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Missions 101

Aspirations for Demotion

Aug. 7, 2013By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

Jeff Cagwin is the Lead Pastor at Bridgepoint Church in Indiana, but not for long. He recently resigned his post to take on the Pastor of Discipleship role in the same church. I remember Jeff from seminary because the day I bought an engagement ring for my wife in 2002, he and his wife tried to share the gospel with me in the food court of a mall, as I celebrated my purchase over bad chinese food. I had to tell him I was enrolling at Trinity, but I let him share with me for a while before I told him. 

I have never met someone who has made this move and stayed in the same church. I know some who have made this move when leaving a church behind, but primarily because they could not find a lead pastor role. Listen to how he processes the decision. He writes:

I sat across the table at LePeep, over breakfast, with an old friend who was back in town to visit.  He posed this excellent question, half-joking, half-serious. 

Who, indeed?  Why, having arrived at “the top,” would you aspire downward? 

Why would I, a lead pastor, wish to return to my previous role as pastor of discipleship?  

Here are three reasons I sought to be, in my friend's words, "demoted":

  • It’s not a demotion.  The heart of this move has nothing to do with hierarchy.  The elder team and the incoming lead pastor (not to mention, I) have no interest in my being disempowered.  Rather, this is being done in a spirit of partnership.  Matthew and I will operate not in an authoritarian, but rather a gifts-based, manner.
  • It’s about being who you are.  I came to the conclusion (yea, the conviction) that I was being called away from the lead role and toward a role that leverages my primary strengths and passions.  I function best in a collaborative partnership, rather than as a solo leader.  I can’t wait to work with Matthew as I focus on what energizes me and what I do best in and for God's kingdom!
  • It’s time.  I shared in a sermon recently from a book that described a situation eerily similar to mine, about a pastor of discipleship who stepped in when the teaching pastor left.  They ask how you know when you’re being called out of this “phase” back to your “base” (primary gifting), and articulate what I've experienced:

“Generally, you will know ... (and you'll experience less) energy ... peace ... joy ...Your thoughts turn to doing what you really love and what comes naturally for you. Going back to your base ministry is the only thing that gives you a sense of peace.” (Mike Breen and Steve Cochran, Building a Discipling Culture, Kindle“location 1949”)

I’m glad my friend asked the question, so succinctly.  I’m looking forward to my promotion :-)

Is it time for a change in role/responsibilities in some area of your life? If so, step out in faith. Go for it!  

This is quite a move by Jeff. Would you be able to do the same?

Darren Carlson is the Founder and President of Training Leaders International.  As President, Darren oversees the general direction of the ministry and serves as an advocate for pastors with little access to formal training and thoughtful cross-cultural theological engagement. You can connect with him on Facebook and Twitter

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