From the Outside… In.

I have a confession to make:  For the past 9 years I have worked IN a church (actually, a couple of churches).

Now, that might not seem to be a major confession… but it is.  I have been guilty of looking at the church, the ministry, The website, and what we say about God and Jesus from an INSIDER’S PERSPECTIVE.  It’s easy to defend things when you are on the inside.  It’s easy to rationalize things when you are on the inside.  It’s easy to justify things when you are on the inside.  It’s also easy to MISS things when you are on the inside, OVERLOOK things when you are on the inside, and FORGET things when you are on the inside.

But what if you were able to step away from the inside for a while?  what if you had a change of perspective and got to see things from the OUTSIDE?  What if you got a chance to view the worship experience from an OUTSIDE perspective?  What if you got the opportunity to walk through the halls of your church from an OUTSIDE perspective?  What if you viewed the children’s & student ministry from an OUTSIDE perspective?  What if you had the chance to view your church’s website with an OUTSIDE perspective?  My guess is that there would be a lot of things that you and I would change if our perspective changed.

I was recently let go of my position as student ministry director @ Oakbrook church because of the financial realities of our church and ultimately our city.  I don’t know if you are aware of this… but Kokomo, Indiana was one of the top 10 dying cities in America according to Forbes magazine.  Unemployment was at an all-time high… giving to charitable organizations was down.  The financial climate of our town has not been good.  In fact, as I am writing this, I am a little shocked that we had made it this far without having to cut anyone.   There was nothing personal or even performance related driving this decision.  It was made purely because of two things:  The reality of our finances as a church (shameless plug for our congregation to step up in it’s giving), and, in the direct words from a letter to our congregation, “what position can we eliminate and still have an effective, healthy ministry.”  It always was and always will be my philosophy in student ministry that the ministry is NOT ABOUT ME.  Sure, I’m the point leader.  Sure, I take responsibility for the team that I build.  Sure, I do the “Lion’s Share” of the communicating… but it is NOT ABOUT ME.  I desired to build this ministry around getting students to LOVE JESUS, and structured it so that, in the event that I was no longer there, the ministry would survive and even thrive.  I have seen WAY TO MANY student ministries that track like a roller coaster based on the leader’s personality: New leader comes to ministry & STUDENTS SHOW UP.  He builds it around how great of a communicator, relator, or whatever he is.  He gets bored, gets distracted, gets lonely, or worse, gets fired for something… leaves, and the ministry leaves with him.  That’s not much of a legacy.  That’s not much leadership either.  Anyway, my point is that I am, for a little while, no longer an insider.  I have been pursuing new ministries… and in that pursuit, I have been given fresh perspective: an OUTSIDE perspective.  As I have been searching… I get to see what an outsider sees.  I also get to view the church that I have been working at for the past 4 years through fresh eyes.

It’s amazing what you get to see from the outside:

  • You get to evaluate what is most important in a church.
  • You get to realize that not everyone thinks like a pastor or programmer.
  • You see things that really work or that really do not work.
  • You get to see what is rewarding and what is frustrating to the people of the church.
  • You get a chance to ask questions without the pressure of having to answer them.

My prayer is that 1) every pastor, minister, or person working in a church would learn to look at what they do from an outside perspective and 2) that I would become a better leader because of this season in my life.  Sometimes change is good. 🙂

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3 thoughts on “From the Outside… In.

  1. Wow. All I can say is thank you for writing this. This is truly a “big God perspective.” Praying for you and your family and the exciting things in your future!

  2. So sorry for you, your family, and the OCC family. This was a shock to us as well! So sad to see the impact of the economy take a toll on the church. I know that things like this are very unsettling and confusing, but I love your spirit in this. I am very excited to see what God has in store for you and your family. Change is never easy, but you are right, it is a great thing. Praying for you guys and for OCC.

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