EP 138 – WHEN YOUR SEASON OF LEADERSHIP ENDS
Well Bootcampers sometimes your work with a local church can come to an end. And not in a way you prayed for, hoped or expected. When a church chooses to NOT revitalize or replant what are you to do? Listen in as the guys break it down
Here are the highlights
- Evaluate your calling to this church, at this time.
- Consider your season of life and your future – has the Lord granted gifted you to do another turn-around?
- Your role may be to lead a church to the point of decision for its future and then to step back and allow the Church to make its decision.
- If you stay after a church chooses to not move forward, shift your focus toward discipleship.
- If you do leave, do so with grace and love.
Remember the Gospel brother, ministry is difficult, it is hard. If things have come to an end, remember you are not necessarily a failure, you may have been faithful for this season and this time. If you have evaluated your leadership and the Lord has revealed your mistakes, missteps or sin-repent, learn and grow.
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JimBo Stewart: [00:00:00] Here we are back at the boot camp with Jimbo and Bob, not on the road show back in our residential domiciles of St. Louis and Jacksonville. And Bob, you guys are in process of looking at bringing a new member into the big bird house.
Bob Bickford: Yes, Jimbo. We’ve, we’ve been without a dog now, our, a beloved Romeo, who you met. I think
JimBo Stewart: I did it. We didn’t meet Romeo.
Bob Bickford: It’s pretty good dog. He was with us for 11 years and we got him from the shelter and rescued him before that we had a dash and princess. And, we realized that we’ve had a dog in our household, since 1999.
and so we’ve had a few months without, our dog on social media, I put, one of the dogs we’re looking at. And so yesterday, Barbara and I sat down and did a tour through pet. And put it in our criteria. And we realized that she has a type of dog that she likes, which is kind of a black dog with some white markings.
And I tend towards the brown reddish type dogs. [00:01:00] And right now the key, the ones that are in the front running are Jimbo. If you would guess, are they brown or are they black? Which would you do?
JimBo Stewart: I’m going to say the black with the white.
Bob Bickford: Jimbo you win the prize. I’ll send it to you indeed. So though, um, we’ve got, uh, a visitation with the dog. who’s been fostered and, that’s coming up on Sunday afternoon and so we’ve got a few other ones in the mix and she surprised me Jimbo. She said she wanted, she would be open to having three dogs in there.
And I was, I was like, I don’t think so. I’m thinking I’m up for three dogs. maybe two, I know at least one, but maybe two. So, you know,
JimBo Stewart: yeah, You put a picture out on social media and kind of solicited for names,
suggestions, what what’s rising to the top of the name suggestions right
Bob Bickford: Well, since we are Bob and Barre, Bickford, everybody’s selecting are suggesting a name or many people are, a name that begins with B. Right? So, I texted her this morning and said, we could use the, if we start with a [00:02:00] B named, like, I would like to say, you know, whatever the B name is, whether it’s Brutus or Braxton or Bruce or whatever, let’s go with the middle name you listed.
And then our last name Bickford. So it’ll be bub, right? So we can call it right. So. so anyway, she gave me a thumbs up on that. I don’t know. We’ll see. She’s one of those who has to look at the dog to discern its name. I, you know, I don’t know how that works, but, you know, she just says, she feels like she needs to see the dog and think about a name and it’ll just kind of come to her.
So, you know, I’m just looking forward to having a dog back. we’re dog people and a man when she’s, she’s at her a part-time job, it’s pretty quiet. It’s just me here by myself. And so I said to her, I think it’s time to get a dog.
JimBo Stewart: there you go.
Bob Bickford: Yeah.
JimBo Stewart: Well, good. I, I, you know, Bo could be a good name, you know, you could, you can do bow and I would call the dog Jimbo.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, well, whenever whatever dog we end up with, I’ll [00:03:00] put it out on social media. Maybe we’ll invite the dog to be part of a bootcamp podcast future. And, uh, we’ll see.
JimBo Stewart: Absolutely. I love it. So that’s, I mean, look, I, my wife has always said that she is like a dog, grandpa. She likes the idea of dogs and she likes the idea of visiting and cuddling with a dog and then returning it to those who are responsible for it when it gets difficult, like a grandparent with grand babies.
