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Ukulelemike

When Does One Say, "enough"?

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Currently, my church is primarily comprised of:

 

My wife and myself

 

One good, 'normal' man

 

A mother and her adult son, neither of whom 'gets' anything anymore, (and he recently lambasted me because he thinks my wife acts better than the rest of the church, and virtually threatened her, he thinks I'm slacking as a pastor becusse he doesn't understand my preaching, and then carried on a tirade against WalMart, and various other things-basically, my wife, a nursing home nurse, believes he is suffering from classical beginnings of dementia).

 

a couple who shows up MOST Sunday mornings, never evenings, but it takes very little to get them out, any special event, any invitation to anything.

 

and a family who pops in maybe every three weeks for a mid-week service.

 

That's it. Last sunday only the first guy on the list came. The 'son' mentioned above said they weren't coming because he was "too pi&&ed off to come", the couple had to pick up someone in Reno, and the others were prOBably out wood cutting, which they do every Sunday.

 

As you can imagine, my levels of encouragement haven't been high of late.

 

So, to those preachers and pastors out there, at what point does one say, "Enough" and step down? Not to say that at some point I couldn't take up the mantle again, should things improve in the area, but the place is dying, and I'm not sure that I see it ever getting better.

 

Sadly, the preachers I have most trusted in my life for advice in the ministry have since passed on to glory, so in many ways, I'm kind of alone out here, in that sense.

 

I am hungry for fellowship with believers, face to face hungry to sit under teaching, and there are some good churches not too far away we could attend, and it is a temptation, but I always believed that, as long as there was one person, I would stay. And that, if I gave the Lord the latitutde to bring them to His house, He would.

 

But we invite, and we teach truth and we pass tracts, but nothing.  I admit to being tired, feeling like I am beating my head against a wall that refuses to yield. I keep thinking of the verse: 

    Gal 6:9 "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."

Is my "due season" to be after this life?

 

Thoughts?

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Never say "enough" until God says enough. What God opens, no man shuts. If He called you to pastor, then pastor until He calls you out of that position. I remember years ago, one winter Sunday. I was the only one who showed up for morning service. More than eighty members stayed home, who were usually faithful. I could have closed the doors and went home.

But I stayed.

And preached the message I had prepared... to myself.

Funny thing, it was on a rebellious people walking in the wilderness of Zin. But i preached as if all the members were in attendance that day. And though none were there to receive the Word , it spoke to my heart that chilly morning. It caused me to realize that, our hearts are frail and our flesh is weak. Our flesh will get weaker when we focus on what , or who, did not show up rather than Who we brought with us.

Stay the course.

Edited by Standing Firm In Christ

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If you are tired - and remember Jesus took time apart on several occasions - maybe tell everyone you need a break for a month and go to one of those nearby churches.
Give plenty of notice - announce it for a month before, and make it plain that it is not the end, just a refresh for you, and encourage them to go to one of the nearby churches (preferably not the one you intend to go to. ;) )

Everyone needs a break and if you are anything like most pastors I know, it will be a few years since you took a holiday - a real holiday that didn't involve going to some special meetings somewhere and/ or preaching for other churches.......

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If you are tired - and remember Jesus took time apart on several occasions - maybe tell everyone you need a break for a month and go to one of those nearby churches.
Give plenty of notice - announce it for a month before, and make it plain that it is not the end, just a refresh for you, and encourage them to go to one of the nearby churches (preferably not the one you intend to go to. ;) )

Everyone needs a break and if you are anything like most pastors I know, it will be a few years since you took a holiday - a real holiday that didn't involve going to some special meetings somewhere and/ or preaching for other churches......

My last holiday was, in fact, my honeymoon, in 11/2003, so yeah, its been a bit. Though honestly I do find the meetings refreshing-I really get great comfort from sitting under good preaching. But its been I think four years since I was able to attend one of those.

 

Never say "enough" until God says enough. What God opens, no man shuts. If He called you to pastor, then pastor until He calls you out of that position. I remember years ago, one winter Sunday. I was the only one who showed up for morning service. More than eighty members stayed home, who were usually faithful. I could have closed the doors and went home.

But I stayed.

