How God uses others to lead us to spiritual healing (from the EFCA blog)
As I left the church building, I was physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausted. I resigned my position as senior pastor and didn’t know if I’d ever serve as a pastor again. Though all parties involved carried out my departure honorably—and I was departing of my own accord—I had a bitter taste in my mouth and a cynical attitude in my heart.
For three years, I had found myself in the center of a church conflict that was both painful and damaging. It was personal at times, and my family and I were injured. I witnessed people whom I loved and served turn against me, unfairly accuse me and question my integrity. It was a small and murmuring constituency, but over time, their behavior—unchecked by the elders—escalated, increasing my stress and moving me toward burnout.As pastors, we know that, sometimes, pain will be directed at us and result in pain for us.TWEET
In his book, Clergy Self-Care, Roy M. Oswald distinguishes between these two forces—stress and burnout. Stress results in loss of perception, loss of options, fatigue, depression and illness. Burnout follows stress and results in exhaustion, cynicism, disillusionment and self-deprecation.
Amid that stress and burnout, I had a sense of God’s presence and peace, but the exhaustion, cynicism and self-deprecation remained. The church graciously provided me a season of salary and benefits, for which my family and I will always be grateful, but financial stability couldn’t resolve those lingering effects. I needed to face the injury and find healing.
During the year that followed, I stepped away from pastoral ministry. In this time, God gradually brought me to a place of forgiveness and hope that allowed me to return to serving as a pastor once again.
Click here to continue reading about the Recovery Shepherds the Lord brought to James.
Rev. Dr. Chi Eng Yuan
In the last forty years burnout among pastors has become epidemic. And research reveals a cause-and-effect relationship between burnout and leaving the ministry. Gary McIntosh, in It Only Hurts on Monday, cites the results of a survey of pastors who had recently left the ministry and concluded that 40% experienced a form of burnout.
“Emotional exhaustion was recognized as fatigue caused by extensive interaction with others, depersonalization was characterized by development of an uncaring and cynical attitude toward others, and lack of personal accomplishment was indicated by deterioration of self-confidence and decreased personal satisfaction with one’s achievement.”Maslach Burnout Inventory Manual, Christina Maslach
As a Chinese pastor of Hong Kong Evangelical Free Churches, I am especially interested in the causes of burnout among pastors. (Survey results from 2006-2007 North Am. Chinese EFCs):
“I just can’t hold it together anymore. I’m disappointed with a lot of things that happened in the church.”Chinese EFC Pastor, 2006 survey
Burnout can produce a profound and lasting depression.
“Under continued pressure the protective and regulatory mechanisms become disturbed and the emergency system of the body uses up its reserves. Consequently, the person becomes less flexible, more guarded and sensitive, and depression ensues. In such cases the depression is both a protective mechanism and a reaction to the increased possibility of loss that comes from a diminished physical capacity for coping with life and work.”Coping with Depression in Ministry and Other Helping Professions, Archibald D. Hart
For the complete paper, including Biblical examples of depression and six factors contributing to burnout click here.
|We hope you enjoyed the virtual Theology Conference in February and continue to find refreshment in the Psalms! If you missed it, links to two inspiring sessions and all the rest are here. |
Several dozen EFCA leaders joined the zoom for our annual Network business meeting. You can look over the highlights or watch the whole meeting. This video includes testimonies from our eight board members (and a few others) on the importance of relational connectivity in the EFCA. Be encouraged by stories of mentors and peers who have shaped our lives and ministries.
Who has invested well in you? How have you benefited from relationships with other EFCA leaders? That is what the Network is all about—encouraging relational connections among all of our leaders. Here is our challenge for Spring 2021: grab one or two EFCA friends and record a video (no more than 3 minutes) sharing how you have encouraged, supported and challenged one another. Upload your video to your online storage site (Google drive, Dropbox, OneDrive) and send the link to email@example.com.
Every EFCA leader who participates in this contest will receive a $10 gift card to Chick-fil-A, Panera or Starbucks. Please indicate your gift card preference and include your names and mailing addresses with your video submission. The Network Board will choose the top three videos and award $50 restaurant gift cards. Videos must be received by June 30!
“And it is our prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11
Gratefully yours in Christ,
the Network Board
The Psalms have served as the prayer and worship book for God’s people for thousands of years. Our 2021 Theology Conference walked through the Psalms, opening them up for us from many wonderful angles.
How is the Psalter arranged? Why is David’s writing so highlighted in the first two sections? What do the superscriptions tell us?
