Is it time to leave your ministry context? Or to simply take a nap?

i-quit

This graduating class of seniors marks the end of my 7th school year here at Marin Covenant Church. It has been an amazing ride, and I have been honored to be blessed by being on such a dynamic staff team and doing ministry in such a complex setting. As I wind up this school year I have started to do some reflecting on some possible next steps for me and for this ministry. The truth is; I am tired.

15 years of student ministry has taken its toll. The way in which I can do ministry in my late 30's with two little kids is significantly different then the good 'ol days when my wife and I were partners in all things, idealistic, and ready to take anything on for the glory of God. While I am still ready to take anything on for the glory of God, my wife is a full time mom and part time employee, and my idealism has taken a little bit of a hit.

So what in the world is next? Here is what I have concluded so far:

  • I do not want to be a lead pastor, solo pastor, or church planter.
  • I do enjoy teaching and writing.
  • I do not want to go back to school and get my Ph.D.
  • I love student ministry with all my heart. ( I am just tired)
  • I love Marin Covenant as both my church community and place of employment.
  • I don't want to just take up space.

As I have talked with friends and wrestled with God I have realized that the recurring theme is simply that I am tired. I don't know if you can resonate with this, but student ministry is demanding and taxing on the body and soul. And being tired physically and spiritually is overwhelming. In my first context I misread being tired with God calling me out of student ministry, and even out of a church context. Reflecting back, I was just tired and in need of refreshment.

Being tired is not a good reason to leave a ministry context

It is crazy how we think because we are tired and dry that a new context with new students will bring us new life. The thought of starting all over with student and their parents is just awful. Instead of giving up the 7 years of street cred and trying to build a new program and make hundreds of new relationships, maybe there is a better way.

Instead of trying to start new somewhere else with all the fresh, extroverted, and engaging parts of my personality firing on all cylinders, what if i simply do what I would do in my first 6 months in a new context and do them in my current one. Except with starting from scratch rationally, I can now leverage these relationships.

Instead of starting over in a new context, start over here!

I admit it is a little bit of some mental trickery, but I am pretty sure that the results will be similar. You know when you show up brand new to a church, you take their atrophied program and infuse it with fun and life and grow the group. But after a few years the momentum slips and you end up simply maintaining. I know that if a brand new person showed up they would instantly grow my group by 20%. I could instantly grow my group by 20% is I showed up fresh. So why not simply show up fresh?

This fall I am pretending I am brand new and am going to approach my current 7 year old ministry as if it was year 1 and I have something to prove, am idealistic, and will do all things for the glory of God. I look forward to seeing what God has for me in this next season and thankful that he is not quite done with me in student ministry or at Marin Covenant Church.

Man, I love student ministry!

How can you tell when you are done in a context? What do you do to stay refreshed? How do you not let cynicism take over idealism?