The more I connect with pastors and leaders across the United
States the more I am seeing a group fatigue in the ranks. This fatigue is not from busy schedules or
stress-filled encounters with difficult people. This fatigue comes from a
subtle resignation that says, “Is this all there is?”
This fatigue can deepen when the only leadership event on
the horizon is the promise of another conference where the latest popular
speaker is on tap or another training module is offered where we can learn a
new skill. There is nothing wrong with good speakers and new skills sets, but
they can’t make tired and fatigued leaders feel alive again.
After three decades of leading within the Church, I find a
lot of what is promoted on the leadership landscape to be quite boring. As I talk with pastors and leaders in the
Church about what is being offered, I hear their exhausted exhale that says,
What would happen in the next season if our goal were simply
to experience an encounter with God? The Bible is filled with these encounter
stories. All biblical turning points had
Many of the people, who have left some of our churches in
this last season, if asked, would say, “Where was the encounter?” Years ago a wise leader named Roger Whitlow
said to a group of us young pastors-in-training, “You are just a lead
sheep.” My translation of Roger’s words
would read, “You might consider yourself a leader, but you should never forget
you are also one of the sheep.” What is boring you as a leader is also boring
the people you serve. We all need a fresh encounter with God before we can make
plans for a new season. The encounter must precede the plan.
What would happen if our churches and leaders got passionate
for a fresh encounter with God and that pursuit became their sole reason for
existence? We have become so
purpose-principle-product driven that a sense of passion has left some of our
spiritual communities. What would happen in this coming new season if our
conferences and gatherings could be weighted on the side of an encounter with
God where the Spirit is free to speak to us like He did in Acts 13 where the
modern missions movement was birthed?
Many people in the Church feel like they are standing on a
spinning compass rose wondering which way to go. It’s never about direction – it’s always
about Presence. Direction has to follow
an experience with Presence or we will end up with another stale promise.
To lead the Church into the next season will require people
who seek His presence above all else. This quest may violate corporate protocol
and existing systems and could even make the managers in our midst
uncomfortable, but the price must be paid if the Church and its current
leadership are to feel fresh once again.
What would happen if in our next large conference gathering
we politely canceled our speakers and simply paid them their honorariums and
had them sit down among us and enjoy some rest in the Presence? What would
happen if we canceled our skill-producing workshops and learned again how to
rest and simply receive? What would happen if we told our worship teams to take
us into His presence with liberty and continue to worship until the Lord spoke?
What would happen if we could publicly declare we simply need a fresh
encounter with the living God?
I think I know part of that answer. There would be a new freshness of heart and
spirit that would turn our exhale of fatigue into a song of praise and hope. That
would not be boring or predictable.