Living in the Resurrection Bubble

Last week, I suggested that if a church is not growing, it is dying and I wanted to take a moment to respond to a comment from my friend, Jimmy Taylor. He pointed out that I am a young pastor serving at a high energy church with significant leadership.

He is absolutely right. My pastoral identity and understanding about how churches operate has been significantly shaped by serving at Resurrection. In fact, this was my first appointment out of seminary and I continue to be appointed here. I have no other appointment context against which to gauge my experience here. It is certain that in many ways that Resurrection is an anomaly among United Methodist Churches.

I am aware that in some ways I live in a “Resurrection bubble.” There are both good and bad aspects to this reality.

I strive to pay attention to the best practices of ministry at Resurrection that have nothing to do with numbers or dollars. I do my best to maintain connection with the annual conference where I was ordained and where my membership resides.

Do pastors live in a bubble of their own context? Can you help me normalize my experience? Or provide some perspective and commentary?

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7 thoughts on “Living in the Resurrection Bubble

  1. It doesn’t matter what your context is. If your church isn’t growing, it’s dying. I fully agree with that.
    Of course, the difference may be in how we define “growing.” I don’t limit “growing” to just numbers. A toxic, deadly church will grow in numbers…

    But. If a child is the same, mentally and physically at the age of 10 as s/he was at the age of 4, there’s a problem.
    I feel similar about the church and Christian life. We need to grow, whether it be spiritually, in giving, in missions, I guess in size…

  2. We all live in bubbles and pastors in struggling churches respond out of those bubbles too. As long as you are aware of it and articulate it on occasion, it’s fine…just be prepared to be called on it in a gentle way like your friend did.

    I was more offended at the person on the previous thread who said that the pastors who are pushing back at you are defending the status quo and are “disappointments.” That’s quite an assumption that doesn’t take into account any history of any church.

    I think you have to serve a struggling church to get its problems and realize that growing/dying are not solely based on numbers (as your original post indicated…you backed away in the comments but not in the post) but also by the strength of their character and witness.

  3. Jeremy,

    Sorry you were offended friend, but I stand by my statement. I continue to hear both in your statement, and in those of many other reacting against things like the Call to Action, a justification of ineffectiveness that is reminiscent of the teacher’s unions justification of classroom failure. The test of a true leader is even if it the case, they never say “Its Not My Fault”, and they always say, “It is my responsibility”. It is the responsibility of every senior pastor to shepherd the growth their church. That means spiritually, numerically, financially, and missionally. It isn’t enough to pick one and call it good, and in fact one cannot really grow without the others. As the politicians have been saying lately, its time for our leaders to man up….

  4. AC –
    As always, great thoughts man.
    We have another 40 years together in ministry to figure all this stuff out.

    One response, in my post to you I referenced working in two large churches, one of which is a mega-mega church.
    My point, one that I think JWOB misunderstood, is not that growth in smaller towns is not a possibility. Its just that the practice and ways to measure growth are different in Burden Kansas or Wallace County than that of Leawood, KS. FTR, I hardly think that a guy who spends his time networking as much as you do is myopic in outreach and understanding.

    My last thought is this, and I’ve thought about it all day long.
    Every day I walk into my office, I immediately sequester myself from the needs of others in the community. This office from which I currently type these o-so eloquent words is a vicious vacuum which sucks all sense of excitement and creativity from me.
    Call me Bubble Boy.
    And I’ll go on calling you a great friend and partner in God’s great task to woo people into his Kingdom.

  5. Do pastors/ministers/preachers live in a bubble? the problem is that too many individuals never leave the bubble. And because these bubbles are closed systems, there is no fresh air – the carbon dioxide builds up and we slowly suffocate.

    We need to understand what works in other places and see if that will work with our church. Remember that Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James and John to be fishers of men because they were fishermen. He told stories about farming to farmers.

    Our call, our stories, our sermons have to be expressed in terms of the people in the congregation. And we won’t know how to tell those stories if we don’t get out of our bubble. We might not like that world but it is the world in which we have to exist.

  6. You might live a COR bubble, but how many other young pastors get stuck in a “3 point charge” bubble and get formed and shaped by those churches so that a first appointment pastor has no other context with which to measure their ideas and experiences? I think it is always a challenge for young pastors to remember that their next church will be different from their first church – and their next church will be different BECAUSE of that pastor’s first church!

  7. You might live a COR bubble, but how many other young pastors get stuck in a “3 point charge” bubble and get formed and shaped by those churches so that a first appointment pastor has no other context with which to measure their ideas and experiences? I think it is always a challenge for young pastors to remember that their next church will be different from their first church – and their next church will be different BECAUSE of that pastor’s first church!

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