And preached the message I had prepared... to myself.

Funny thing, it was on a rebellious people walking in the wilderness of Zin. But i preached as if all the members were in attendance that day. And though none were there to receive the Word , it spoke to my heart that chilly morning. It caused me to realize that, our hearts are frail and our flesh is weak. Our flesh will get weaker when we focus on what , or who, did not show up rather than Who we brought with us.

Stay the course.

I appreciate that, but then, these were people who were, by your word, usually faithful. We are dealing with good weather, poor weather, doesn't matter. However, I agree that we don't quit until God says to quit., But that being said, how does one know when its time to quit? Many would have taken the loss of the building as a sign to quit, but I have stayed on. Some would say, When you have no more faithful members-that's pretty much where I am. But is this quitting time?

 

I have considered just straight-up taking it to the church as a whole-call a special meeting, to which most will attend, and just lay it on the line-they are the church, after all, and if they no longer want to be the church, I will lay it upon them to decide.

 

But then I think, "If there is just ONE person who wants to be there, ONE person who is faithful, (and there is), then maybe the end is not yet.

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The fact that you are questioning 'but is this quitting time?" tells me, that in your heart you don't want to quit. Perhaps Dave is right, some time off, a couple weeks away. If you quit, something tells me you will feel miserable.

Oh, I absolutely would feel miserable. I can't see NOT doing it. But how I feel isn't necessarily what the Lord wants. Just been praying for something to encourage me, to let me know, "Yes, keep going", and yet, it seems instead to get worse, so it make me think, maybe that's my answer.

 

Either way prOBably not stopping just yet, just looking toward the future, wondering what, if anything, would be the 'telling sign', to bring it to a close.

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Just my 2¢...

 

What I will say is from my own personal experience and feelings, though I'll spare all the details. If it applies to your situation or can be applied...I don't know.

 

All I had ever wanted was to be in full-time Christian service...it's what I ate, lived, and breathed. I made several steps to make that dream come true, because from what I knew...that's what "ministries" expected.

 

Joined a big church (an hour away) with all kinds of ministries, got a Bible College degree, made myself available to do whatever I could do, rubbed shoulders with a few big names in IFB'dom...and it was all for naught...none of that mattered unless I was willing to be one of the pastor's yes-men and boot-lickers....just to be blunt.

 

It wasn't until I realized that I was doing those things for...ME...that things started to change. I was doing what other men expected me to do. I was doing all of these things for myself and others...trying to attain something (a goal or dream) for myself...and I wasn't doing it for the only one who mattered...the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh, I hid behind "I'm doing this for the Lord.", but the truth of the matter was, I was doing it for myself.

 

I gave up what I wanted. I gave up trying to fulfill the expectations of others. I gave up trying to impress other men hoping they might "give me a shot". I was trying to force the Lord to fulfill my wants and desires...

 

I had to ask myself a few questions, and I had to answer them honestly.

 

Am I doing all of this for the Lord? No, I'm doing it for myself (and others).

Am I trying to meet man's expectations or the Lord's? Man's.

Am I expecting things from others? Yes.

Am I seeking man's approval or the Lord's? Man's.

Am I trying to impress man or the Lord? Man.

Am I experiencing joy and peace doing all of these things? No.

 

Dear Lord...please...PLEASE...PLEASE forgive me...

 

After I reached that point, things changed. I gave up on all of it. I don't mean this to sound bad, but I could care less if I am ever in full-time service. If the Lord would allow it, I would be thankful to have just a few people to start a church with. I would be happy to preach and teach those few the word of God...and this will go against the grain of some, but if it never grew beyond those few...I would be content knowing that I was doing what God gave me to do. Preaching and teaching a few who could hopefully in turn, share with others. God grows the church; not me.

 

Mike, I believe we're in the last days, and if so...it's only going to get harder to find truly faithful people.

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Brother Mike,

 

As I read your post I couldn’t help but think of Jeremiah. He was faithful to preach God’s word for 23 years with no converts and no visible positive results. He was persecuted by his own countrymen, scorned by all, and his message fell on deaf ears.

