondering why things have been so rocky for so long. I just want to raise my girls right and preach the Gospel. Help people along in life by pointing them to Christ.
    I just needed to share these things with people who don't really know me in order to possibly get some unbiased thoughts. Thanks for your response.
     
  11. Brother Ian

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    Shannon,

    I wish I could tell you what to do. . . but I can't.

    I know what you mean about the church you pastored first. I was interviewed by a church to be their pastor. It was the same thing. The church was run by one man and his wife. It, too, was a small church, about 35 people. I thought it would be perfect for me to get experience, but all they wanted was a preacher, they didn't want anyone to lead them. After all, what can a 35 year old guy tell them? (I'm more mature now...42) Needless to say, we never got past the interview. I did preach for them for six weeks straight, but that was it. The biggest problem they had was with the position I took on the marriage of deacons. Not to start another thread, but at the time I believed a deacon should not be divorced because he was to be the husband of one wife. I had one man on the search committee who was a deacon looked at me, pointed his finger in my face, looked very angry and said, "I have only one wife." It revealed his heart to me. He wanted to be a called a deacon but didn't want to submit to any type of authority. His wife was the chairman of the committee. That should tell you something.

    Anyway, it was a good learning experience for me. The Lord chose not to put me there. I can tell you, since that time, they have had several pastors come and go and the church has not grown at all.

    I do not agree with Dr. Patterson, being fired should have nothing to do with respect for a person.

    I am involved in short term missions to Romania. I do not believe the Lord has called me to go there permanently, but He has burdened me to minister there. We are going over the Thanksgiving holidays to minister in SE Romania. Like Spain, that area is very unreached. It is a very poor part of Romania. It's my third trip there, my wife's fourth, my son's (almost 16) second, and for the first time my daughter (11) will be going with us.

    Continue to seek the Lord. Many of the experiences He is allowing could be showing you that the door is shut. Only you can know. Is the Lord working in the same way in your wife? That is a good indicator as well. My wife is much more discerning than I am.
     
  12. shannonL

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    Dr. Patterson said that in jest. I think he was letting me know that i wasn't the first and wouldn't be the last. Thanks for your interest in my situation my friend. Your right about the wife thing. Fortunately I've been married long enough to know now that there definitely is something to that women's intuition thing. Actually, in a house with 4 ladies and one man I feel quite qualified to impart wisdom concerning make-up,hair products, mall shopping, barbie dolls etc... When your young and wish " I'd love to be surrounded by beautiful women". You never know how that might turn out. Ha! Ha!
    Seriously, God has given me a wonderful wife. We have been married going on 13yrs. now. She is a MK from Central African Republic. She was born out there as well. She is willing to do anything the Lord puts out there for us.
    I will be praying that you have good success in Romania. As well as safety etc.... God bless you brother.
     
  13. TomVols

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    Honestly, I believe this is the wrong question. The question ought not to be "When Should I Leave" but "How Long Can I Stay?"

    A man should remain where he is unless extremely rare circumstances are in place. There is far too much church-hopping and far too much subjectivism and mysticism from our pastors in changing churches. They don't go to a church with a long-term vision. So when the least resistance to change happens, or the natural honeymoon is over, greener pastures begin to appear. Remember: your "greener pasture" was someone else's dried up field [​IMG]

    Only you can discern what is best for your church, your family, and the glory of God. Barring violating Biblical principles that are non-negotiable, or familial needs/concerns, bloom where you are planted.
     
  14. shannonL

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    Good post TomVols. BTW, whats up with the Vols this year? I'm from Asheville, NC. Gotta cousin who is a UT grad. I'm a fan myself.
     
  15. MikeinGhana

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    Brothers, we need to be careful about making blanket statements concerning the will of God and leaving and staying. I agree, there is way too much church hopping. There is way too much flesh in decisions concerning the ministry. That being said, if Paul were a missionary in our circles today we would blast him for never staying in one place very long. He was a man led by th Spirit. The Spirit led him to move. Hard to argue with scripture isn't it? Every man will stand before God to answer for his response to the Spirit's leading. One more thing to remember, God is a longsuffering God. He is not waiting for us to foul up so he can "get us." Brother Shannon, make the decision God leads you to and do not be swayed by insensitive, fallible, uninformed brethren. God will still use for His glory.
     
  16. TomVols

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    Mike,
    Paul was a missionary, not a pastor, so that's a non-sequitur.
    The "Spirit's leading" has, in some circles, turned into such a mystical, goose-bump thing that it has wrecked many ministers and churches. As I said, the brother in this instance alone knows what is best for the church and his family.
     
  17. blackbird

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    I've known of Pastors who's SS was averaging 120----then they "feel the call from God" when they get a chance to go to one runnin' 121!!!! No Joke!!

    Some though are offered quiet sizable steps up---and tell their wives---"Honey! I'll pray---while you pack!!"
     
  18. Mexdeaf

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    ShannonL,

    As a missionary, I think you are right to see if God is closing the door to Spain. The Lord's ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts higher than our thoughts. Perhaps he called you with the intent of putting you through the deputation mill so you might be a more well-rounded and missions-minded pastor.

    I do not know of many missionaries who stay on deputation for 4 or 5 years who make it to the field. Most pastors start to wonder about you after three years. I am pretty sure you have experienced this already.

    BUT, my friend, this is all just my opinion. Seek the face of God. He will always lead you right and open the right doors in whatever direction He is leading if you are humbly following.
     
  19. Brother Ian

    Brother Ian
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    Shannon,

    My in-laws have a house in Maggie Valley. We go there often and love it up there. There is nothing like riding the Blue Ridge.
     

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