I grew up within two hours driving distance of one of the country’s older mega-churches. It was a mega-church long before that term was coined and was led by two of the most respected pastors in the nation. After they completed their latest facility in a brand new location, they actually had volunteers to provide tours for guests popping in throughout the week. At the time I thought it was such a cool thing to go for a visit, walk through the expansive building, and hear the grand story of how God had made it all possible.

My church experience and seminary training pointed me in the direction this mega-church had traveled, starting from just a few people to now over twenty thousand members. Like most other young preachers, my head and heart was filled with visions of building programs, acquiring new property, pews packed with new visitors every Sunday, a gorgeous office suite, and a top-notch ministry staff. We were trained in the latest church growth philosophy and methodology. The goal always seemed to be to grow your church as much as possible. Success was measured by your annual growth rate, which we were taught how to calculate.

My perspective of success has changed. My view of the role I have in ministry has been reforged in the crucible of experience. The world has become a much wider expanse, and I see far more opportunity and potential than I ever did sitting behind the desk of a study, standing behind a pulpit, or coming behind the latest circumstance that required the pastor’s presence. As I think about it, I was always behind something. And I realize, isn’t that how most pastors find themselves? Always in a reactionary position, responding to the latest crisis, disagreement, or administrative entanglement? Isn’t it time ministry leaders be released to truly lead, to know the incredible freedom that comes from bringing the gospel to bear in every situation?

Pastors, get out from behind whatever it is, forget about pursuing behind that dream of mega-pastor stardom, and lead the way into uncharted territory. Do it for the sake of your sanity, your family, and to preserve the integrity of the gospel.