Consider these statistics:
· 40% of pastors in North America considered leaving the ministry in the past three months.
· For every 20 pastors who go into the ministry, only one retires from the ministry.
· 1,500 pastors leave ministry for good every month due to burnout, conflict or moral failure.
Why are there so many third degree ministry burns and relational smoke inhalation? I count it a privilege to reach out to numbers of pastors and missionaries, especially those going through trying circumstances and even disasters. These leaders need encouragement to stay in the game. They are not crazy to carry out their calling.
A Failure Conference?
Last month I spent two unique days at an Epic Fail Pastor’s Conference. Who would ever host a FAILURE conference … right? Yet, aren’t most people desperate to talk about their failure? Don’t most need a new theology and definition of success and failure? Isn’t there a need to process fear of failure and a place to let go of being super pastor, superman, and super leader? Shouldn’t conferences stop worshipping at the throne of the world’s definition of success and up the ante on simple devotion and faithfulness to Jesus? So the Epic Fail Conference was … no frills or thrills. Just sacred space ... The undeniable presence of Jesus … Raw stories … Failure experts … and much grace and truth.
The host site was initially going to be the eerie, closed down prison where the film, Shawshank Redemption, was filmed (somewhat fitting, don’t you think). In the end we met in a former church that failed and was bought by the town Bingo enterprise. The cross and steeple were removed and Bingo packed the place. Recently an African American pastor started praying for this building. In fact, he bought it. After scrubbing cigarette smoke off the walls and restoring the cross to prominence, he reopened the church. The house that failed and had Jesus stripped away was restored to a place of hope and inspiration. The winds of the Spirit started to blow again and God saved and restored the lives of people once again. The geographic location of Epic Fail spoke volumes as to what God is up to in leader’s lives. Dry bones can come back to life. Many opened up veins and bled into the microphones.
Stumbling friends of Jesus grieved, but found healing, hope, restoration and intimacy with God. New definitions of ministry success emerge, replacing buildings, bodies and budget size with faithfulness. Vulnerability and brokenness that many regard as weakness get redefined as healthy, courageous and human. Shame from failure can get put off and minds can be renewed in resurrection life.
At the end of the two days this prayer was prayed over us: May all your expectations be frustrated. May all your plans be thwarted. May all your desires be withered into nothingness that you may experience the powerlessness and poverty of a child and sing and dance in the love of the Father, the Son and the Spirit. Amen.
I concluded the Epic Fail gathering was a success and life transformative. I’m thinking about sponsoring an EPIC FAIL PEOPLE’S retreat in the fall or spring. Any interest? Is this crazy or needed? What do you think, my friends? Do you know any failure experts that have experienced the grace of God, or need too?
It took a few days to get Israel out of Egypt but many years to get Egypt out of Israel. How many people today are captive to some real or imagined failure? It is often easier to release a person from prison than from the prison mindset. The message of GRACE ADVENTURES is that redemption is available through Jesus Christ who says that we can know the truth and the truth will set us free.
· For the wounded pastors and missionaries I meet with who need grace and encouragement.
· For many upcoming speaking opportunities.
· For our state leaders who are in session. Pray for good contacts with key leaders.
· Wisdom as I consider putting together my own Epic Fail Retreat in our area to encourage people to experience freedom and redemption.
· For Donna who carries a huge load in ministry and our lives.
· That Jesus – the courageous, gracious, truth-filled Jesus of the Bible, is lifted up and people are drawn to Him.
Betting the Farm on God,