Why Pastors Leave After a Building Program

Now that we’ve survived the major push to occupy our new facility at 872 Maitland Avenue, it occurred to me that someone out there might have written about what to expect as a church AFTER the completion of a new building.

I did a Google search to that end. About four pages into the search I ran across this intriguing title. The article suggests, for a variety of reasons, that as many as twenty percent of pastors leave their churches within two years of completing a building program.

As I read through the article I found myself grateful for the wisdom to have stayed out of the construction process to focus on my pastoral responsibilities. I said all along that wiser, smarter, and better equipped people than I served on the building committee and sub-committees to put our structure on the map. Pastors doing the opposite apparently position themselves for disaster. The article calls it a recipe for burnout:

Most pastors already have enough work to do. The weekly regimen of preaching, preparation, counseling, visitation and administration take up the bulk of their time. It has been estimated that the pastor of the average church works 48 to 55 hours per week. Add to this the responsibility to get a building built, and you’ve got a recipe for burnout.

Indeed. Praise God for sidestepping that pitfall. You can read the rest of the article here, if it interests you.

I have noticed, however, a shift in my personal involvement with the facility now that we’ve opened. Going to the office day-in and day-out, I am regularly confronted with the variety of matters needing attention both inside and out. Six plus acres and a 21,000 sq. ft. building present a sizable stewardship. How’s that for understatement? Quite frankly, it exceeds the demands of two staff pastors, an assistant, and five elders and five deacons working as hard as they can.

Dear ones, we simply must own this, all of us covenant members, together. The SDA days are gone. We can’t call the landlord anymore. And we simply don’t have the budget to pay for all upkeep, though we have outsourced a good bit of it. We need volunteers willing to serve in the day of His power (Psa. 110:3).

How can you help?

First, if you see something that needs attention, if you possibly can, jump on it. Pull a weed, haul a limb, pick up the trash, dust the shelf, clean the smudge, etc. If you can’t dispatch it yourself for whatever reason, call it to our attention in the office and we will get someone who can.

Second, plan to participate in  at least one or two work parties in the next calendar year. We will call them regularly. We have no choice, especially at this time of the year in the tropics where stuff grows like crazy. If Saturdays don’t suit you due to work or other responsibilities, how about volunteering to come in sometime during the week? Let Greg or me know and we will be happy to put you on assignment at a time that works for you.

Please don’t anybody panic over this post. I not tempted in the least to bail from burnout. I’ve never felt healthier in my adult life. And I am more excited about ministry at OGC than ever now that we have a home. But please count this a gentle reminder that a new day has come. We have a mega-responsibility now to steward. If we spread the weight of that on everyone’s shoulders, no one should collapse under the strain, including me.

Many, many thanks.

Resource Center Upgrade

I’ve been putting our summer intern, Jacob Yarborough, (What a HUGE blessing he has been to us!) through a variety of paces so he can experience the range of responsibilities that come with pastoral ministry.

Today I challenged him to write a blog post on our new facility’s version of the resource center, something I’ve wanted to blog about for a while now. I post it here today with a few tweaks of my own.

With the new building comes change in many ways.

One of the things that underwent a change was the Resource Center. Before it consisted of a small bookrack on a table in the hallway of the SDA, now we have four great shelving units with many titles on display smack dab in the middle of our gathering space/entry way.

The purpose of the Recourse Center is to be just that, a resource for the spiritual life and well being of the flock at OGC. Our staff selected these titles specifically with the our congregation in mind. This collection of books and booklets is meant to educate, encourage, and equip the people of OGC by giving them a reliable source for quality reads without the trouble of researching authors or titles. Many of these books will help to establish a Christ-centered worldview that will serve to shape our everyday lives.

Please make the effort to stop by the Resource Center Book area in the main lobby sometime soon. There are over 30 different titles on display from authors like: John Piper, J.I. Packer, Ted Tripp, Francis Chan, and Mark Dever. There is a price chart on one of the shelves to let you know what the cost of the books is as well as a collection box to place payment in for any book that you might want. The money made from book sales will go back into restocking the shelves with more great books.

Some new titles just added to the shelves are: Welcome to a Reformed Church by Daniel Hyde and What’s So Great about the Doctrines of Grace? by Richard Phillips. Both of these books are especially helpful to members and regular attendees of OGC, not to say newcomers unfamiliar with our tradition, who might want to expand their understanding of what it means to be reformed.