And so, but her friend recently, purchased a multi poo that she’s kind of fallen in love. But then I looked up how much multi poos are and she can be as in love as she wants. Um, but we would have to sell our kidneys in order to buy one.
Bob Bickford: No doubt, man, I’m a shelter dog guy. Like just give me the $40 dog that, is kind of a, kind of a mix of a bunch of different dogs. That’s Hardy. and I’m also, I kind of had [00:04:00]smallish dogs and I always want, you know, when I got older, I was like, we’re getting a big dog. Right. So, and we’ve got, you know, that’s kind of our type of bigger dog with short hair.
You know, I don’t want a dog. I have to take to the groomer, all that.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah.
Bob Bickford: Yeah.
JimBo Stewart: well, I’m excited to see what, what dog ended up getting and, what you ended up naming all three of them you. But today we are here to answer a listener submitted question. and so somebody submitted a question to us, which we love whenever people do that, over Facebook messenger. And they said, what do you do when you fall off the horse? Also known as the chairs decides not to replant or revitalize and chooses or votes to die.
and he said just a thought, it’s not talked about much. And how do you move forward when you’re still called to replant a revitalization of a church? But it’s, but that time has come to an end. And I would say, not only this, this listener, but I’ve had [00:05:00] conversations with a couple other guys, that I know of this week, that their time at a church has come to an end because of, it, it just not wanting to take those steps of replanting or revitalization.
And so really what do you, what do you do when, when a church? I mean, just basically not just an attitude, but expressly says we don’t want.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, we’re not going there. It’s like, it’s like the last episode we did, I’ll do anything for love, but I won’t do that. Right.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. What do you do with that?
Bob Bickford: Yeah. Yeah. We’ll end the relationship. most of the time you break up with a person, right? So, I mean, you just move on,
JimBo Stewart: Yeah.
Bob Bickford: but I, you know, church, we’ve got a calling, we’ve got people, we’ve got to be faithful shepherds and some guys out there probably listening to us are at that spot.
And they’re thinking, man, what do I do? Do I just continue to. Slug it out here and all that. So I, first of all, I think it’s important for us to say this as much as we promote revitalization and replanting. Here’s what we know. The majority of churches that we do consultations with in the churches we do [00:06:00] conferencing with and encourage and evaluate and assess.
Let me just say this and glitz clear the air. The there’s a good number of them who will not choose to revitalize or repeat. Right. They’re just not going to choose it. Right. So some of, some of our friends, some of our bootcampers are in those churches. Right. and so I think this is a great, a great practical question for us.
And, and so I think Jimbo, let’s say if we’re pastoring a church and they say, man, I’ll, I’ll go so far, but I’m, we’re, we’re not doing that. We’re not going to revitalize. We’re not going to replay it. I think the first thing to do is to sit down with the Lord and a mentor. With your spouse and evaluate your calling to that particular church, right.
To say, okay, am I a couple of things? 1:00 AM I, am I called to ministry? Let’s confirm that. Right. And reconfirm that. Cause I think that’s something you have to do over and over again. But then secondarily, I think you have to say, okay, if I am called to ministry, am I called to minister to this church and pastor this church in the next season, after they’ve said.
[00:07:00] Right. Cause I think some guys may have the mission and the calling to lead a church up to a point to the point of decision. And then, and then the church makes the decision. Right. And so sometimes that means you. You need to transition other times, it means you just, okay, roll up your sleeves and you make another runner.
I think a Brian Croft, right? Would he? And he, he led to his church. He led his church, Auburndale to several key moments in the life of the church, a couple of which they said no to. And he faithfully and was patient with them and continue there. And then eventually got, got them to the place where they did some important work and revitalization.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. I mean, I think we have some biblical examples of kind of coming to those crossroads, you know, there, you have Jesus with the rich young ruler where he kind of sets an ultimatum in a sense of, okay, well, this is what it’s going to look like for you moving forward to follow me. And, and they part ways, and that’s. What [00:08:00] happens. Right. And I mean, so many times that we see, if this happened, I mean, one, don’t take it personal. Don’t beat yourself up. Jesus said, if they hate me, how much more are they going to pay you? right. I mean, if the profits, so many of the profits, and the th they’re all tests, profits, we don’t even that happened in the old test we don’t even know about.
