I’m not sure, but I think I heard it from Richard Foster in Celebration of Discipline. It’s a perfect word to describe a need for Christians of all occupations, but especially those who pastor smaller churches. The word I’m referring to is, de-accumulate. If I remember correctly, Foster used it in relation to living a more simple life. His premise is that we are manipulated by the media into believing that we need more things. As we give in to this lie we begin to accumulate. The more we accumulate the more what we accumulate controls us. Therefore, we have a need to de-accumulate in order to experience more freedom and simplicity.
If we are going to be the deeply spiritual people we want to be, and the type of pastors our people so desperately need us to be, we will have to de-accumulate unnecessary ministry responsibilities that take our time away from the nurture of our souls, the care of our families, and the preserving of our sanity. In order to de-accumulate we will need to delegate, settle, or abandon.
Delegate. If there is someone in the church that can do things we are doing at least 70% as well as we do them, hand it off to them. We should examine all the ministry duties we have accumulated on our calendars and see what we can share with others.
Settle. I once heard a conference speaker say, “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly.” If in order to de-accumulate you need to settle for something of a lesser quality than you would like, then settle. Receiving a “B” on a test isn’t as good as an “A,” but a “B” is still pretty good. The rule of thumb is: do a few things well. If you can’t do great, then settle for well.
Abandon. Towards the end of my last pastorate I announced to my church that we were going to abandon any ministry or program in the church that could not be carried out by people who had a genuine passion for it. I was no longer going to stand before the church and say, “We’re going to do this…” and then recruit people to do “this” and then motivate people to keep doing “this”. Our church would only provide ministries led by and staffed by people with passion. People with passion seldom need motivation. I was prepared to nix such sacred cows as nursery, Sunday school, refreshments, multi-media, even the worship team if people did not step up to the plate. Know what? No ministry of any significance had to be closed down…even though I was willing to. In order to de-accumulate you may need to be willing to abandon certain responsibilities/ministries that fall on your shoulders.
If you want to live a happier, healthier, more spiritual life, you will need to de-accumulate. It will be scary at first, but you’ll get used to it. Your spouse will thank you for it, your kids will thank you for it, and your church will thank you for it…eventually…after they’re done thinking you’re a lazy, irresponsible nut-case. Blame me.
This guest post was written by Dave Jacobs. Dave operates http://www.smallchurchpastor.com/ where he coaches, consults and resources pastors of small churches.