 

Through it all he was faithful first to his God and second to God’s message. Although I am sure he got discouraged, still he went right back to preaching the truth he was sent to deliver to a wayward generation.

 

He did not quit because he had a purpose. He knew who he was and what he was supposed to do for his God. In Jer. 1:5 God explains Jeremiah’s call. “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.”

 

God knew him, sanctified him and ordained him. Having said that, is it reasonable to think that God did not know what Jeremiah was to go through? Of course He did, but that didn’t change God’s purposes, nor did it change the prophet’s ministry.

 

I said all of that to encourage you to possibly view your own ministry in the same light that was Jeremiah’s lot. If God has called you to preach and given you the tools to accomplish His will, is it reasonable to think that he did not know the circumstances you would have to work under to accomplish His purposes for both your life and the lives of those He has sent you to?

 

I am sure you have preached and heard the saying preached that we are not responsible for results; we are only responsible to be faithful. 1Cor 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. I think that I can see in you a faithful minister of Christ; and even in this time of trouble you remain faithful.

 

In closing I would urge you to not allow Satan to cast doubt on your ministry or God’s calling and purpose. I pray that God will comfort, sustain, reassure and empower you in His ministry. May you serve Him with renewed enthusiasm and determination, to His honor and glory.

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Just a word of encouragement if nothing else. When I first started attending my church which was almost 3 years ago, I'd always gone to bigger churches. Sunday mornings here have at most 12 faithful adults including me. Wed. nights sometimes I'm the only other adult to show up other than pastor and his wife and it's been that way for almost 3 years. My pastor is younger, in his early 30's, so his perspective I'm sure is different than yours. But he knows that he's preaching the truth if no other church in town is strong enough to do it anymore. and that's the only preacher I want to sit under to lead me! There's prOBably 20 other churches in my town also. You may be the only preacher around that's still willing to preach the truth and not water it down! 

You may need a vacation or a rest and it sure sounds like it! God bless you for all your years of service already! 

 

I think every church has at least one 'numbskull' that constantly adds drama but everyone knows is numbskull and is used to it!

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We had one of those "sons" in our church. Never happy with anything and has his own ideas on how things should go. It would be wise to ask him to not come back. Cancer like that spreads like wildfire.

 

What is your church structure like?

I saw in an earlier post that you don't have a building anymore.

 

I can tell from this post you meet on Sun. Morning, Sun. Night, and Wed. Night with some special events.

 

Lots of today's members (just like kids) are needing structure. Physical and Ideal.

 

By that I mean they want ownership and/or partnership in anything they can find.

 

With that being said, how is your missionary support. See if you can have a missionary come in one Sunday all day or at least both services. Advertise it, go out on the weekends before and hand out flyers along with tracts.

 

People like to feel in control and be comfortable doing it. Give them a local mission to do individually. Find something for them to be in control of and along with that comes the feeling of being a part of something. A feeling of belonging and ownership.

 

All of this may just be rambling and I'm sure someone is going to have something to say about it. "Show me where the Bible says....." I know.

I wrote this from the prospective of being the 1 that you talked about above. To try to help understand how that "one" thinks but also how people think in general. The fact is that people who go to church for the preaching are few and far between.

 

All that said.......hang in there. Preach the word without waiver or favour. Where ever it might be.

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Thanks all for great words of encouragement. Praying, keeping it in God's hands.

 

It was asked, more or less, am I certain I do this for the Lord, not for myself. I have had to ask myself that before, and I think, or hope, all pastors, or anyone in full-time service, ask themselves. I believe it is for the Lord, because there are no more here to seek approval from.  The man I took over from, very quickly went from being a supporter, to greatly disliking me, partly because I got married to someone he didn't know, but still didn't like, and partly, I believe, just from frustration at having to give up the pulpit due to health reasons. So I wasn't pleasing them. Others have left because I was willing to preach against the Catholic church or against false, pentecostal tongues. So if I am seeking to please men, I'm doing a pretty poor jOB of it. In fact, I fought tooth and nail AGAINST becoming a pastor, but having publicly dedicated myself to Him, the Lord made it clear He wasn't going to let me go from my vow, and drove me for 10 years in directions out of my own control, into exactly where I needed to be to surrender. Once I did, there was suddenly calm-not peace, completely, but calm. So I am certain I am in the right place. I sure wouldn't have chosen it of myself. No money, power, prestige, just the work, just the Lord. So I surely appreciate what you went through, and actually, in my first pastorate, which lasted about a year, I had to deal with some real pride issues, (I liked being called 'reverend" a title which I know eschew.)

