The day I was told you’ve got cancer was darker than the other side of the moon.
Ministry life had been skipping along as usual.
However, my annual blood tests regime showed my PSA reading was trending high. A possible sign of prostate cancer.
My Doctor arranged a biopsy and my new year equilibrium was shattered by my dark side of the moon day.
After getting a second opinion I decide to proceed with invasive surgery and have my prostate removed.
Surgery presented genuine risks.
Severe incontinence and sexual dysfunction were possibilities and countenancing these dreaded outcomes took an emotional toll.
Thankfully I came through the procedure without those dreaded side effects and eleven years later I remain cancer free.
How do you survive traumatic scenarios like a cancer diagnosis and continue to thrive in ministry?
I pastored in our church for 30 years and during that time I not only survived cancer but mind-bending depression and my wife’s burnout. How do you avoid being crushed by the relentless toll of ministry especially when life throws you curve balls?
One of the more traumatic seasons of my life was a relational breakdown with a key mentor that led to 15 months of dark depression during which I suffered suicidal thoughts.[Read more…]
My good friend Ian Borkent has published his first book.
Ian pastors a superb church in Arnhem in the Netherlands with his wife, Jedidja.
Jedidja miraculously survived the birth of their daughter and that miracle forms the storyline of Ian’s book. The Norman Factor:Â Seven keys to living in breakthrough and victory
Enjoy this excerpt from the book.
That is the name of the mountain that spewed millions of litres of volcanic ash over Iceland, and consequently Europe. For a period of 6 days in April 2010, this led to an ash cloud so large that it was easily visible from space. The cloud covered almost the entirety of Europe. Aircraft engines can seriously be damaged by volcanic ash, so many countries had to close their controlled airspace. This resulted in the largest air-traffic shut-down since World War II in Europe.
Ten million passengers were affected. One of them was me.
And that was a problem. Or as I would like to call it, a challenge. We had tickets for 21 April out of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to a C3 Church Conference in Geneva, Switzerland. Conferences to pastors are like breath to our lungs. We connect with God and others for an extended period of time. We upload. We download. Especially for my wife, it was a welcome break after a busy year. So we both looked forward to the conference very much.
Jedidja was 6 months pregnant with our first child at the time, and it was about the last week she was allowed to fly. Taking a train or car to Switzerland would be too long for her body to deal with. She could only fly if she was to make it to the conference.
Or could she?
Every church experiences seasons of growth, plateau and decline.
It’s the naturalÂ rhythmÂ of life and it affects individuals as well as organisations.
There a multitude of things that to consider when your church stops growing.
When churches stop growing numerically there are a few helpful things that that pastors and leaders can do to handle this season in a healthy manner.
A pastor’s walk with Christ is the foundation of both healthy leadership and a healthy church.
Therefore, pastors should occupy the place of prayer regardless of whether the church is growing, plateaued or declining.
If your church is not growing, then your place of prayer is the place to cast your cares and burdens upon Christ and discover that he can sustain you through this season.
A fresh season of prayer, fasting and immersion in the Word of God can energise a pastor and lead them into fresh ways of thinking about their ministry, call and church.
This focus on personal spiritual renewal will increase the leader’s trust in Christ and can also bring a different perspective to their current season.
2. Enjoy Christ’s Exploits
A lack of growth brings discouragement to every leader.
An effective way to counter those disheartening feelings is to focus in on the various ways Christ is working in your church.
Simply ask your leaders and members this succinct question: what is the Lord currently doing in your life?
Give people space to answer that question and you’ll discover that Christ is at work in a multitude of small and large ways in your church.
We can miss the simple, yet powerful ways Christ is working byÂ focusingÂ on what is notÂ happeningÂ ratherÂ than discovering what is happening.