A Journey From Misery to Mission

The journey began in late November 2011.  I call this a journey as I find myself continually growing as I progress in the direction that the Lord has set for me.  This journey did not have a “good” beginning but one of great challenges.

The last thing I ever expected to be doing was to be crying my heart out to a stranger over the phone.  But this is what I found myself doing as I made the call to IBL.  This call took every ounce of strength I had to humble myself and swallow my pride.  I had hit rock bottom and was in desperate need of help, and that is exactly what I found on the other side of the telephone line.  David Phelan answered the call on that pivotal day in my life and in the life of the church that I pastor.  I praise God for a calm, rational, voice of reason that could help me see all that our Lord was doing in and through me.  It was refreshing to speak to a leader who could see things from a Kingdom perspective and had the ability to help refocus me on the Lord’s purposes as He has revealed it in His Word.  I am thankful for a brother in Christ who would demonstrate the heart of Christ as he dealt with me in a nonjudgmental and compassionate manner.

As a leader who “had it all together,” I woke up one day to find that the “rug” had been pulled out from under me.  I was left feeling deserted, betrayed, heartbroken, distressed, and completely hopeless.  The church that the Lord had entrusted to me found itself in a very precarious position as one of the main leaders had exited the ministry and left hurt feelings, confusion, unanswered questions, and much distress in his wake. A church that was once thriving had become a battle zone.  I found myself in unchartered waters, dealing with dissension, an implosion of leadership structure and a lack of infrastructure to deal with the pressing issues of the day.  Words cannot begin to express the sense of hopelessness I was experiencing.   I was in desperate need of help! The church was in desperate need of strong leadership that could navigate through this conflict.  The church was in need of leadership that could unify the church and focus her on her main purpose of glorifying God.  We needed help.

I am deeply grateful for a dear friend, confidant and fellow soldier of the Cross, for referring me to the ministry of the Institute of Biblical Leadership.  The journey that had a very challenging start was about to get more focused, structured and purposeful as the gifted men of IBL came alongside of me and helped me to progress toward the goal of exalting Christ.  The challenges did not change however there was now a group who were willing to travel this road with me.  David Phelan and Derick Jarvis have been an incredible source of encouragement and help in thinking through the challenges and coaching me in making the necessary changes and implementing the necessary structures and procedures for making the church more effective for the Kingdom.

Over a period of ten months David and Derick met with me and helped me deal with the inner conflict that I was dealing with as I navigated through the maze of emotions and feelings of failure and depression.  It was very refreshing to hear men speak hope into my life.  They reaffirmed me in my calling and helped to refocus me on that which the Lord had called me to.  My misery was now being transformed to mission!   The healing that has come from our Lord has been sweet.

On many occasions David and Derick tagged teamed on conference calls and face-to-face meetings as they coached me through the major issues that needed to be addressed.  These sessions were a great blessing as they gave me a different perspective, enabling me to see issues from multiple perspectives. Most importantly, the coaching I received was Biblically driven and impartial, leaving me better equipped to make informed and better educated decisions.

The challenges that the church faced were numerous as the church found itself without an official leadership structure, without a procedural policy, and a lack of understanding with regard to the importance of co-laboring for Christ.  All this was compounded by the financial constraints that the church was facing.

It was encouraging to have David and Derick spend endless hours with the church’s leadership team in teaching and equipping them to be effective in the ministry that God had placed them in.  The leadership seminars were a great help to the church.  The availability and approachability of the facilitators was refreshing for all and served as an example to this newly founded leadership group of what competent leadership looks like.  Within a matter of months we had an official leadership team who was equipped to move the church forward for the glory of God. The church was now in a place where it could sense a fresh breath of optimism, with a visible leadership group that could navigate the exciting future that God had for us.  The journey from misery was now becoming a lot more mission-focused.

The church has progressed through an intentional strategic process in order to have new policies, procedures and ministries put in place.  The assistance that IBL gave in guiding us in developing and implementing these policies and procedures has been invaluable.  The church finds itself continuing in this exciting journey as we have now been able to compose meaningful documents that will serve the church well as we continue on the journey that our Lord has set us on.

Another challenge we faced on this journey was of a cultural nature.  Having grown up in a different country, I had great need for a clearer understanding of the role of the pastor and that of the deacon fellowship.  David and Derick helped me bridge this cultural gap so that I would be more effective in my role and more focused on specific tasks of being a pastor.  After much training from IBL on the roles and qualifications for pastors and deacons, we have been able to put a Biblical leadership structure in place.  Having clear Biblical teaching on these important fundamentals for church leadership has meant a lot to the church as a whole, as it has clarified expectations and set achievable goals for all involved.

Reflecting on the past months, I am filled with awe for what our Lord has been able to accomplish.  He allowed the paths of our church and the Institute of Biblical Leadership to cross for His glory.  God has been glorified as we have worked together to see His Kingdom being furthered in our community. IBL is truly a “para church” ministry as they have come alongside of our church and have walked side-by-side along this journey from misery to mission!  Thanks IBL!

Note:  The author of this article is a pastor who contacted us after being referred by one of our Board Members. Derick and David have worked with him and his leadership team for almost a year.  -David Phelan