Life After Pastoring...

I was recently invited on a podcast with William Vanderbloemen. I wasn’t completely sure what the interview was going to be about, but it ended up taking some interesting turns…


...particularly on some of the emotional changes following stepping down from leading Vineyard Cincinnati Church after being part of it for thirty years. As you can probably imagine, there were things I would have done differently in the transition…and some things we did really well. Even many of my pastor friends who did their transition the best it could be done found that it affected them in ways they weren’t expecting. The main point is this: there is life after pastoring…but it takes some navigating. So here are some thoughts that weren’t totally unpacked in the podcast… 1. There are two things that pastors have a hard time talking about when it comes to transitioning out: (A.) Identity and (B.) finances. Although I preached for years that my identity was found in Jesus and not my job, turns out I was fooling myself. I felt lost after leaving. It wasn’t just my identity, it was my mission. The other thing that pastors don’t talk about is their financial future. Back in the day, many pastors opted out of Social Security (ditto…) and with church planting, whether independently or with smaller tribes/denominations, there often isn’t much wiggle room to save or even think about future retirement. Even pastors of large churches often cash out during different capital campaigns over the years. As a result, many hang on longer than they should because of uncertain financial futures. 2. Next, a confession. The people who came to Vineyard Cincinnati who were part of parachurch ministries drove me crazy as a pastor. And here’s why: I was so singular in purpose and focus that I was frustrated not being able to draft parachurch leaders into our mission. There were several I tried to woo as volunteer leaders—or even to come on staff—but to no avail. Now I get it… 3. I’m that guy now. Dang. Life is different on the other side. 4. Finding community is harder than I thought. Whether it’s too difficult to remain in the church…or you’re giving the new leader space by not being present…or you’re remaining but not really involved, community is challenging to reengage. Believe it or not, many pastors are introverts and after years of stretching their own DNA for the sake of the Kingdom, new pathways to community aren’t easy. 5. Last, I’ll say it again: there is life after pastoring. As someone who totally bought the mantra that “the local church is the hope of the world”, I now love working with churches of every stripe and size. And I thoroughly love working with our team to design tools for leaders that creatively use game theory and are self-facilitating. Seeing a church become a brighter lighthouse in their community thrills my soul, and I deeply empathize with the unique joys and pains of pastoring; been there, done it, and got the t-shirt. Or vestment. Want to hear more and see a scary picture from the Zoom interview?—click here. Loads of grace, Dave Workman | Elemental Churches