This session from Dr. James Hamilton (Southern Seminary) provides an inspiring and insightful overview of the structure and message of the whole book of Psalms. What you’ll hear is how beautifully and masterfully even the arrangement of this book is – as inspired by the Holy Spirit. Click the link above for the podcast. Or watch the video here:
Another excellent session on the Psalms relates to the topic of lament. Click here for the audio podcast. Or watch this session here:
The Psalms are a wonderful gift from the Lord to guide us as we prayerfully seek Him. Use them often and use them well! Don’t just read the Psalms, pray them back, line by line, to the Lord!
The Network Board provided an overview of our vision to connect EFCA leaders for the sake of character, clarity and commitment to our shared mission. Each of the eight board members shared what relationships in our movement have meant to us, then we opened it up for others on the Zoom to share their experience of the value of connectivity.
Credentialed leaders present unanimously approved Paulo Friere to begin a second term on the board. All other board members are continuing in their service. Leaders also approved the 2021 budget above.
“We are the Network” videos may be submitted to Darin Anderson (firstname.lastname@example.org). All who submit will get a $10 gift card of their choice (Chick-fil-A, Starbucks or Panera). The Network Board will award the top video a $100 Visa Card prize. Videos must be submitted by Easter Sunday! Grab one or two EFCA leaders and share how you encourage one another. Focus on how your connections with one another foster character, clarity and/or commitment. Conclude your video by saying, “We are the Network!”
This is a list of credentialed EFCA leaders who have 1) gone home to the Lord, 2) reached lifetime status (age 65), or 3) been granted a new credential. Congratulations to all!
Those who Graduated to Glory
|Pak Fai Chan||Laguna Woods, CA|
|Eldon Elsberry||Central City, NE|
|Robert Falk||Sun City West, AZ|
|John Hierholzer||Fredericksburg, TX|
|Neil Jentink||Colorado Springs, CO|
|Wesley Johnson||Motley, MN|
|Duane Kraklow||Rock Island, IL|
|Howard Lanphear||Madison, WI|
|Charles Lovely||Lexington, KY|
|Eugene Ongna||Escondido, CA|
Leaders who reached Lifetime Status
|Randall Ahlberg||Ham Lake, MN|
|Paul Baum||Platteville, WI|
|Patrick Bonnie||Pinckney, MI|
|Frank Boyer||Mount Pleasant, SC|
|Robert Bressert||Davenport, IA|
|Timothy Buck||Dover, NH|
|Robert Burris||Orange, CA|
|Bruce Camp||Dana Point, CA|
|Kenneth Carlson||Sanborn, IA|
|Dale Clifton||Milaca, MN|
|Christopher Crye||La Crosse, WI|
|Terry DeZonia||Little Rock, AR|
|Duane Dietze||Sumida Ku, Tokyo,|
|Robert Dillon||Wheaton, IL|
|James Dorsey||Land O Lakes, FL|
|Gordon Douglas||Albuquerque, NM|
|Michael Downey||Charles City, IA|
|John Edgecomb||Southworth, WA|
|Steven Eisinger||Indianapolis, IN|
|Patrick Foutz||Seattle, WA|
|Richard Grady||Colorado Springs, CO|
|Daryl Griffin||Fergus Falls, MN|
|Mark Halstrom||Tacoma, WA|
|Robert Harrell||Austin, TX|
|Michael Hermanson||Denison, TX|
|Kurt Hettinga||Clintonville, WI|
|Paul Hofrichter||Central City, NE|
|Richard Hubert||Paynesville, MN|
|Timothy Johnson||Eden Prairie, MN|
|Peter Johnson||Hershey, PA|
|Randal Kay||Lawrence, KS|
|Douglas Kehr||Milliken, CO|
|Donald LeClere||Marshall, MN|
|Jess Mahon||Estes Park, CO|
|Alejandro Mandes||Helotes, TX|
|Martin Martin||Butte, MT|
|Gary Mayes||Gilbert, AZ|
|William McClure||Valparaiso, IN|
|Kenneth Moberg||Wausau, WI|
|Robert Moeller||North Barrington, IL|
|Harold Netland||Vernon Hills, IL|
|Preston Parrish||Charlotte, NC|
|Douglas Peck||Crestwood, KY|
|Rick Pierson||Naperville, IL|
|Mark Pietscher||Rockford, MI|
|Brian Rathbun||Fairport, NY|
|Daniel Reeve||Newark, NJ|
|Daniel Reimer||Murray, KY|
|Steve Scott||Midland, MI|
|James Seal||Wayne, NE|
|Osvaldo Silveira D’Avila||Round Lake, IL|
|Robert Slack||Dublin, CA|
|David Smith||San Antonio, TX|
|Richard Stanghelle||Lindstrom, MN|
|Gilbert Stieglitz||Roseville, CA|
|Mark Swirsky||Roseville, CA|
|James Thulson||Canon City, CO|
|Robin Tyner||Cedar Rapids, IA|
|Kenneth Warwick||Faribault, MN|
|Douglas White||Toccoa, GA|
|Ted White||Strafford, NH|
|Randall Widbin||Sioux Center, IA|
|David Wiersbe||Caledonia, MN|
|Chi Eng Yuan||Highlands Ranch, CO|
Leaders who received a new 5 year renewable credential
|M. Ryan Harding|
|Cleveland Ragsdale, II|
|G. Scott Richerson|
|L. Charles Wright|
Leaders who received ordination
Leaders granted transfer of Ordination
|J. Aaron Martin|
Leader who received expedited Ministry License
Did you know the EFCA has a child sponsorship program?