Right. and uh, and maybe, maybe because everybody told them no.
Bob Bickford: of them.
JimBo Stewart: So, I mean, if you can walk away alive, that’s, that’s a win, right. And so one recognize success is not on you. you can just be faithful to what God’s called you to do. and then it’s kind of out of your hands at that point. but I think one of the things you do have to decide is, are you called to this church specifically?
Or are you calling. Not to be at that church and pursue replanting and revitalization somewhere else.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, I agree. I think there’s, there, there are planter [00:09:00] types that, you know, plant a church and get it started and then they go on and play another one and another one. Right. And so I think there are, are, there are revitalizes who do the same thing, right. And I think generally, if you look at a five to seven years old, in a person’s life, we have got maybe, and, and bill , who was a retired Methodist pastor.
He used to say this, he would say you probably have in your lifetime, maybe a couple of turnaround churches in you, like where you can lead them to turn because the cost is so extremely high. specifically if a church is starting at like a minus, right? Just, I mean, you were like, Getting in there and you’re discovering crazy things all the time.
And you know, you got unregenerate leaders and you’ve got historic divisions and, you know, et cetera, it’s going to take you awhile and it’s going to cost a lot, right. To rebuild that thing. And so there’s, there’s going to be a point in time. Let’s just say it. The Lord is gracious and the church moves forward, and, and says yes to Jesus and what his will is for the church.
you might be, you might be. [00:10:00] Really excited to do it all over again. Right. And so managing a healthy church to, to like a hardcore replant or revitalize, or it looks kind of boring. Right. So they like want to go fix something. but I think, I think it’s not, the lifelong calling to one congregation is pretty rare.
I think, I just don’t see that as much as I have, in, you know, you just don’t see that, like there’s, there’s several guys, there’s a guy here in St. Louis. last Sunday after 28 years. And I’ve got another friend who’s really, uh, he’s relatively up here. and he was on the mission field. He came back and he planted a church and he’s been there 20 plus years.
Right. And he’s, he’s probably not thinking of he’s. He told me that day, he’s like, you know, I’m not going to go anywhere else, but, um, I’m thinking about how I can set this up for somebody else. And so I would just say some of us, and I’ve served like four or five different churches in my lifetime, and each of them were, I believe specifically.
On my life for that specific church for that specific season. And so some of us may have a call that moves us around a little bit. and so just sit with that brother [00:11:00] and, and think about it as did you learn, there’s some things did you grow, did you make some mistakes, you know, reflect upon that and think about, that experience and then think about what kind of place God is birthed in your heart.
Look, what’s the passion, these births in your heart for the future for ministry.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, I think there could be a temptation in that to put all the blame, either on yourself or on the church, right. You
Bob Bickford: Yeah.
JimBo Stewart: guys are going to be tempted to either go, this is all my fault. I’m a failure. I screwed this up, or those guys are just unregenerate and they don’t even love Jesus. And, nobody could lead them.
And in the truth is, is maybe somewhere in the middle. you know, maybe. Maybe, maybe it is all your fault, but even if it is even if, even if it’s all your fault and you messed this up, the Lord is in control enough that you can’t screw up his plans. and so don’t, it’s not going to do you any. To sit here and wallow, right?
[00:12:00] So it’s one thing and it’s wise to evaluate what could, I’ve done better? How can I grow from this? What can I learn moving forward? What’s an entire, totally different thing to just beat yourself up about it.
Bob Bickford: So much of ministry for us, we, we feel the complete burden of it. Right. And we feel like it’s all up to us and, and that’s just not biblically true. Right. And, and so I think we, we’ve got to understand that and sometimes it takes. failure in a place, what we might call a failure. Like we didn’t see in the failures, this, that we didn’t, we did not realize what we had hoped to realize in that location.
and so for us, that’s our definition of what success was like, if I was successful here, I would have seen this vision. This would have happened. Right. Well, I think we got to pull back from that and say, what, first of all, what does the Lord want to have. In this location, right. And you want to think about that with others so that you’re not just the sole single source of vision, right?