In the future we will be featuring a resource of the month to draw attention to strategic books that change people’s lives. Watch the announcement slides and blog posts in the future for more information.

Reading quality spiritual books makes a difference in our lives. Why not pick up one of these excellent titles this Sunday and dive in at your first available reading opportunity?

How Gospel Grace Can Shape Our Grand Opening

After four soft-launch Sundays, Grand Opening Sunday at OGC’s new facility has finally arrived. Thanks to everyone who has worked so hard to move us in and make us functional in this terrific resource the Lord has entrusted to us.

Here are some thoughts on how the gospel of Jesus who gave His life for us to redeem us from sin and the curse of the law can shape us in continuing to prepare for and engage in this historic day in the life of our church.

First, it can shape the way we reach out to those where we live work and play. I have a colleague in ministry who regularly reminds his folks of the three I’s – Intercede, Invest, and Invite. We will never have another opportunity quite like this one to invite unchurched people to a service. We still have some printed invitations available if you would like to come by the church and grab some. If you can only come after hours, let us know and we will leave some out for under the covered walkway.

Second, it can shape where we park and where we sit on Sunday. In our efforts to reach others, we may well have a full house on Sunday. To make room for the additional cars we have secured the use of the vacant lot to the south of our property. Please consider parking there or in other spots on the grass around the periphery to ensure plenty of spaces for our guests. Also, seating in the auditorium may be tough to come by. We will have the overflow sections (W1 & W5) set up. Please consider starting in one of those rooms to allow space for newcomers. Also, in the auditorium the back tends to fill up first. Consider coming to the front and filling in the rows to leave the outer seats available.

Third, it can shape they way we engage on Sunday. Rarely does anyone like visiting a church and going away without a warm greeting. Let’s look first for those we don’t know to talk with and save our familiar friends for later. May we follow that pattern in the reception hour after the service too. Let’s be ready to ask folks if they have any questions as they move around the building checking things out. Let’s put out the most hospitable welcome mat we can.

Fourth, it can shape the way finish up things on Saturday. Yes, that means another work party. We need to do some key things on the exterior in order to look a bit less like a jungle and more like a cultivated garden. I am concerned for this not only because of this Sunday, but also for the sake of our guests who will attend the Mitchell/Welsh wedding on the 13th. The fun starts at 8:30 AM. Please bring the standard lawn equipment (labeled with your name – rakes, weed pullers, wheel barrows, etc.) This is a great opportunity for anyone who has yet to pitch in on the new property to put in some volunteer hours as part of the body.

Why do I couch these things in terms of the gospel? Because reaching out to others in all these ways, our mission as a church, must stem from the fact that Jesus sought us out and bought us to make us His own. That is the only motivation that will sustain through any ministry effort.

May we all pray fervently that God in His grace will show up on Sunday with power and glory so that some indeed will bow the knee to King Jesus and know the all-satisfying joy of knowing Him!

Grand Opening Invites Have Arrived!

The invites are finally here.

We have 1000, plenty for everyone to give to folks that might have an interest in checking out our new digs this Sunday.

Drop by during regular business hours and pick up as many as you need. If you can come by after work and therefore need us to leave some on the porch for you, just let us know and we will be happy to do that for you.

I am planning on preaching a message from 1 Tim. 3:14-16 entitled Why Church? A Case for Christianity in our Many Gods  Age.

Please pray for the Spirit of God to work in the hearts of many.

We Interrupt This Ministry

Now that I have your attention.

That’s what it feels like.

Having to move the office this week so we can function out of our new building is a herculean task. In addition we needed to exit the SDA storage room once and for all. Checked that off the list today, with the help of a fabulous summer intern with a will to work. But all of this makes it really difficult to get after the work of the ministry that OGC is really about.

Teddie has declared war on the office move and has made a lot of progress. I go back in tomorrow to try and pack books and cull files. Everything is dictated this week by the looming deadline of the office move this Saturday. Please contact the deacons if you can help and need more information.

In the meantime it is a bit challenging to keep up with the emails, phone calls, texts and the like. We beg your forbearance during this week and next while we try to make this move happen. Hopefully things will return to normal as soon as possible and we can get back to the work we really love to do.

Of course, if you have an emergency, don’t hesitate to contact us, but be sure to call as opposed to email as I especially am not on line as often these two weeks.


Isn't "Work Party" an Oxymoron?

It most certainly is, but we’re having one anyway tomorrow morning on the OGC property from 8:30 Am to Noon.

