Friday, August 18, 2006

ministry and balance

My friend Brian Bill posted a link to an article about megachurch pioneer Bill Hybels that recently ran in the Chicago Tribune. It shares a lot of good info about Hybels' journey, plus some revealing stuff about the toll of pushing hard for growth. Here's an excerpt.

But the church's growth also took a professional and personal toll on Hybels, who had married his longtime sweetheart in 1974 and quickly had children.

By 1990 he felt he had to recharge. Piloting a borrowed sailboat, he renewed a lifelong love of the water and spent more of his summers reconnecting with his family and with God.

In 1994 about a quarter of the church's staff and a third of the lay leadership left, saying they were burned out by the church's fast pace and lack of personal touch. The exodus inspired Hybels to further examine his management style and his expectations.
It seems that megachurches are usually created by a certain superdriven personality type, which can drive staff to the point of exhaustion and make family members feel neglected. I wrestle with evaulating balance and motives. What kind of balance does God call us to have between priorities of ministry and family?

John Wesley did not find marriage as a worthy preoccuation. When he got married, he made this statement:

"I cannot understand how a Methodist preacher can answer it to God to preach one sermon or travel one day less in married than in a single state."

And what about motives? Are most superdriven pastors trying to build the kingdom of God or their own empire? This is easy to think about since the church I pastor is not experiencing any kind of explosive growth. It may be that God uses all of our mixed bag of messed up motives and balance for his glory, even though it is often less than 100% pure.

I question if megachurches would even exist if these superdriven pastors were actually living balanced Christ-centered lifestyles. And I in no way deny the amazing amount of good that they have done.


gmw said...

The book that is waiting to be written is about Church leadership that led a church to dynamic growth and authentic discipleship and community that does not include either a mea culpa for family neglect for the first 8 (or whatever #) years at the church or a holding up of workaholism as a virtue for "successful" leadership.

Unfortunately, we've inherited the workaholism from Wesley along with the good theology and ministry tactics.

Holy Pirate said...
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Holy Pirate said...

I think Andy Stanley may have such a book in progress.

Jason Woolever said...

Actually, Andy Stanley wrote a great little book about this called "Choosing to Cheat" saying that if you had to choose between work and family, which one to cheat one, always cheat on work.

The strange thing is that Andy Stanley cranks out an awful lot of material for a dude who professes to only work 45 hours a week and leave the office every day at 4:15pm.

Jason Woolever said...

Guy, you're right about that. I think Wesley was obsessed with his own salvation, and it drove him to nonstop work.

Adam Hamilton goes so far as to say that "you can't build an excellent ministry on 45 hours a week."

I would say, "you can't be a father on fumes."

Jason Woolever said...

hey pirate, when's your next post comin! your blog died in the starting gate!

Holy Pirate said...

It didn't die... it just got planted in January and all the growth has been underground since then. ;-)

I begin Asbury's ExL program Sept. 5. Expect to see some visible sprouts around then.

Jason Woolever said...

cool. let me know when you start!