One of the most painful experiences a pastor can face is being fired. Most who endure this level of pain after they move their family, commit their life to a community, and labor to minister to those people in the church…do not survive. The rate of young men having one bad church experience and bailing on this “ministry thing” is staggering. Most evaluate their one experience and say, “I’m not going through that again.” However, there are a few gluttons for punishment out there; a few young men who are willing to endure rough church situations; a few men who refuse to quit. Yet, even some of these men stick with it not because of their resolve to serve Christ, but refuse to learn from the mistakes of the past.
Because of this ever-present reality, I have for you a most compelling story. My dear friend, Kyle McClellan, has been there, done that, bought the T-shirt, and bears some pretty deep scars as a result. As his story will reveal, Kyle came out of seminary celebrated as a most gifted man and was told by everyone in his life he would conquer the world for Jesus. But pastoring four churches in ten years left Kyle beaten, battered, and asking all sorts of questions. With a very blunt, transparency Kyle shares about his journey. It is a journey I have watched, prayed about with tears, and been involved with at different stages throughout the years. The testimony of God’s grace runs deep within it as Kyle is not only serving now as a faithful pastor to a congregation that loves him, but most importantly Kyle is a more humble, godly man on the other side. I commend Kyle and his story to you, his painful lessons learned, and trust regardless where you are as a pastor in your particular situation, you will learn from Kyle’s lessons and will be encouraged on how Christ even shows his mercy in the failures of his undershepherds.
Here is a portion of the first of two articles I asked Kyle to write to capture his story:
I wish my story was unique. Sadly, it’s not. There are too many young guys, fresh out of seminary, who are getting bludgeoned in local church ministry. The concern of the folks at Practical Shepherding, and my reason for writing, is that lots of dudes think they are totally blameless in this process. Sure, they may say different, but deep down they are indignant at God for calling them to churches that would not respect or submit to their giftedness. It’s not really their fault – it’s the pastor who preceded them who wouldn’t know exposition if it bit him in the keister. It’s the good-old-boy deacon board, or the church diva whose husband needs to man up and put a muzzle on her.
There’s no use denying that there are unhealthy churches out there – or that some churches would be of highest use to the Kingdom by closing their doors. That, however, is beyond the scope of my concern here. My concern is that we learn from our mistakes, quit blaming others for everything and move forward in a way that demonstrates God’s grace to His people. Take the attitude of an athlete watching game tape: I messed up. Mea Culpa. I’ll learn, correct the mistake and (by God’s grace) do better next time.
Read the rest of Kyle’s first article in full here:
Part 2 coming soon…