Why another work party so soon? Didn’t we just do this last Saturday and a week ago Thursday?

Yes, indeed, we did. And we needed those efforts for sure.

But now we need another one of these shindigs tomorrow because the CO is now no longer a no-show. We got that elusive piece of paper earlier this afternoon. Personally, I think bagging a bull elk in the Idaho wilds takes less effort and happens more easily than getting one of these elusive pieces of paper.

For us to do our soft-soft launch Sunday at 10:45 AM, we still have a bunch of things to do. As I walked through the building with Greg and Chris on Thursday afternoon, we made a list. Here are some of the things we need to take care of that I can remember:

  • Storm debris and trash needs to be picked up around the property.
  • Weeds need to be pulled.
  • Mulch needs to be spread.
  • Plastic covers need to be removed from the entryway lights. This will take a 14 foot or so huge step ladder to get this done. Anybody have one or know somebody that does?
  • Sanctuary seating needs to be set up according to code.
  • Bathrooms needs to be cleaned.
  • Tile floors need to be mopped.
  • Soap and paper towel dispenses need to be installed in the rest rooms.
  • Vacuuming needs to be done.
  • Randy might need some help with wires and tech stuff.
  • Stuff needs to be moved from the SDA storeroom over to our property.
  • ???????????????????????????

Think about this. You may run out of opportunities to contribute to the opening of OGC’s brand new facility. We won’t schedule too many more of these. I don’t plan to miss out on the fun tomorrow because I want to be a part of this very special, once-in-a-life-time season in our church’s life. I’ve never done anything like this before. I am tickled pink to have the privilege. And then there is the eternal reward. It gets better and better the more I think about it.

Why sleep in tomorrow when you could take part in the last work party BEFORE OGC opens its doors for the very first time?

Beats me. I’m planning to work party for all its worth.

A Strategic Opportunity We Must Not Waste

As published last week, we aim to dedicate our new facility on July 29 at 6 PM in the evening. The occasion for dedicating a building to the glory of God provides an ideal opportunity for a rededicating of the people of God to their covenant commitments to Him and one another.

I take my cue for that notion from places like Nehemiah 9 and 10 where the people of Israel rededicated themselves to Yahweh upon completing the rebuilding of the walls surrounding Jerusalem. In the spirit of just such a renewal, our leadership has crafted a written covenant for the membership of OGC to sign as those who have helped build the facility and will worship and serve within it for years to come. The covenant and the various names will be framed and displayed in the entry way of the building as a testimony to God and His faithfulness through His people for this endeavor.

Here is how the covenant reads:

On this July 29, 2012 for the occasion of dedicating to the glory of God our church’s first facility constructed for worship and ministry, We, the members of Orlando Grace Church, bound together by gospel love in covenant membership and having undertaken in recent years to rebuild the “walls” and repair the “gates” of our beloved fellowship, in order to gladly and solemnly renew this firm covenant in writing, do hereby reflect the following commitments with God’s help as fully-devoted followers of our Lord Jesus:

  • We will relentlessly pursue our joy in God by abiding in Christ through the practice of the means of grace that are the spiritual disciplines (John 15:1-11).
  • We will diligently manifest our godliness of character by obeying God’s word through the power of His Spirit (2 Peter 1:5-11).
  • We will consistently fulfill our roles in society by embracing God’s design for functioning in each of the ordained spheres – home, church, and state (Colossians 1:18-21; 1 Peter 5:5; Romans 13:1).
  • We will lovingly share our faith with unbelievers by engaging them through a wise combination of gracious words and merciful works (Colossians 4:5-6).
  • We will strategically do our part in global missions by maximizing our investment through praying, sending, and/or going (Matthew 28:18-20).
  • We will zealously accomplish our ministries to others by using our spiritual gift(s) in the domain(s) of God’s calling (1 Peter 4:10-11).
  • We will faithfully manage our resources from God by utilizing them according to the principles of biblical stewardship (1 Timothy 6:17-19).
  • We will fervently demonstrate our love for believers by engaging in fellowship through keeping the covenants of church membership (Romans 12:9-13).

Signed believing only in the hope of the gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit for the strength and ability to do any and all of the above,

May I ask you to begin to pray now if the Lord would have you embrace this gesture during this strategic season and that you might be among those who will sign the document? More information will come as to how and when we will facilitate this, but we wanted to plant the seeds for this as soon as we knew when we would finally take ownership of our facility.

This is a terrific opportunity to examine our hearts and lives and rededicate ourselves to God’s glorious purposes as part of OGC!

