I wanted to be a youth pastor because my youth pastor changed my life. I found a college that had a degree in youth ministry and off I went in 1993. A few internships later and a degree in hand I started working at Eastside Christian Church in Fullerton, CA. I loved the kids. I loved the chance to do ministry, but I knew I was suppose to do something else. My best friend and I were doing junior high ministry together at the church, but we had started a speaking ministry on the side while still in college.
My boss at the church let me travel on certain weekends and we sort of had the best of both worlds. I had a job that paid me, gave me health insurance and had the ability to travel and do ministry as well. I think I was given that luxury because my boss did the same thing years before me but then gave up the part-time road gig and settled in at the church. Part of me thinks he let me travel because he wished he not settled a few years prior.
Jake and I were sitting in our beat up van in the middle of California one weekend and we both agreed, “We don’t want to be 40 and say, “remember when we used to travel and speak but then we got married, had kids and just got normal jobs?”
We quit. I quit the church and I thank God everyday that at 22 years of age, I left my steady pay check, the benefits and the comfort of working for a mega church and started Fireproof Ministries with my best friend Jake Larson.
At 22 it was a lot easier. No kids, 3 months into marriage and that crazy feeling in your early twenties that you can do anything and if it does not work, you could always get your job back!
The older you get, the more responsibility and the more life you live, the harder it is to just go for your dreams or the calling that God has placed on your life.
Jake and I went on to speak in front of 500,000 kids and see over 5,000 kids give their lives to Christ at our events. I went on to start XXXchurch where today we have had over 1 million people get accountable online through X3watch. I could go on about the joys and blessings we have had from starting this ministry. Jake went back to work at a church a few years ago. Today, he serves on our Board of Directors and works at a church full-time. Today, I run Fireproof Ministries and I do a lot of work with churches across the country.
God is using both of us.
I know Rob Bell. I don’t know everything Rob is doing next, but I don’t think Rob is any less of a leader, speaker, father or pastor by stepping away from Mars Hill.
I am bothered when I read online about whether that was right for Rob to leave.
After Rob Bell’s decision to leave Mars Hill was made public, there were many tweets going out. I saw one that read,
“Speaking tours feed the ego, all applause & no responsibility. It’s an unreal world. A church gives accountability & validity.”
I would go out on a limb and say more pastors need to leave the church.
We live in a new age. I wanted to become a pastor because my youth pastor changed my life. Today, several people want to get into ministry so they can one day sell out Yankee stadium, be a best selling author, have their own airplane, make millions of dollars. These were never options years ago, but today you can become a pastor and if you grow a congregation, you can get a book deal or get on TV and next thing you know, become a fashion designer.
Francis Chan left his role at his church and went onto something new. Rob is leaving and is off to something new. It is okay to quit. I think leaving is 100 times harder then staying.
It is comfortable to stay. It is expected to stay. It easier to stay, but if your heart is not in it or if you feel the Lord leading you to something else, why stay? Do you stay just so you can have more credibility in your books or your speaking tours because you are part of the “pastor club”?
If you are not able or willing or feel called to really pastor a church, why stay?
My friend works for a big church. His pastor is well known. His pastor has 5 different companies or businesses. His pastor is rarely in the office. His pastor is not available to counsel or shepherd anyone really in the church. His pastor is barely able to make it to staff meetings. His pastor is a great communicator. His pastor has sold a lot of books and is doing really well. The staff thinks the pastor should leave because he is clearly checked out, but he stays.
I believe he stays because if he leaves the church he will have less impact and no base of credibility. He stays because he will sell more books, more merchandise and have more demand for his things if he stays attached to the church. Those are all the wrong reasons to stay.
I go to church. I love the church. My best friend works for a church and I don’t but does my best friend have more credibility because of that? I don’t think so. I think pastors would gain more credibility if they left something the minute they lost the passion or the desire to do it, despite of what people might think or what they might lose.
I don’t ever regret quitting. It would have been easier had I stayed, but I would have missed out on so much.
I think the best is yet to come for Rob and whether you are a pastor or not, if you know in your heart it is time to move on, move on. The ones that play it safe stay put, but James says it is a sin to know what you out to do and not do it.
I think many people know in their hearts it is time to move on and simply just ignore it.