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Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Is it Time to Leave? Assessing Your Spiritual Appetite

John R. Cionca has a brand new book out titled "Before You Move: A Guide to Making Transitions in Ministry." I've just started reading it, and it has a ton of great information for anyone who is sensing a move may be in their future. In the book, John identifies twenty significant factors that will help you determine whether the time is right to leave your current ministry or if you should stay where you are at. Cionca describes red lights in each of these areas will remind us of the benefit of staying in our current ministry situation; while greenlights give us the freedom to move on. Today, we'll look at the first area he discusses: Spiritual Appetite.

Overall, life is too short to play church; so John says a bottom line question worth asking is "How spiritually hungry are your people? Are they more indifferent? Are they actively seeking Christian maturity?" He writes, "If after a reasonable tenure of service your congregation still seems apathetic to spiritual growth, you might well consider a reinvestment of service where your efforts can have greater impact. On the other hand, if you find people eager to mature in Christ, then remaining to feed their responsiveness is an appropriate choice.

What is the spiritual temperature of your congregation? Cionca suggests looking in these areas for signs of red lights or green lights in the area of your church's spiritual appetite:

--Enthusiasm in worship
--Participation in Bible studies
--Depth of volunteerism
--Attentiveness to preaching
--Involvement in cell groups
--Assimilation of newcomers
--Caring for one another's needs
--Members sharing their faith
--Personal ministries beyond the congregation

If you've been considering a move, spiritual appetite is one area to consider. How is your church doing? Have you seen an increase in spiritual appetite among your people? Or does apathy run rampant. These are all things to consider as you determine where God would have you minister.

Remember, this is just one of twenty areas that John touches on his book. We'll try to look briefly at one area each week in the coming weeks. I would encourage you to pick up a copy of this book to get the full benefit of the information and ideas that we'll be sharing.

How is your church doing? Has this been an area of frustration for you? Have you ever left a church because of spiritual apathy? Let us know your comments by clicking the comments link below.

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September 28, 2004 in Personnel Issues | Permalink

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One correction to your review of Before You Move: A Guide to Making Transitions in Ministry.

This book is not "a brand new book." It is an updated and expanded edition of my former book Red Light: Green Light--Discerning a Time for a Change in Ministry. The revised edition has additional chapters and updated charts (such as salary ranges).

Posted by: john cionca | Sep 28, 2004 10:56:56 AM

I believe you are on target mostly. I don't want to be in a dead church any more than you do. I have come to realize that my desires that come from seeing the needs here where I am are NOT the desires of the church. Mostly they are not even close. I believe it's time to go, and when the door opens I'll be willing.


Posted by: Keith | Oct 4, 2004 10:47:26 AM

I see the signs and see people dieing spiritually and leaving phyically. I have made up my mind to be the next to leave. As pastor you can only give so much until the people get a mind to work. I pray the people will get a hunger for the things of God before it's to late.

Posted by: Kathy | Oct 5, 2004 1:29:47 PM

As a Pastor, I have learned that everyone is not going to respond to the Holy Spirit in the same manner. Some will cry, shout, dance, etc. I have a problem because I am use to people worshipping but where I serve now seems to be the "Valley of Dry Bones." I am praying for a change and move!

Posted by: LeVar | Oct 6, 2004 2:37:00 AM

I think this can go both ways. The Pastor can be discouraged by the lack of participation from the congregation or enthusiasm and not willing to receive or go with the flow of the Holy Spirit. It's something a Pastor seeking employment should defintely be led by the Holy Spirit so he or she can handle whatever the atmosphere is because they are on an assignment and vice versa for the congregation. I agree that if you are in a dead church that you should seek out other fertile ground if in fact the Lord has led you to do just that. We cannot base moving solely on our feelings or disagreements. You have to be in tune in with our Father. A plant/tree can't uproot itself only a natural disaster (if your roots are not deep) or the planter uproots.

Posted by: Czetta Carpenter | Oct 11, 2004 11:44:40 AM

I have always been the kind of guy who would be the last one to leave, go down with the ship! even to the point of burn out. I keep thinking, you never know, God may turn this around, your on the brink of a miracle!, your miracle church growth is just around the corner!. I wonder how much of the complacency of our church members are directly related to the spiritual level of the Pastor. Is there a time frame, that if it isn't working by ??? I'm leaving! Did God tell you to go there and pastor? Doesn't He know what's going on? I have faced these things in the ministry and will get the book. Who knows, maybe my answer is in this book!

Posted by: Thomas | Oct 11, 2004 3:58:40 PM

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