I'm worship leader in our small church of 25. I've been there 6 years and knew for at least the first 4 that it was God's call. I was young (21), the congregation was older but I felt God say to be around those that were experienced in the faith to learn from them. At the time some of my friends were encouraging me to join their churches because of the amount of young people there was. I stood my ground and honestly, I wouldn't be the person I am today if it wasn't for this church.
I'm now married and my partner has been in the church 2 years and hasn't settled since day one. The congregation really is an odd bunch but there has been 3 people get saved in the last 2 years and we're only small, so that's significant.
I've grown in my worship leading ability and am hearing God more when leading which is encouraging.
Problem is, we're actually really lonely. There isn't anyone in church we can go to if we just need to off load or we're having a hard time. There's no young couples at all, let alone our age. There is a lot of need and we seem to deal with a lot of it. The pastor and his wife definitely get their fair share and are such servants but we just feel like a square peg in a round hole and don't know what to do about it.
The pastor is great but it's hard to go to him and say, actually this church isn't where we feel we fit, until we know God's calling us somewhere else - right?
But last night the 6 of us leaders got together to talk though some housegroup issues and for a bit of training from the pastor, which was good, but then there was comments like 'we're not all here by mistake together, in unity'...we felt riddled with guilt sitting there thinking, actually, we're not sure how committed we are here.
We don't have anyone we can go to for advise, so here I am relying on a web discussion hoping that someone can advise us. Of course we're praying, and we're pushing doors to see if this is actually time to move on, but do I continue leading worship knowing that we probably will be leaving within the next year? Do we drop leading housegroup knowing that there's noone else to pick it up right now so it's putting even more burden on the pastor? Do we sit down and tell the pastor and his wife how we feel knowing that he will probably strip of us responsibility (which is helping us grow as individuals) because he'll feel we're not committed?
Blessings in Christ.
These are tough decisions to make, and I know you don't want to make it lightly. Good on you for sounding it out with others first; may you find the wisdom you need.
First of all, wanting to be around others your own age who share common interests is not only normal, it's necessary, in my view, and especially helpful in the first years of marriage. Yes, having a few older people to get counsel from is important, but you can lose touch with your own generation if that's all you have. So I wouldn't feel guilty about wanting to be around a few people your own age.
Secondly, if you've served faithfully up until now, you don't need to feel guilty about stepping down. Very few of us are called to serve in one place or in one capacity for life. God will open up new doors for you in other places, just as He can raise up new people to fill the spots you leave. The funny thing is, you won't see these people while you're still there doing the job. Sometimes it takes us leaving before others step in to fill the role.
Thirdly, if you do decide to move on, prepare yourself for the fact that you will be replaced - don't become bitter if others are found to do what you did...and maybe even better. We tend to think we're irreplaceable; we're not. We're important, yes, but that's it.
You say your pastor might "strip" you of your responsibility "because he'll feel we're not committed" - that's a pretty harsh statement - are you sure you mean it? If he's a man of God and a good leader, then he will know that people move on in life. He should be able to accept that God has other plans, both for you and for him and his church. To act otherwise would be to act selfishly. I think that if you talk openly and honeslty with him, showing that you hold no bitterness, then hopefully he would respond likewise.
Leaving, if you do it, is hard. As you pray, look for that peace of God that passes all understanding that Paul talks about. It will guide you.
Thanks Rick. Some sound advice here.
I guess we’ve felt trapped for a while with this sense of duty, what will they do if we go, because we know how integral we are to how the church is currently running, but you’re right, perhaps we would be replaced which would be great and we’re totally open for that.
We’ve just served the way we have because we haven’t ‘felt’ that there are others willing to but if we’re not there, someone’s going to have to set up the PA every week, lead a house group, lead worship, organise the rotas, disciple the people we’re discipling, organise the socials etc. Maybe it is actually time to give others a chance to step up to the marker plate.
I think that might have been a bit harsh re: our pastor ‘stripping us of our responsibilities’. I just know that he and alot of people at church have been hurt badly in other churches and I guess I expect disappointment at us announcing that we’re looking at leaving.
There also hasn’t been any support or feedback from a prophesy we received in the summer that suggested that we shouldn’t be surprised if God moves us, redirects us, brings geographical change. We found the pastor almost defensive which made us think he’s not going to be happy about us going and we don't want to hurt him either but also want to follow God's call. I think it would be almost easier if there was a clear call on our lives to live in the slums of India or something rather than relocate to a different part of the UK!!
We will pray before we speak to anyone in church so that hearts are prepared.Thanks so much for your response.
Thank you for sharing.
It's so difficult when decisions like this are to be made, as there are so many aspects to consider. Am I doing the right thing? What if? It goes on and on............what's great though is that you are looking at the whole picture, from all angles with a level head and a pure heart and I truly believe that through your prayer, the Lord in His infinite wisdom and timing will leave you in no doubt as to what you should do.
In my prayers too. Lorraine
Thank you for your response. It's great to know that there are brothers and sisters in Christ that we don't know but who are willing to give us the advise we don't know where to get elsewhere! Thank you, we will continue seeking Him and know that in a couple of years we'll look back at this season as a real testimony of God's grace on our lives.
Would you be open to staying if you did find closer fellowship? How does where you fellowship (and, indeed, where you live and work) fit with other parts of your vision? Have you got somewhere else in mind?
When I moved on from my previous church in London to my present place in Oxford, my wife and I both felt that our vision for living and working in Inner London had gently come to an end. We held on for a while because the previous pastor had left and we wanted the church to help find a new one and get them settled in (doubly important because of my role as an elder!). However, once the new pastor was established and the church was in a smooth period, a job came up in Oxford which I applied for and got. As the first application I had made in eight years, I'm happy to count that as a bit of a miracle!
