Kingdom ministries are not supposed to “blow up” and send followers running away from mission.

Missional families are not supposed to be “sacrificed” on the altar of vision and success.

Passionate Jesus-servants are not supposed to “flame out” way too early.

BUT, it happens…

Anger rages, hurt erupts and tears flow.


And then comes the sad and heart-rending commentary…

“I love Jesus but I hate the ‘Church’ and I am done with IT.”

“I thought it was going to be different this time, but, in the end, it was just more of the same old stuff.”

“I trusted him [or her or them] – never again!”

“I just got lost in our ‘success’ and felt so lonely that it hurt..”

“No matter how much I gave, it was never enough.”

“If someone, ANYONE, would only have stopped long enough to listen to me…”

“My marriage and my family matter to me – why didn’t they matter to the ministry?”

“The way we were doing the work of God was destroying God’s work in me…” [Bill Hybels]

“I am tired, broken and done – ‘stick a ministry fork in me’ – I’m gone.”

“This just may be my last shot at this ministry ‘thing’.”



[1] Leaders [and vision] gone wild – ministry success matters more than people.

We need leaders! Vision is essential! Passion is non-negotiable!

But what happens when leaders are so captivated and enamored with THE vision that they forget the people God has surrounded them with? How frequently we lose sight of the journey because we are fixated on the next victory we want to achieve…

What happens when high-octane leaders begin to use friends and followers to make the vision happen? Servant leadership can become self-serving in a heartbeat…

The larger, over-arching Kingdom vision is critically significant, BUT, what about the outworking of that vision in persons, spouses and children?

Do families matter in our Kingdom quest?

Isn’t “family” part of the BIGGER ‘big picture’?

Jesus LOVED his followers – He did NOT use them to accomplish His Abba-inspired Kingdom vision [see John 13.1]… I repeat – Jesus loved FIRST and FOREMOST!

This first cause hurts.

I have been THIS leader radically pursuing THAT vision – leaving a trail of carnage on my way to ministry success.

I have repented. I have worked to reconcile. I have invited people around me to help me change. I have named my addiction and even joined Celebrate Recovery to facilitate my healing process…

But, I still grieve over the excesses, mistakes and drivenness of my youth…


Question: are we loving our people or using our people?

[2] Organizational life-cycle theory is real [and sometimes a harsh reality] – movements “morph” in directions we don’t always anticipate or even like…

Kingdom ministry is a marathon endeavor, not a sprint.

Spirit-breathed movements launch with white-hot passion, intense focus and a burst of catalytic energy.

Exhilarating! Intoxicating! Fulfilling! Heady stuff!

Movements can become self-consuming and even addictive as the “new wine” flows [and oh how we love to imbibe!].

BUT, movements can be complicated by “life”…

Marriages happen… Children are born… Pressure builds… Stuff “happens”… Life is always unfolding…

The transition can be SO very fragile as the movement attempts to morph from the sprint mentality to a marathon modality… I mean, after all, isn’t it our team goal to finish well TOGETHER?

Leaders [and teams] can struggle in navigating this inevitable shift…

Some will not make it!

Carnage often results when teams never morph from the frenetic sprint into the marathon rhythm.

The short-term launch pace becomes destructive if it never finds long-term sustainability.

It never seems we can “get our second-wind”… We need BREATH!

And then, one day, the movement “settles in” and begins to look and feel institutional.

The Kingdom vision has become an organization…

Life-cycle theory, that “thing” that would NEVER apply to us [NO WAY!], suddenly DOES and it is NOT a joyful feel! OH YES [and oh me]!

Progress slows… Plateaus follow… The battle against decline ramps up…

More pain!


Question: are we being honest about the current “season” of our ministry [or are we living in denial]?

[3] Failure to take the primal blueprint seriously [APEST] – we have a model that is better than Jesus’ plan…

Missional movements are ignited and fueled by apostolic genius. Apostles are catalysts for fresh vision. They motivate teams to engage opportunity and to coalesce in unity for the Kingdom cause. Apostles light visionary fires!

Teachers teach and cast vision – giving voice to the Kingdom dream…

Evangelists share Good News, “sell” the vision and recruit devoted followers for the cause….

Prophets keep the plumb line in place to fight ethical and core value drift…

Pastors shepherd and care for the well-being of the whole team…

All is well as long as the APEST people-gifts are ALL fully functioning and welcomed.

But, need I remind you, we live in a fallen world!

Apostles can be driven and can become frustrated – especially with care-givers.

Soul care can easily be shelved in view of the incessant demands of the all-consuming vision. People, colleagues we love, get used and abused for the “higher good” of the dream…

And then, something is lost that cannot afford to be lost when shepherds are not valued and fully released into pastoral ministry… Have we lost our “heart”?

Health declines! Pace of life goes wild! Small relational cracks become frightening deep ravines! Souls sour! Spirits crumble!

But, even as the crisis of care mounts, the vision demands MORE forward thrust.

It is a hungry beast and must be fed!

Some APEST people-gifts emerge as being MORE important…


Question: are we welcoming ALL the APEST Holy Spirit given people-gifts to our leadership round table? Are we listening and valuing each one?


[1] Start with the end in mind [how do we finish well?]…

Decide from the beginning that loving people is the priority!

God has called us to LOVE those He has entrusted to our care.

People are MORE important than the vision.

We will NOT use people to achieve our vision – we will love each other and pursue God’s Kingdom dream for us TOGETHER!

We will give grace and space.

The end, finishing well, finds our healthy team celebrating ministry success TOGETHER!

[2] Embrace the inevitable [but challenge it]…

We are human. We have limitations. Life is consuming.

Ministry is not a commitment to serial sprints that leave us fatigued and empty – especially when it comes to loving our families.

Healthy ministry is a marathon – developing a sustainable rhythm of life for the long haul.

And, from time to time, when our prized movements have succumbed to organizational life cycle realities, they must be creatively re-envisioned and freshly launched.

This is not failure – this is deliverance from denial and the embracing of reality!

New wineskins for the new wine of Holy Spirit!

[3] Commit fully to APEST…

The primal blueprint is for exponential growth through APEST – all 5 people-gifts are critical.

Pursue a team where all APEST gifts are present – and VALUED!

This is God’s plan – we can trust it…

As a missional PASTOR with quite a few miles on me, my heart breaks over the CARNAGE – sometimes caused by ME…

I hope these thoughts are redemptive in encouraging and exhorting us to pursue the Kingdom of God as our primary concern [Luke 12.31] – and to do so with a commitment to health as we truly love God and one another in the pursuit of our Kingdom dream…

Let’s not add to the CARNAGE!

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