A Young Minister’s Heartbreak

By Darrel Rowland

At 38, Jon Weece, senior pastor of Southland Christian Christ in Lexington, Kentucky, is one of the younger leaders of our megachurches. But listen to him speak his heart with the wisdom of years on why long-term ministries can be so difficult:

 

I fear what our limited metrics do to many faithful servants in the kingdom. For those servant leaders who are experiencing explosive numeric growth in the ministries they’ve been entrusted with, I fear a loss of humility may visit their hearts. For those servant leaders who are not experiencing explosive numeric growth in the ministries they’ve been entrusted with, I fear a loss of confidence may visit their hearts.

Both outcomes are resourced by the enemy and threaten the vitality of the gospel and the mission of the church. All leaders are followers first. And all followers lead with a basin of water in one hand and a towel in the other. And there’s no way to wash thousands of feet at the same time. Only God can bring the increase. Only God can multiply the efforts of one surrendered follower entrusted with leadership.

Fatigue and discouragement are pressing issues among leaders I interact with. And I think that is what lies beneath the surface of so many “older” leaders settling for security in their later years. And to make matters worse, the enemy has created so much resentment among the different generations (primarily/sadly over methodology). But in order for there to be long-term effectiveness in ministry, we need a unified multigenerational approach. We need the vigor and passion of the next generation coupled with the wisdom and patience of the experienced generation in order to reclaim lost spiritual territory. And that is not happening in the current leadership landscape as often as I would like to see.

For as much research and writing that has been done in an attempt to help all generations understand one another, it hasn’t been as helpful pragmatically as we would like it to be. Love and humility are the answers. “Love never fails.” Ever. One day I’ll talk to youth ministers who are so frustrated with senior pastors, and the next day I’ll talk to senior pastors who are so fed up with youth ministers (worship leaders too!), and what’s lacking in the conversation is love.

So many men and women jumped feet first into ministry for the right reasons, but they’ve had to spend the majority of their lives fighting battles they never thought they would have to fight. Countless hours of sleep lost because of a power struggle within the eldership or a prominent family threatening to leave the church, or the youth minister is more popular. And those examples are just the beginning.

And when they took a stand for the right thing, what happened? They got fired. They had to uproot their family. They had to take a ministry in another dead-end church because they had to provide. It’s a vicious cycle and a very common cycle. And when it comes time to take a break, to retire, there’s nothing to show for it, other than a bunch of bruises and scars and resentment.

My heart aches for the church leaders who are dying on the vine because they’re afraid to admit their struggles to a brother in Christ for fear of it being seen as weakness. Pornography, workaholism, and debt are killing marriages and ministries at a pandemic rate! I don’t have easy answers to all of it. I just know we’re not carrying each other’s burdens enough.

You Might Also Like

4 Comments

  1. chris bacus
    June 20, 2012 at 11:21 am

    Thanks for posting Jon W’s essay. I deeply appreciate what he wrote.

    I must say that, when I read the issue dealing with long ministries, I found a deep sense of discouragement entering my mind — and I’m in a positive, hopeful, growing ministry. But I have been serving with my current congregation for 28 years, and the words I read just naturally raised questions of adequacy in me. Of course, I know that that was not the intent behind the issue, but it happened just the same. I also found myself hoping that the regular readers of CS in my congregation would somehow find themselves too busy to find time for this issue. 🙂

    So thank you for the “hard truths” that may be found in the “long ministry” issue. But thank-you-times-two for posting this essay.

  2. Shirley Thompson
    June 22, 2012 at 7:50 am

    I found the article enlightening because I am a missionary returning to the U.S. after 13 years overseas. As my husband and I have begun contacting churches seeking work, responses have been puzzling . We have spent the past years in basic pre-evangelism and one-on-one evangelism with very small groups. So to see big churches struggling with money and staff lay-offs seems odd. Yet in all of it, I know there are many factors.
    One concern I have is for our senior servants. This business of security is no joke. How can our non-denominational brotherhood ease that fear for veteran ministers and their families? The younger pastors will all be there someday. I know many churches are generous with thier retired minister however, what about those not quite ready to retire but they are not seen to be as current as their younger conterparts? I think it’s a shame if they must waste talent on insurance sales.

  3. June 22, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    Jon Weece follows in the very large footsteps of his father and has followed a thriving long-time ministry by Wayne Smith. But “the ministry” is not apostolic. The early church, so far as is known, had no professional “ministers.” The teaching was the responsibility of elders as soon as evangelists could move on to other fields. What scriptural reason does any church have for hiring a “pastor” who is not one of their own elders? And every Christian is charged with the duty of telling others about Jesus. Must we hire a “pastor” to evangelize and teach Christians? Jon speaks of hired servants of the churches. Roy Weece was an outstanding example of an evangelist who sought to win the lost when he was employed by a church and when he was not so employed. Jon is doing well and serving well indeed in a large-church ministry. He is rightly concerned because he knows brothers who are discouraged and lacking financial support. As Christians, surely we should provide for the needy in our churches. Particularly those full-time evangelists who now are in need. And shouldn’t we make it easy for every member to seek and to save the lost?

  4. Mike
    September 12, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    I stumbled upon this website due to the fact that I was searching under the heading of the question of whether or not were there professional ministers in the early church. I read a lengthy email sent to me several years ago and I will sum it up. Basically a teacher in a christian based ministry school read someone’s assessment of the emphasis taken on by the church over the centuries it basically showed the church’s movement from a body of believers to a business type of structure. One of the students asked a question that astonished every one. She asked, “When you take a body and make it a business, isn’t that a prostitute?’ What do you think? I think we were better off a body of believers and a family. The family of God was God’s idea both with the first Adam and the second Adam. God likes families and the moment we stop treating each other like family, we have missed it. We missed it a long time ago. Blessings

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe for Free!

Subscribe to gain free access to all of our digital content,
including our new digital magazine,
and we'll let you know when new digital issues are ready to view!