You want to have that confirmed and affirmed by other people that, you know, [00:13:00] the vision you’re pursuing is from the Lord. But then you also have to understand that together, if your church has moved, moved forward in towards that vision, to the point to where there’s a decision to make, and they vote against that decision, then your, your success was getting them to that point of this.
Right. I think about a church that, uh, was a church that we did a consultation, for, and they were a historic church that were probably, you know, down to 40, they were meeting in about 600 seat auditorium and they moved downstairs. So their fellowship hall they’d call that a really good pastor. I mean, he was just, uh, he loved them.
Well, he was a good preacher. and they realized w w our best option. And this is what we consulted with them. The best option for them was to merge with another. And I’m in a church plant and they, you know, there was a partner that was already identified. They’d already worshiped with them a couple of times over the course of the last couple of years, but there was a resistance that rose up in a few inside of that church that [00:14:00] ultimately, you know, did some campaigning and did some relational networking and they, held back the, the vote and they, didn’t achieve the super majority they needed.
So they lost by six votes. Right. And so that pastor then, you know, experienced this, all of the people who voted for joining with that church plant left and went to the church plant. So their 40 was now down to 20 and then the next week, here’s what they told him. because we’re down to 20, we’re going to have to pay you.
And, you’re going to have to move from full-time to part-time and are gonna have to cut benefits. All right. So he’s off, man. I was faithfully leading this congregation forward and we got them to the decision point. And now this like, I mean, and so graciously, there were some people who stepped up and funded him until he could find another place to go.
But looking back his role in that congregation was to lead them to that point. Right. You can’t obey for somebody. Right. You can only be obedient for you. So when my heart breaks for that brother, I think ultimately [00:15:00] he can look at it as a success cause the people who wanted to move forward, move forward on with the other church that they were talking about merging and the people who didn’t want to do anything, Jimbo, they’re still meeting in that building.
They, they meet in the fellowship hall now, but there’s about 20 people and they’ve got an interim pastor and they’re, you know, they, they made the decision and, it is what.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, I think you got to weigh those things out and you got to, if you’re going to leave do so with grace. and I would even say if, if. If you’ve come to the conclusion that God has called you to go. If, if you get, sometimes you don’t get to make the decision. Sometimes the committee can set decision for you,
Bob Bickford: the finance was that. Yeah.
JimBo Stewart: Maybe it may be a whole nother episode on that, but if you’re going, Hey, I think it’s time for me to part ways they’ve put it for a vote. Even like we’ve, we’ve literally said here’s what revitalization is going to look like. Let’s vote on it. And. And they vote. No. And you decide because of that, it’s time for you to go, which I don’t necessarily think it means that.
And before we run out of time, I want to talk about what to do [00:16:00] if you decide to stay. But if you start to go, one, you got to entrust them to the Lord. And then too, I think it’d be wise to work within whatever your network of churches is. Whether that’s an association, state, convention, or just a handful of churches in your area or, or whatever.
If you have some network of churches within Southern Baptist life, you probably have an association or at least a state convention, try to set them up with an intentional interim. Like schedule a meeting with your leader of that network or somebody in that network. And just tell them the situation and say, is there a, an interim that is good at going into situations like this, that that can go in knowing he’s temporary and can maybe help them.
Right. So that’s, if you’re gonna leave, if you’re going to stay there, Maybe change the move, the goal. From revitalization to just plain old clear discipleship. And what I mean is the end of this may not [00:17:00] be any numerical increase at all. And if God’s called you to stay, one of the reasons that a church is going to say no to revitalization is they don’t want anything to change.
The reason they don’t want anything to change is because they have valued their way of doing things. Over there. That God has given them to be a member of a body of Christ that glorifies him by making disciples. And so maybe step one, isn’t for you to figure out what to change in the culture of the church, but how to change the hearts of the members.
And that’s likely not going to be done in a very efficient way. and so we’ve got to move away from efficiency here, and we’ve got to lean into the messiness of incarnational discipleship and. Prayerfully ask the Lord to help you identify two or three people that you could really start pouring into and just engaging with the word of God and in a discipleship way [00:18:00] to help them grow in unity.
and love and maturity, those, those kind of biblical markers of success and a church. And as they grow, as they repent, as they have holy discontent and where they’re at, that’s what you’ve got to get them there. You’ve got you. Can’t you. cannot revitalize a church without holy discontent. You can change the numbers, but you cannot revitalize the health of a church without conviction and repentance.
