I’ve loved the discussion over the past several days as I’ve laid out some of our vision as we move to Ireland…at least some of the parts that have become clear to us so far. Thanks for participating!

You might remember a couple weeks ago I mentioned two key words for us as we began looking towards planting in Dublin were reproducible & sustainable. Part of talking about the neighborhood based model, over the past couple of days was to lay out some idea of how we see this new faith community being reproducing. But it is also key to how we see this new church being sustainable. And just for clarity sake, by sustainable, I simply mean that the people leading are able to do it long term, in a way that is healthy in every respect, and where at the end of their run they find themselves not only having led well, but closer to God and closer to their families.

(There are far too many pastors who have been hurt by the church and walked away…had an affair, and basically blown everything in their lives up…or done something that indicated how they were carrying out their role was, despite how good things might have looked, not sustainable. And the statistics seem to get worse every year.)

Now, there are other parts of this vision for Dublin that aren’t yet clear. Perhaps sustainable will involve full-time ministry role…but if not, if it ends up being a bi-vocational type of deal, then, that can’t mean 60-80 hours of work year after year…clearly that falls under “not sustainable.”  So if the lead person is bi-vocational, then that’d mean that there would need to be a solid team of leaders in place…most likely also bi-vocational, who are able to lead at a very high level and carry out many of the responsibilities that normally fall on the lead pastor.

Now, before Dublin even came on the radar, those of us in leadership at the Ithaca Vineyard had already begun addressing this issue, because it was becoming more and more clear that the model we had in place was not sustainable….basically I was at a point where I recognized unless we make some major changes in how things are structured, I couldn’t see myself at the Ithaca Vineyard long term…in fact, I had talked to Liz and some friends about whether or not it was time to give up church ministry and start looking for something else to do.

As I’ve written about previously, Elizabeth and I went to a Vineyard Pastors’ Sabbath Retreat 2 years ago, and I know those 2 weeks played a major role in why we are looking forward to our next ministry adventure in Dublin rather than running away from the church thinking “we are never, ever doing that again.” In addition, I owe a great deal of gratitude to the leaders at the Ithaca Vineyard who backed me 100% and worked with me, and are still working to see that the role of lead pastor at the Ithaca Vineyard can be a healthy one.

At this point, I’m still trying to unlearn some old patterns.  “Stop working on this important project, and simply sit in silence, in God’s presence for a while? That doesn’t seem very productive.” Or when our counselor encouraged me to put more time and effort into Liz & the kids during this transition, and trust that God will provide the support. When I first heard that, it was like the old science fiction shows where some illogical formula is plugged in the the robot, and the things starts smoking and breaks down because it doesn’t compute.  But it was advice we followed, and l’m so grateful we did. But I’m still learning.

So, this post did not at all go the way I was planning it going…hope it was helpful…and made sense…kind of what’s bouncing around my head right now…talk a bit more about our vision over the next few days. Please leave anything you’re wondering in the comment section.