To CO or Not to CO?

That is indeed the question.

As for this latest week in the saga of when in the world will OGC get into its new building, the answer is, I am sorry to say it, not to CO.

However, we are making progress. Next week may bring an entirely different response.

New handrails got installed today. We have requested a final building inspection. It may happen tomorrow or Monday. At this point, that remains undetermined.

As for the site, that work in regrading the approach should get finished over the weekend. A surveyor may or may not have to re-shoot the elevations which could lengthen the process of approval somewhat but not beyond next week.

The civil engineer needs to get what they call record drawings to the city from which they make something called Mylars. That might take a week. All depends.

All of that to say that we have a chance of having everything done by next Wednesday or so and then it depends on the city to answer the question of questions – to CO or not to CO?

So here is the deal. We definitely won’t be in the new building this Sunday, May 20. I plan to recommend to the board on Monday night in our leadership team meeting that we hold off on our first “soft opening” until June 3, just to be safe. Actually I have an ulterior motive in that suggestion. Nancy and I will be out of the country from the 27th to the 31st for our son’s wedding. Those plans have been on the books for months. I never thought they would conflict with the opening day of our facility. Just can’t imagine missing the first Sunday we get to take possession so I will ask for grace to wait until we get back.

So now you know what I know. I choose to believe that God has been working behind the scenes all along for His glory and our good in these delays. The timing will prove perfect as far as He is concerned. How could I conclude anything otherwise after what I preached last Sunday?

All I know is that we are in for a splendid time in our new digs. I can hardly wait. Can’t thank God enough for the privilege of getting to do this on our watch.

C O Wherefore Art Thou?

I am really looking forward to our church getting one of these from the City of Altamonte at some point in the near future.

Our fearless building committee chairman gave me the skinny today about where things stand after almost another full week of trying to dot every “I'” and cross every “T” on our site to the pleasure and approval of our government inspectors.

The good news is that we are really close to finishing the building proper. We expect to have the handrails go in tomorrow. Hopefully first thing next week we will schedule another inspection on the facility and we pass. If and when that happens, then Ross plans to go to the city for that conversation with the powers that be that he talked about last Sunday. He will petition them for a provisional C O that would allow us to occupy our building while we finish up items on our site.

Speaking of the site, the man holes have been adjusted. They need to be surveyed and inspected. We thought that was all we needed to do in the way of finishing up outside.

However, yesterday the Seminole County inspector came back for another pass on the property and brought some friends with him. The list suddenly got longer. Apparently we have some sidewalk to tear up and re-position. And a portion of our entry drive needs to get taken out and regraded and paved again. How long will that take, you ask? Good question, but if we don’t get that provisional C O we are likely looking at the end of the month before we finally get into our new facility.

Sigh. Double sigh. Triple sigh.

How many cliches can I quote you. It is what it is. Good things come to those who wait. Murphy’s law. If we didn’t have bad luck we wouldn’t have any luck at all. That’s probably not the best thing for somebody with my theology to say.

Think I would rather stick with the Scripture in Proverbs 21:1.

The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.

Just substitute inspector for king and you will get the picture.

As for me and my house, we will wait upon the Lord and renew our strength (Isa. 40:31).

How about yours?

Man-O-Manhole Cover!

Strange way to intro this blog post, yes? It will make sense quite quickly, I’m afraid.

Wednesday saw us undergo a number of inspections on our property. We faired pretty well on the inside. We passed some items; others need a little more fixing. But overall things look good for the CO from that vantage point.

I wish I could say we got the same high grades on the outside. Turns out we have a problem with not just one manhole cover (we had some inkling about that already). Apparently we have multiple manhole cover issues, two to be exact. Something’s not quite right. Don’t ask me. I don’t even want to know. Smarter folks than I have got it covered (pun intended).

So what’s the bottom line? This I do understand. It will take seven to ten construction days to fix the problem. Best case scenario now for our first soft opening looks like May 20. Wish I had better news for us, but I simply don’t. All I can tell you is that we are doing all that we can and working every angle possible to get closure on this deal. Please pray for wisdom to that end. And of course, please continue to pray for favor with the city.

I thought about concluding by saying something spiritual about the virtue of patience from texts like Romans 2:6-7 and James 4:7-11. But I have to be honest. I’m not feeling particularly spiritual at this moment. Think I’ll go look for a working manhole cover and crawl inside for a pastoral pity party.

Just kidding . . . I think.