Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2 CSB)
This exhortation from the author of Hebrews to “run with endurance the race that lies before us” resonates deeply in the soul of anyone who has pastored a replant. Endurance is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the ability to withstand hardship or adversity.” The charge from Hebrews is more than sheer endurance, but to keep running in the right direction. A replant pastor requires what I call “pastoral grit.”
Pastoral grit is the ability to persevere through the inevitable difficulties of replanting and remain steadfast to shepherd the church forward as God uses the replanter to turn a dying church around.
In her book Grit:The Power of Passion and Perseverance, New York Times best-selling author Angela Duckworth defines grit as “having a goal you care about so much that it organizes and gives meaning to almost everything you do. And grit is holding steadfast to that goal no matter what happens.”
A replanter with pastoral grit demonstrates a commitment to and a love for the local church, with all its scars, wounds, and dysfunction. He is someone who willingly faces not only self-inflicted pains from his own messes in ministry but also inherited pains left by others.
There are at least four essential elements needed to have pastoral grit.
Replanting a dying church is a weird hobby to pick up, and not a very good one. Effective replant pastors are passionate about reclaiming the glory of God in dying churches. Replant pastors are clear about their calling. In the darkest hours of replanting ministry, knowing God called you to this work will be the light that keeps you going. Passion requires setting aside hindrances and distractions that so easily ensnare us. In this way, passion gives us a kind of laser vision.
Are you trying to please God or please man? This is a question you likely have never wrestled with theologically. However, when pastoring a church of any kind, you will ultimately wrestle with the practical implications of this question. Pastoral grit requires the replant pastor to live more by theological conviction than circumstantial convenience. The effective replant pastor follows the instructions of Hebrews to keep running with his eyes on Jesus. He understands that the church is Christ’s bride and Christ is the head of the church.
The replant pastor is called to what one author calls “long obedience in the same direction.” The author of Hebrews calls this “running with endurance.” According to Sam Parkison, “The task of a replanter is not an easy one. A replanter is someone who willingly faces not only self-inflicted pains from his own messes in ministry, but also the pains inherited by the messes of others.” The effective replant pastor is willing to keep running, even when it means suffering. Hebrews says Jesus endured his suffering for the joy set before him. The replant pastor knows he is running to joy as well.
The prior three elements build a gritty perspective for the replanting pastor. The passion and clarity of the replanter’s calling to reclaim glory for dying churches keeps the pastor on task. Running with his eyes on Jesus, the replanter knows he serves a higher purpose. Leading the church forward in the midst of suffering requires the right perspective. That perspective can be hard to find in the fog of war. This is why a mentor can be so valuable for a replant pastor. We need someone who has been there before and can help keep our eyes on Jesus.
Pain is inevitable while leading a replant. The replanter is called to more than just endurance; he is called to keep running and leading the church to Jesus. This requires pastoral grit.
Keep running your race!,
Published January 29, 2020