Dear Pastors, be encouraged by the openness we have at MPI to let you know that even during our largest events and highest mountain tops- God is always shaking out of our church those who hinder the movement.
Oftentimes, as I wrote in my book, “Discipleship Based Churches,” social media is only used by churches/pastors to tell half the story (the good/easy side of ministry). You are not alone and all good churches will need to have seasons of pruning (see John 15). Here are some helpful steps to successfully navigate through them:
- Do not try to manipulate people to stay, as a matter of fact, do what Jesus did and make bold calls to everyone, “Do you want to leave also?“
- Do not let bitterness come in your heart- messy people are always going to be messy. Forgive them and move on (F.E.M.O).
- Make protocols and systems that keep everything short and to the point- no need for extended times of deliberation. High turnover is not always bad- sometimes it is good because a sign of a lukewarm church is keeping the wrong people around for longer than you should. It is funny that even in the little bit of meetings we have with those leaving they think we are doing it to keep them around when in actuality we are trying to spare them the wilderness that awaits them. For most never truly think through their decision, they have no good church lined up to bring their family to, nothing to replace their discipleship, etc. Our meetings are actually a mercy, but if they refuse let them go because God knows how to deal with His own (if they truly belong to Him).
- Get ready for growth. Every time our church has gone through a shaking a great awakening comes. It is so true that now those who have been with us for a while actually get excited when the pruning comes. Not because they are not saddened by the losses but because God’s Spirit moving the church forward overcomes all sense of hurt. Most of my greatest leaders came directly after a pruning season.
- Count disciples not attendees. 99.99% of the time pruning will deal with those who have never been leaders in the church or if they were they were unfruitful. They were the kind of people you love- but don’t want people to imitate. God is doing you a favor and removing the bad example from your midst. For example, our church has a discipleship process that can be completed in 8 months to 1yr—- however most of the people that always get pruned from our church never even get halfway through it in 2-3yrs! Let’s rejoice that God is making room for those who actually want to do what God called you to do. Likewise, when I have lost leaders generally they were ineffective at doing what were called to do. They were not making new disciples but just simply going through the motions. And as you know, a good church is not built on anything less than true disciples of Christ.
- Lastly, trust God. Those He wants there, can’t leave and those who are needing to leave, can’t stay. In other words, don’t walk on eggshells or be timid in moving forward. Because those who are truly called to your ministry will not be easily shaken- they are the opposite of the weak ones; they are strong and willing to stay until God’s plan has been accomplished. Think of Jesus’s remaining 11, sure they had challenges, but they literally had nowhere else to go- they knew the best place for them was in the perfect, will of God!
Hope that blesses my pastor friends- have a great day, God is with you!
Philippians 2:12, “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”