One of the big surprises of our recent tour of Turkey and Greece, and we are hoping Turkey will calm down to welcome tourists again, was meeting some folks I had not met. One of whom is Nelson Searcy, a leader and networker extraordinaire, who wrote The Renegade Pastor. The subtitle both defines what “renegade” means and poses the alternative: Abandoning Average in Your Life and Ministry. (See more about him here.)
I have a times said “ordinary is OK” but what I mean by “ordinary” is not what Nelson means by “average.” The issue is settling for too little, so he sketches what “average” means when it comes to pastoring, and Nelson thinks like an engineer out to isolate problems and solve them.
Sometimes pastors face the wall; sometimes they let the wall get built; sometimes they scale the wall; sometimes they have to knock it down. There is no one model for churches or for pastoring, but this book is a bit of a kick in the shins for the leader who has more or less given up on a church reaching its potential. Full of practical wisdom and pragmatics, The Renegade Pastor is a good I recommend to the readership of the Jesus Creed.
The Average Pastor Church:
• Attendance declining by 9% every year Always behind on budget
• Lacking sufficient volunteers
• Seeking new pastor every 18 months
• Unable to say yes to God’s purposes
• Frustrated Short on time
• Lives a reactive life
• Has strained relationships with family and friends
• Not experiencing fulfillment
The issue here is not a program but a heart that has acquiesced, caved in, and lack godly pastoral ambition to reach out, to grow, and to deepen.
The alternative to the average pastor who has settled for too little is the pastor willing to jump out of the box, to think again, and to strive for more — and Nelson calls this the Renegade Pastor:
The Renegade Pastor
• Abandons average
• Challenges status quo thinking
• Obedient to God
• Rebels against resistance and mediocrity
• Contrarian for Kingdom purposes
• Student of what works and what doesn’t work in life and ministry
• Passionately abandoned to the plans of God
• Pastors a healthy, growing church
• Enjoys authentic relationships with family and friends
• Dedicates time to personal and professional growth
• Lives a proactive life
• Experiences fulfillment in life and ministry
I have seen all sorts of reasons why pastors no longer think a church can expand, deepen, and grow. For instance, I now hear (especially on the blog world) that we live in a postmodern world, or in post Christendom, that full-time ministry is too expensive, churches are too expensive, salaries are too expensive and bi-vocationality is the new mode of pastoral existence. We need some renegades to fight that mindset.
Mind you, there are small churches; this is not a critique of small churches but about churches reaching their potentiality. Not all churches can become megachurches (thank God) but churches can move forward. That is the heart of Nelson Searcy’s model of the renegade pastor.
The Renegade Pastor has seven commitments — according to Nelson Searcy:
1. Follow the Lord
2. Love your family
3. Fulfill your calling
4. Manage your time
5. Shepherd your flock
6. Maximize your church
7. Expand God’s kingdom
There are a number of church leaders today who need this book because they’ve surrendered any hope for a church reaching more of its potential.