 

Time to go to work.

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Over 15 years ago now, I once sought advice from my father-in-law concerning a thought to depart from a particular ministry.  His advice was just what I needed then, and continues with me to this day.  At that time he first asked -- How certain were you when you entered this ministry that the Lord wanted you there?  My answer -- 100%.  He than asked -- How certain are you now that the Lord wants you to depart.  My answer -- approximately 99%.  He then responded -- When you are 100%, then come back and talk to me.  (In my particular case, I became 100% approximately six months later when the Lord moved me to another ministry, that is -- the ministry wherein I have served as pastor for the past 16 years.)

 

I present this because of the help that this counsel provided for me.  Maybe it will serve to help you also, Brother Mike.

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Over 15 years ago now, I once sought advice from my father-in-law concerning a thought to depart from a particular ministry.  His advice was just what I needed then, and continues with me to this day.  At that time he first asked -- How certain were you when you entered this ministry that the Lord wanted you there?  My answer -- 100%.  He than asked -- How certain are you now that the Lord wants you to depart.  My answer -- approximately 99%.  He then responded -- When you are 100%, then come back and talk to me.  (In my particular case, I became 100% approximately six months later when the Lord moved me to another ministry, that is -- the ministry wherein I have served as pastor for the past 16 years.)

 

I present this because of the help that this counsel provided for me.  Maybe it will serve to help you also, Brother Mike.

Thanks, Brother. It does help

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Hate to be the monkey in your wrench Mike but if we cornered most on this forum they would believe you are not Scripturally qualified to pastor.
By your own admission you are divorced and remarried.
 
If the husband of one wife means what most think it means then it stands to reason that this calling of yours was against Scripture (therefore in your mind only-hence the desire to be called reverend).
 
In reality you would not even be allowed to candidate at any church I know of so think before you say how mean spirited this post is. I think everyone would say the same thing if you attempted to candidate at their church.
 
Now, if that is not what the qualifications mean then all who reply please say that first in your rebuttal because there is no gray area. It either means it or it don't. The Bible doesn't say "husband of one wife, unless of course you have a sOB story"
 
Perhaps you should face that reality head on when you wonder why no Spiritual blessings are on the church. I am not calling you out friend but it does surprise me if you had never wondered on this? Maybe it is time to give the hOBby church up. Maybe it was never supposed to be. You do make a living with the government, correct?

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Scripture doesn't say a pastor cannot have been divorced and remarried.  It simply says "the husband of one wife." 

If Mike is divorced from another, he is no longer that one's husband.

What did Paul say in 1 Corinthians?  "Art thou loosed from a wife?  Seek not to be bound.  But, and if thou canst contain, marry.  For it is better to marry than to burn."

So, I would not necessarily disqualify Mike based on his remarriage.  I would have to have more detail.  Such as, 'Is his first wife still alive?'  According to the guidelines set forth by Romans 7:1-4, we see that an woman who divorces a man and remarries while her ex-husband is still alive, shall be called an adulterer as long as her ex is still alive.    Does the same "adultery" rule apply to men as with women?  In my opinion, yes.

That said, I would not necessarily vote against a remarried man for a pastoral position, unless I knew that his first wife was still alive. 

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My My, what a wonderfully encouraging post you have written Wretched. Nothing like kicking a guy when he is down.

 

 Rom 14:4 Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.

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show me in the Bible where it says a divorced man cannot preach? Not your interpretation of a verse.

I'd rather have a divorced preacher who's a great husband and father who preaches the word of God than a horrible father and husband of the same woman for 30 years.

one wife, not a concubine, not a harem, not a Mormon wives club, but ONE faithful wife

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Scripture does not say a divorced man cannot preach. However, it does say the Bishop of the Church is to be "above reproach". Would having the tag of adulterer until his first wife die not be considered to be a reproach?

