Ministry Has No Promotions

Since we announced last week that God has called our family to serve Rocky Creek Baptist Church in Greenville, SC, we have been overwhelmed with love and support.  From those at Rocky Creek, those at North Side, and those on the outside, we have been so encouraged by those who have offered prayers and supportive words.

Among all the kind comments, I did want to clarify one thing:

I am not getting a ministry promotion.

I understand that it might look that way if you view a hierarchy of a staffing organizational chart, but I do not view myself as getting a ministry advancement.  My title is changing, my responsibilities are increasing, and my city is larger, but that doesn’t change the heart of what I do or what I have done.  For this to be a promotion means that what I have done in previous years and what countless others of ministers do day in and day out is not important.  I just can’t buy that.  Regardless of what goes before “Pastor” on your business card (worship, student, administrative, etc.), you are a pastor first and foremost!

The Spirit gives all believers gifts and they differ from one another (Rom 12:6).  We are supposed to use our gifts to serve one another within the church (1 Pet 4:10).  While these gifts are varied, they are all given by the same Spirit (1 Cor 12:4).  God appoints people into different positions but we all do our part as a part of the Body of Christ (1 Cor 12:27-28).

For our family, we believe that God has been working in numerous unnoticed ways for years to get us at this time to step out in faith for this next assignment.  While I am taking on the role of Senior Pastor at Rocky Creek and moving from Family and Worship Pastor at North Side, I have never sought a “step up” in the ministerial world.

Kingdom Building Résumés

I cringe at the résumé building, intentional networking, sacred stair-stepping, corporate ladder-climbing that I see so often in the ministry.  

How do you expect to be faithful in your next calling if you are not faithful in your present calling?  God rewards faithfulness (Matt 25:23).

Shepherd the flock among you (1 Pet 5:2) and not the flock beyond you.  

Just to clarify, I do think some church situations are toxic – unfortunately, I hear too many horror stories to count.  Of course, there are certain valid reasonings to consider moving your family somewhere else.  In reality, I often hear invalid reasonings for people moving churches to apparently greener pastures.

When ministers “baptize” corporate America’s mentality regarding the reasonings for job changes, all of our congregations are in trouble.  

Over the years, I have been able to talk with many search teams who were either asking me regarding my interest in a position or doing a reference for a friend of mine who was interested in a position.  Tragically, I have heard so often from lay leaders within different congregations lines like this:

  1. We have plenty of people who want a job but not many of them seem to have a calling.
  2. He seems to be so eager to get out of his current situation, it appears we are just going to be a rebound church for him.
  3. He seems to be running from something more than running to something.

God’s Will Right Here and Right Now

Personally, I am thankful for all the well-wishes and congratulations regarding Rocky Creek.  I appreciate anyone congratulating our family on saying yes to God, but I believe you could have been saying that to me everyday for the last 14 years as I have served the wonderful people of North Side.  I believe that I was obedient in my calling then and now.  Let’s congratulate faithfulness over advancement.

Last Wednesday, as a group of college students filled my playroom floor with questions ready and Bibles open, I shared with them from Esther 4 and our story of how God got us to where we are.  While they were encouraging and somber, I told them this in all sincerity: “I am not getting a promotion.  I cannot think of a higher calling in life than to have you students in our home and be given the opportunity and privilege to disciple you.  There is no greater reward in ministry than having you here with our family.”

I truly mean that.

Too many people are often focused on God’s will out there and miss it right here.  

Maybe the Lord is preparing you for a new position, but maybe the way he is preparing you is giving you the opportunity to be faithful right where he has you right now.

Travis Agnew is a Christian, husband, father, pastor, author, blogger, and religion instructor.

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2 Comments

  1. I’m thankful that you share Gods wisdom. It really encourages me to seek His truth instead of the worlds, and I thank you for teaching me over the years. It has been such a blessing.

  2. John Alexander

    Great word brother… I was in a small (rural) church seminar recently where the instructor said “if you view your small church as as a stepping stone to a larger one, do your congregation a favor and resign this Sunday” ….. powerful statement (and true).

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