We all have failings and failures. Even pastors. Try not to look so shocked.
In 30+ years of active ministry, and through four churches I've pastored, I truly believe I have exhibited nearly every possible pastoral failing there is. So I thought I'd initiate a recurring feature on the Desperate Pastor blog, confessing those failings and (I hope) by doing so, encourage other pastors not to feel alone and not to make the same mistakes. Or not to make them again.
So here's number one. Many years ago, I read a statement by Rick Warren (I think in his book, The Purpose-Driven Church, but I could be wrong about that...among other things) that a pastor and preacher needs to cast vision every ninety days or less, or it will "leak." Maybe it was Bill Hybels, or maybe both. But SOMEONE said it.
My reaction over the years was, generally, "yeah, right." I mean, planning and executing a Spirit-driven preaching schedule is intimidating enough. There are of course all the special days (Easter, Christmas, etc.), and so many important emphases (prayer, outreach, etc.) to include in a year's time. Plus, I tried to include two or three book-of-the Bible series every year, as well as series that addressed the church's needs-of-the-moment. There were never enough Sundays in a year to thoroughly respond to what the Spirit was saying, accomplish intentional discipleship, emphasize communion, baptisms, child dedications, etc., and so on. So it always seemed that casting vision anew every ninety days was just too tough to squeeze in.
Wrong. It's so easy for vision to leak out, and for church folk to lapse into old habits, preferences, and expectations. A clear vision can even disappear among a church's membership--and even its leadership! So much so, maybe Rick (or Bill or whoever) was low-balling it. Not that a full-blown vision SERIES is called for every ninety days, and maybe not even a full message devoted solely to the church's vision. But looking back on thirty years and four churches, I would do AT LEAST that much.
That was one of my failings as a pastor and leader. I often had a clear vision of what I truly believed God wanted the church to be, and where he was calling us to go. But I failed to communicate it regularly enough that people couldn't help but hold onto it. Lord, have mercy.