Monday, May 7, 2007

One Pastor Too Close to the Edge?

Search Continues For Minister Missing Since April 20

The search continues for a missing minister from Kimberly. It's been more than a week since anyone saw Gary Vance. The traveling minister and building contractor was last seen Friday April 20th. Gary Vance suffers from diabetes, hypertension and kidney disease. He needs medication, and police say he won't make it much longer without it... Vance has visited churches across the southeast singing, sharing his faith and spreading the gospel. But the evangelist didn't serve on Sunday. He's been missing now for more than a week and his family is devastated….

While Vance’s wife awaits word of his whereabouts, detectives continue to track leads...The 59 year old drove to
Lincoln Friday morning April 20th for a business meeting and hasn’t been seen since…. Now friends and family are left wondering if Vance is a victim of foul play or if he left intentionally, although people who know him best can't see that.

Vance’s friend
Gary ____________ said, “It's hard to understand knowing Gary, how he could walk away."


Article published May 3, 2007 (Stephanie Taylor, staff writer, Tuscaloosa News)

Police say missing preacher went to
Las Vegas

Police have closed the case of the missing preacher whose SUV was found in
Tuscaloosa on Friday, believing he went to Las Vegas of his own accord. Kimberly Police investigators believe that Gary Vance, 59, is in no danger. They closed the case Wednesday.

“Everything points to him having left on his own," said Sgt. Bill Isbell, the Kimberly Police Department investigator assigned to the case…. Vance’s 2004 Chevrolet TrailBlazer was found a week later in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart on Skyland Boulevard, covered with a tarp. Store videotape showed Vance leaving the parking lot in a taxi. Isbell interviewed the cab driver, who recognized Vance from a photograph and said he had taken Vance to the Greyhound bus station downtown.

A woman at the Greyhound station said she was “75 to 80 percent sure" that Vance was the man to whom she sold a ticket to Las Vegas.…


It's Monday morning and somewhere in America there is at least one or two ministers who are wondering if they should hang in there or just call it quits.

Dean Hoge and Jacqueline Wenger's recently published finding from their study of pastors who leave the ministry revealed that in all five denominational groups, the top motivating factors for leaving were the same. Pastors reported:

“I felt drained by demands.”
“I felt lonely and isolated.”
“I did not feel supported by denominational officials.”
“I felt bored and constrained.”

(Dean Hoge and Jacqueline Wenger's book, Pastors in Transition, is part of the Lilly Endowment's Pulpit and Pew research project on the state of pastoral ministry)

Flip those concerns over and you may find you're on the road back from the edge.

1) Feeling drained by the demands? Learn to say "No." Work with your leadership team to set healthy boundaries. Prioritize. Delegate.

2) Feeling lonely and isolated? Reach out to two other pastors in your area (whether or not they're in your denominational camp) and buy them lunch. Explore the possibility of connecting at least once each month. Call an old classmate from your religion department days. And don't be reluctanct to seek out a Christian counselor.

3) Feeling lack of support from your denominational officials? Let them know. Express your willingness/desire for a greater level of engagement and find a way to connect (the trick is to do that without increasing the demands ... see #1)

4) Feeling bored and constrained? It the goal you're pursuing big enough? Do you have a God-sized dream that keeps you running? "I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing; forgetting what is behind.and looking forward to what lies ahead." Philippians 3:13

It's Monday. Read a book. Take a walk. Just don't hop a bus for Vegas!