Did you know that right now 870 children are waiting for a $35/month sponsor?
Did you know that Global Fingerprints integrates into the EFCA mission to glorify God by multiplying transformational churches among all peoples? They partner with local Gospel-centered churches to not only care for children in need but to see whole communities transformed!
Contact Tom Pankratz to learn more today!
“We believe God has called GlobalFingerprints to care for children in desperate poverty. We know to do that well Jesus Christ and the local church must be at the center of all we do. Where a local church exists, we train and empower members of that church to minister to the GlobalFingerprints sponsored children in their community… In some countries where there is no local church, GlobalFingerprints opens the door for a church to be planted.”From the Global Fingerprints 2020 Report
It’s been a hard week for many of us since the storming of the Capitol last week. And that’s on top of an already hard year leading up to it. Our country is a hot mess. Our social media feeds are a dumpster fire of fear, anxiety, misinformation, rumors, and panic. A lot of us are hurting and on edge as we try to take it in. Many of us aren’t even sure what to believe, or who’s telling the truth. Maybe we don’t want to believe what our eyes clearly see. Many of us are sad, anxious, and afraid, even upset with one another. All of us are overwhelmed in some way.
The reaction for many of us has been to up our media consumption. Whether we’re fixated on cable news, hate-reading our social media feeds, scouring the blogosphere, or getting into fights in the comments sections, we find ourselves being drawn ever deeper into the existential crisis of it all, retweeting our favorite hot takes, and arguing as though the end of the world is at hand.
But I’m convinced that what many of us (myself included) truly need in this moment is a gospel reset. This is an invitation to take a three-day fast from social media, news, blogs, posts, and whatever opinion pages are floating around, and instead devote ourselves to the Word of God and prayer. Whatever time you would be spending watching the news for scrolling through your feeds, spend it with the Lord instead. This Bible study, which I put together for our Stonebridge family, is designed to guide you through that time.
Here’s how it works:
1. Get a partner. Whether it’s your small group, a friend, or a spouse, find someone to commit to doing this with you. Not only does this provide accountability for the fasting component, but an opportunity to encourage one another, process what you’re learning, and support each other moving forward.
2. Get off social media and the news. Fasting from media is a critical part of this process. Not because we shouldn’t be informed; being informed is a good thing. But how are we filtering the information we’re taking in? Whose voices are dominating the way we think about things? What’s our grid for discerning what is true? How is it affecting our hearts, our words, our behaviors, and our blood pressure? What many of us need is a spiritual detox, cleansing the garbage that clogs and clutters our souls, that the Word of God might take priority once more, and that the kingdom of God might reclaim our proper allegiance. For some of us this might require deleting certain apps from our phone for a time. Whatever it takes to get off the apps, push away from the keyboard, turn off the news, and open our Bibles.
3. Get in the Word. The point of a fast is not just going without something; it’s replacing it with something better. A hunger for God and the nourishment of his Word. The following Bible study is designed to guide you in reading, reflecting on, and applying God’s Word to our lives in this moment, specifically 1 Peter 1-2. Day one focuses on God’s kingdom and the object of our hope. Day two looks at our character and what ought to flow from our hearts. Day three helps us consider our conduct and how we carry ourselves as followers of Christ.
Because some of us may have more time on our hands than others, depending on our typical media consumption, we’ve also provided a “Going Deeper” section for each day, which takes you through an additional passage of Scripture for study, prayer, and reflection.
So find a partner, pick your days, and let’s let gospel of Jesus reset our hearts, hope, and perspective.
Day One: Kingdom | 1 Peter 1:1-12
Going Deeper: Romans 8:18-39
Day Two: Character | 1 Peter 1:13–2:10
Going Deeper: Matthew 5:1-16
Day Three: Conduct | 1 Peter 2:11-25
Going Deeper: Romans 12:9-21