Just something to think about...

edited to add: Before someone reminds me that "we all sin," I need to point out that I know we all sin. However, not every sin is as blatantly manifest as that of adultery.

Edited by Standing Firm In Christ

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My My, what a wonderfully encouraging post you have written Wretched. Nothing like kicking a guy when he is down.

 

 Rom 14:4 Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.

Its alright, Jim, this is an issue I have dealt with, and am at peace with. And of course, I need to hear those with, maybe not so comroftable positions, as well as those comforting, and I appreciate his frankness, and the spirit it was given in.

 

Simply, my wife left me for another man, who she lived with, while we were still married, as his wife, even taking a ring from him. Even with that, I spent three years trying to 'win' her back. In this, she has repudiated Christ and His church, and has lived as an unsaved person, causing me to believe she was never saved in the first place. She has embraced Wicca, to some extent, and a very hedonistic lifestyle, including BDSM and nudity, and I suspect, some amount of bisexuality.

 

According to God's word, if an unbeliever abandons a believer, the brother is not in bondage to her.

 

So, due to adultery, abandonment and a clearly unsaved lifestyle since, (we're talking 21 years here), I am not biblically bound to her in any way, and thus, there is nothing saying I could not be remarried.  I am the husband of one wife, by biblical description, and to try to say otherwise is moving outside of scripture to man's opinion.

 

And not to hijack my own thread, but this bring to mind a question I have had: Does the Lord recognize as legitimate a marriage between a saved person and an unsaved person, when the marriage is clearly outside of His revealed will?  Does a subsequent divorce become another sin, or is it seeing to the first sin? Or, having committed the first sin, do we continue in that sin, or does God bless it and accept it once its done?

 

As far as being above reproach, in whose eyes? Man's? If that's the case, no one can be qualified. In God's? Then that means one must be born again, because then, all sin is under the blood, and he is justified and above reproach.

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I agree. Marriage picture the relationship between Christ and His church, which is why WHO we marry is so important, because if we marry wrong, we show an incorreect picture, like a church following a false messiah, or if Jesus was head over a false religious group. So, if a believer marries a non-believer, is it considered a legitimate marriage, being clearly against God's revealed will? 

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1 Timothy 3:5 (KJV)
5  (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 

 

I would find it difficult to accept marriage and family counseling from my pastor if he was not able to keep his own marriage together or his kids were in open rebellion to God.  There needs to be solid testimony among the flock that God's way works.  

 

Brother Mike, I love you dearly as a fellow brother in Christ, and I feel there are a lot of ministries open to a divorced man.  Even a preaching ministry such as evangelism, but not one where you are the shepherd of a flock.  

 

I know I have been away from this forum for weeks.  I have been struggling mightily with a couple of classes this term (CCNA Cisco networking which is 16 credit hours for certification so I have a long way to go, and C#, and C++ programming) at school and I spend almost all my free time buried in homework and study.  I hate coming on after weeks and  making such a negative sounding post.

 

Bro. Garry

In His will.  By His power.  For His glory. 

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1 Timothy 3:5 (KJV)
5  (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 

 

I would find it difficult to accept marriage and family counseling from my pastor if he was not able to keep his own marriage together or his kids were in open rebellion to God.  There needs to be solid testimony among the flock that God's way works.  

 

Brother Mike, I love you dearly as a fellow brother in Christ, and I feel there are a lot of ministries open to a divorced man.  Even a preaching ministry such as evangelism, but not one where you are the shepherd of a flock.  

 

I know I have been away from this forum for weeks.  I have been struggling mightily with a couple of classes this term (CCNA Cisco networking which is 16 credit hours for certification so I have a long way to go, and C#, and C++ programming) at school and I spend almost all my free time buried in homework and study.  I hate coming on after weeks and  making such a negative sounding post.

 

Bro. Garry

In His will.  By His power.  For His glory. 

As I said brother, its all good. If I ask advice in a forum such as this, I know that not everyone sees things as I do, so I expect the negative with the positive-really, its all positive, because its all a part of wise counsel. In the multitude of counselors there is wisdom. Thanks.

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