For us, the cross-country move to a position which was clearly a good step forward, helped ease the process. I think it would have been much harder if there had been compelling reasons to stay in the same area but start with a new church rather than carry on with the same one. However, even that can work. Recently someone in my house group (in the new church, and of which I am now the leader) "confessed" that they had been visiting a new church. Not a problem for me or the others in the group. If people don't move on, sometimes that means there isn't room for new people to come in and our desire is for each person to be in a place where they can wholeheartedly serve God and live for his purposes.
Keep praying but, unless God opens up a clear pathway to move on, don't be in too much trepidation about having a quiet chat with the pastor (from what you say, that sounds like the appropriate person). If he gets upset and difficult, that might be the clear sign you have been looking for but, more hopefully, he can help you move on either in finding what you are lacking in the same place or finding somewhere new.
Great testimony of God's faithfulness, Wulf.
It's not easy, but we as leaders need to be more open about letting God (our true master) move his people around to where they fit best. I've trained many young worship musicians who ultimately move away from our church - and that's a good thing. God is going to use them in places you and I may never go.
Thanks so much for your response. It is a very good question 'would we be open to staying if we did find closer fellowship'. I think we've been questioning our vision as a couple with that of the church. We've only been dating for 2.5 years and got married within that time so while we have an overview of where our vision and our hearts are at, we haven't drilled down to the nitty gritty of it all which we do need to do.
The church we attend has a definite call of God to Uganda, Africa where out of a group of 20 of us we run 2 schools, have a pig farm, micro-finance scheme, have launched electronic bible schools (ISOM – International School of Ministry) to reach at least the leaders of 200 churches, with requests to take the bible schools throughout Africa. I’ve been in the church 6 years and have never once felt to go on a trip out there, my heart is not in Africa that’s for sure but 90% of the tithe of the church goes there. So the question of if things changed in terms of people our age to have fellowship with, we don’t necessarily feel that we fit like a hand in a glove here. But our issue is not knowing what we should do. Like I mentioned to Rick, we have this inherent sense of duty to be here but maybe our vision has got to be the driving force that determines the next move.
We feel drawn North – but that’s about it. There are several links to some good churches so we are going to push some doors, visit the churches, get info about their vision, what they’re about, how they work etc.
We don’t have a reason to leave our house or our jobs but there is nothing else for us in our town except our church, so we would want to relocate if we leave church. It was good like you say that it was easier that you had a job to go to. We could possibly keep the jobs we have but work from home and commute when necessary back to this area if we don’t go too far North. We’ll see. God will lead us as we trust in Him I know. But really appreciate the bouncing board of this discussion forum.Thank you.
"...we have this inherent sense of duty to be here but maybe our vision has got to be the driving force that determines the next move."
Remember that the need is not the call; just because a group could really use you does not mean that is the place where the Lord would have you serve. He's bigger than that.
You've also mentioned children and desiring a good environment for them to grow up in. This is important, and something to pay close attention to. For my wife and I, we have one child left at home, and our situation is the opposite. I would gladly (to some extent) make a move to pursue personal ministry goals, but because the current setting is so good (school, friends, church youth group), we will stay put until either he has graduated or God tells us VERY clearly to go. You only get one shot at raising your kids.
Yes, don't allow people to treat you like a security blanket. If there are things the church can't do when you go and you are feeling led by God in another direction, then perhaps the church isn't meant to be doing those things any more? Frequently, when highly gifted and active people leave a church, others suddenly blossom.
Of course, there is a flip side. If another youngish couple comes to the church there is a good chance you could become great friends. If you aren't there, there is even more chance that the next young couple visiting will just pass through without sticking.
One thought which may help if you aren't in a very isolated setting, is how about making friends with people at other churches? A larger church might have some interest-based groups that you could join without having to join their church. Perhaps there is a local network of worship leaders? Maybe there is a solution which isn't stay or go.
There are other young people but 3 that have recently been saved from really distructive backgrounds so they will take a while to mature and there is a lot of need there. There's also a young single girl but again lots of councelling has been needed and none of them are people we could go to for help at this point. I've seen incredible growth in them however and have no doubt that down the line if people were to join, they will be the strong ones coming along side others.
The other thing is that we want to have a family but our children are likely to grow up without christian friends at church, which I went through and really struggled with so it's a value of ours to surround our children with the christian children.
We have other christian friends all over the place but just not in our town. I went to uni there and all of my friends have moved away. We have one christian couple here that we're good friends with but they're leaders in their church and have a busy schedule so we meet up about 4/5 times a year which isn't my idea of fellowship!
I take your point of not being treated like a security blanket - and I do think that now there are some people who could step up their serving and have the skills to also.
Thanks for the reply. The word 'frustrating' is pretty much how we feel right now. I think my response to Wulf kind of summed up that our direction and that of the church seems to different so we really need to look at our vision as a couple and the gifts and skills we have, how we're being used and how we could be used and if there's room for that here.
I'm glad you made the right move, that has got to be the worst thing after all those years, to leave and then realise you left for the wrong reasons...
I agree, we want to leave as friends and we want to be prayed out/supported. I think we're not so worried about the emotional pressure, as the pressure of 'are you sure you've heard from God?' and then us doubting, you know? But at the end of the day, when we stand in front of Jesus, we will be held to account for our lives and we don't want to have to say, we felt time was up, but we stayed because we felt under pressure! We want to live our lives to the glory of His name and we won't do that fully if we're in the wrong place.
Thanks for sharing your story.