As most of you know, last month I chose not to renew my contracts with my current church and Tyndale (IT department). This leaves me for the most part unemployed, with a lot of free-time on my hands. I did this sensing a call from the Lord to search for a full-time pastorate at a different church. The transition has not been easy, and I did this without even having another church lined up. Crazy eh?
Rather than hoping for a miracle to fall out of the sky, I’ve been trying to make a habit through a Pastor’s schedule every week. Not having to be burdened by a 30+ hour IT job anymore, I could devote more time toward ministry initiatives. My weekdays are not picture perfect and throughout the day I have battled a deeper sense of loneliness and spiritual warfare like I hadn’t before. Here’s what a typical week-day schedule looks like:
Morning – Prayer + devotions, sermon preparation, check emails and reply, handle Tyndale IT issues if any, household chores
Afternoon – Visitations (average three times a week), networking, self-study, read a book/internet article, watching/listening to sermons, gym
Night – church activities, family/friend time, looking up job boards, networking (church related, setting up appointments for the next week), leisure, end of day reflections
The Weekend is completely different. On Saturdays I’ve been helping out with the homeless ministry downtown at Toronto Alliance Church. This involves setting up/serving a ,and clothing drive, food bank, serving food, interacting with the patrons, and a brief church service all wrapped into one evening. Taking Transit and preparations means almost the entire day is gone.
Many times the Lord has convicted me of how greedy and selfish I can be dealing with these poor people. One time I silently refused to offer a TTC token to a teenager because I was paranoid he would sell it for drugs. Later one of the Pastor’s scrounged the whole building to find one (he didn’t have one on hand). Seeing one man go so far to help another, while I who claimed to give it all for the Lord but risk something so simple was convicting. Perhaps what cuts to my heart the deepest is to see how children have been affected by poverty. To see them shabbily dressed and willing to eat so meagerly is truly humbling. Yet also, I’ve found there’s tremendous joy in serving them as it’s akin to serving Christ himself. It’s one thing to read Matthew 25:38-40, and another to put it into practice. Great ministry, and I wish I had started much earlier. If you want to help even for one night, please let me know.
Finally on Sundays, I visit multiple churches that I’ve been praying about during the week. I visit usually based on recommendation, experiencing something different, knowing a Pastor there, or finding out that they are in need of a Pastor. Most of them are within my denomination (the Alliance). I’ve discovered that the needs are few for a young Pastor like me, and the search could take another 3-6 months. But I want to share with you some things the Holy Spirit has pointed out to me during the month.
The first is the area of leadership as it pertains to gifting. For myself, I’d be gifted in the area of the Pastor-teacher as per Ephesians 4:11. But what would be the ideal Pastor-teacher candidate look like? When I reached out to a transitional Pastor last month who specializes in helping out orphaned churches I found the answer. He pointed out to me that an ideal candidate should spend 50% of his time in bible-preaching and missional outreach, 30% on equipping/enabling believers, and 20% shepherding/care giving. He also mentioned that I should know my Bible inside out if I was to teach it with effective conviction. Truth be told, I wouldn’t be able to recite a chapter-chapter analysis of many books in the New Testament. I had been devoting my time the past 2 years to where I was weak – the shepherding part. But I wasn’t loving God’s word and storing it in my heart. I had reversed everything!
Second is the challenge of English ministry in a Chinese church. The need is great because Pastor’s generally burn out and leave these ministries within 5 years. I had a friend who I studied with in Seminary leave it within 2. Yet the question stares at me in the face, why don’t I apply to these churches specifically? After all, I speak the language, understand the cultural barriers, and grew up originally in the same setting.
I have a lot to unload here. But to keep things short, I’m taking my time. But before I even apply, I’m still seeking the Lord’s direction on how to even biblically lead such a congregation. As there are unique challenges toward leading a English congregation that is mainly Chinese (or any mono-ethnic) race that don’t exist in the multi-ethnic church that I’ve grown accustomed to today. I’m ‘jaded’ at the opportunity, but my heart is open toward change.
If you would like to help me, I think the best two options are to reach out directly and prayer. I’d love to talk with you during the week if you need personal time to unload. Otherwise, please pray that the Lord would show me a full-time pastor position in the area of an assistant pastor or associate pastor with great conviction.
I want to apologize for not having any blog updates for the past 5 months. Some was due to procrastination, others due to serious family issues, and also busyness of leaving two jobs and communities at the same time.
Creative Commons Image taken from goo.gl/HjM44u