A Powerful First Experience
His eyes filled with tears as he spoke to us. Exhausted and overwhelmed by stress and the constant opposition of “the old guard” in his first church out of seminary, Jim was ready to quit the ministry. “I just can’t take it anymore,” he screamed, “I’ve had enough!” Our Macedonian group listened intently.
As Jim told his story, his voice cracked and he began to sob like a small boy. I gently asked if we could pray for him, and he agreed. We asked if we could surround him and lay hands on him. He nodded in agreement. Then, a woman in our group who had some oil in her purse asked if she could anoint him with oil. He smiled and said, “I need all the help I can get!” As every member of our group uttered a heartfelt prayer of hope for Jim, we could feel him start to relax. It was as if “the weight of the world” was lifted off of his shoulders! He realized that he was NOT alone! Amid tears, he told us that he had forgotten who he was. He mistakenly thought of himself as “the CEO of a small, struggling business,” instead of as a preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Jim’s struggle with “the old guard” didn’t miraculously disappear. Rather, the conflict intensified. But, he received the strength and the courage from the Macedonian pastors to persevere in his challenging ministry. “This was my true ordination to the ministry,” he later explained. Jim not only survived, but he began to thrive in ministry. The result was a pastor and congregation that “turned the corner,” reoriented their life together, and took strides to impact their local community with the gospel.
Jim was a participant in the original Macedonian Ministry program, a prototype of the current Macedonian Ministry model, which began in September of 2008 with a cohort of fourteen clergy from the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta. Encouraged and facilitated by a grant from the CF Foundation, they covenanted to meet together on a regular basis, and over the next three years, grew into a healthy, sustaining community of peers. The quality of their experience led to the establishment of Macedonian Ministry for the purpose of encouraging and helping to facilitate more of these cohorts.