Well, it’s time for my annual post on ET. As patterns hold, my posts are decreasing in frequency (longer than 12 months between posts) and in quality. Today I’d like to ask a simple but perplexing question. How do you know when it’s time to leave a church as a teaching pastor? Before anyone from our church reads this and sends frantic emails – I’m not planning on leaving, I’m just asking a question.
I ask simply because I’m on the downhill side of 5 years in the pulpit. It’s much different here than I anticipated. And I’ve had “feelings” of doubt about effectiveness and impact. At those moments I’ve asked, “Is is time to leave?” At those moments I remember the many friends, some of significant ministry status and expositors of the finest order, who have said to me upon leaving a church, “It was time for me to go” or “God was done with me there” or “God told me to go.” Yet as I sit here, having returned from T4G and heard this comment from other pastor-teachers, I am still at a loss for how precisely to know this. In each of the cases where I’ve had the courage to ask these dear brothers how they know God is saying go, the answer I get is less than helpful. To put it more bluntly, I do not think they would apply the same birth to someone leaving their church with the same “feelings” rational.
Qualifier: There was not issue of sin or failure to put food on the table or some massive dividing issue. From a reasonable perspective, everything looked pretty good at the church and leaving seemed not needed.
My post was accelerated by this video which I ran across today. View at your own discretion. Francis Chan
So I ask you brother-pastor (HT to Mark Dever for that phrase), how do you know, if at all, when God is moving you on? And how to we interact with those who offer these perspectives (esp. if we think the decision is not a wise or biblically founded one)?