One thing I was not prepared for though was after almost 15 years of church ministry, what was next? This shocked me because I was always a "small church guy" and as most you know, covocational. I cannot even fathom going from large church, full time life to this. It has been shocking, even in the micro.
But you may be reading this thinking, "Yeah, I know I am going to be leaving church ministry soon, but yes I am totally unsure what is next."
Here are 3 things that I did that have helped me in the transition and I hope it helps you too.
Rediscovered what it meant to be a Christian, but not the professional kind. Whether that means visiting new churches (or just staying home on Sunday) or just not telling strangers that I am a pastor, it has been a new perspective shift to simply be a Christian in the pew and not a Christian in leadership. It can be tough, like a nurse watching a hospital show and yelling at the screen of all the medical errors, being on the "sideline" of church ministry has been strangely refreshing.
Getting physically and emotionally healthier. As a bivo pastor, the two areas of my life I grossly neglected were my physical health and cultivating trusting friendships. With the newfound free time that I now have, I have taken up running, lost some weight and been enjoying the Voice Memo feature on iPhone where I can stay connected with friends. I did not realize how much my soul needed these things.
Never Say Never. Not often, but occasionally I am asked, would you ever return to church ministry? My answer is of course. I would want some sort of hybrid job that was a little bit of teaching, staff and volunteer development and project management but I know I wouldn't want to be a lead pastor and I sure as heck don't want to plant again but yes, I am open.
I write this as an encouragement that there is life "on the other side" of pastoral ministry and I wish I made a more robust plan on what my life would look like after but I am just making it up as I go, like I do with lots of things.
8 months ago this week, I stood in front of the church that I planted in The Bronx and said my goodbyes. For those who don't know the backstory, our church merged with one of our daughter churches and continues to thrive today. I am grateful.
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