Bob Bickford: That’s so good. and I think that the key there is really seeking the Lord. In getting a word from him on his, is it time to indeed go or is it time to just make another run at it, but with a different focus. Right. And, the discipleship focus is really key as you were describing that. I was thinking about the times when Jesus would be frustrated with his disciples and he would say this and to the people that he was teaching.
How long must I put up with you? Like you faithless generation, like. [00:19:00] You know, and can you imagine, I mean, the Lord is fully human and fully divine in the frustration he had was like, I’m setting this right before you, the kingdom of God is at hand right here you go guys, like this, get this right. And then they would make some.
Comment or, you know, not responded faith or reject him. And then he just like how, how long? Right. I, but I think that’s an honest question. Right? And so I would just encourage somebody to say how long now here’s what I would also say. it was in North Carolina for a, an event. Great. Saw, triple H happy huggy Hallock, Walker, Caitlin coach, David Jackson, Clifton.
some of our good North Carolina friends were all there.
All-star lineup, It was great. And we had, we had a blast, man, Lebanon Baptist church has killed it with Matt Smith and, and, uh, Nick Decker, man. They just, they just killing it up there. Fantastic conference. Um, but I met a guy, my breakout and we sat down and he, he just said, you know, I’m trying to evaluate, how long do I stay here?
Because this church has said no to. Some moves [00:20:00] to, to revitalize. They’ve said no to some things that would help it move forward. And he goes, I’m, I’m just trying to figure out how long I should stay. Right. So, you know, he explained it to me. And then I just asked him this question, which we often ask guys that are in that situation.
I said, this, what does your wife say? Right. So when I asked him that question, he said, she told me she’s ready to leave. Right. And, uh, it was. Okay, well then I think you really need to take that into consideration.
Right? And so. You know that the health of your marriage and the wisdom of your wife and the emotional condition of your wife are really some things to take into account as you’re seeking the Lord.
And oftentimes the Lord will speak through your spouse. So if we’ve got guys out there that are, you know, you’ve run into a big, no, and you’ve run into a vote that didn’t go your way, give before the Lord, but also just ask your wife, what, what her thoughts.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. I think, the Lord often uses our wives to bring clarity to [00:21:00] us and speak to us. Like this is a tough situation and, we’re often pretty lighthearted on this podcast, but this is hard, man. And for a lot of guys, this is a very tough reality. Where they have been fired or they’ve had to walk away.
And it’s hard not to look back on that and think that you have failed. You’ve let, you’ve let God down. You’ve let that church down. And that’s the beauty of the gospel is that there’s no condemnation for those who. Who are in Christ. Jesus. We all make mistakes and yes, there are consequences. And yes, we have been entrusted with a pretty heavy responsibility to steward the bride of Christ.
And we should take that very seriously and we should repent. If we see that we have. Not falling short on necessarily skill, but we have sinned if we’ve been lazy, but it’s falling short on your skill and your competency versus your, your morality, your sin, [00:22:00] or it’s two different things. And if it’s because of your sin, that’s repentance, that’s needed.
If it’s because of your skill. Then it’s just growth and, and that’s part of what God has given you to help you grow. And that may be the very reason that God had had you have that season there so that you could grow in your sanctification.
Bob Bickford: Absolutely. I love the quote from Jeff origin. I don’t have it memorized, but in essence, here’s what he says is sometimes the look sometimes that we failed to realize that the Lord is calling us to a work, not to do a major work through us, but to do a major work in us. And so what I would say is be shaped by be shaped by the difficult Mr.
Context, because it will prepare you for what the Lord has for you in the future.
JimBo Stewart: That’s good. That’s a good word tune back in next week to meet the new Bickford dog and see who that is. Hey, go, go register for replant summit, replant summit.com. You’ll have me and Bob there. [00:23:00] just hanging out, but speaking we’ll have. Clifton and happy huggy, Halleck and men Lee and Jordan Rainer and Frank Lewis and a bunch of other guys doing stuff.
And even some break Brian Croft and we’ll have some breakout sessions that are really good. All that information email@example.com.