404 A Pastor Without a Place

A Pastor Without a Place

Have you ever tried to introduce someone really, really great to your friends? It seems like words can’t really do you justice. You try to give a quick bio or tell them something funny or frame the introduction impressively. Anything so they are ready to receive this new blessing of acquaintance with the proper reverence. That’s how I feel right now…and words fail me. Most of you know him but that doesn’t matter. Matt is one of my favorite writers. He is funny and he loves Jesus (openly). You don’t get that often. Today he’s sharing a really powerful story that resonates with the core of what I stand for. You might not get laughs with this one, but you’ll see why he’s one of the greats. Talk to ’em brother!

Pastor Without A Place

Normally this post would contain humor. It would probably have a list of some sort about this or that before turning serious and highlighting a spiritual concept. That’s usually how I roll (or whatever the kids are saying these days). This isn’t one of my normal posts because the topic is something that recently impacted me and my family in a huge way.

Eight weeks ago I became a pastor without a place.

I didn’t expect to be in this position just a little over 3 and a half years after becoming the pastor of the church that I grew up in. The last 3 pastors before me had an average of about 10 years of ministry there. Why would it be any different for me?

Answer: God’s plans for us are not dependent on what His plans are for others. Just because God allowed others to have long pastorates there does not mean that He desired the same thing for me.

So after loving, leading, and praying for the members there with passion and persistence, I stepped down with the knowledge that doing so would cause me and my family sorrow and uncertainty. There is sorrow because of relationships that are altered and uncertainty because we do not know where we will end up or where we will be from week to week.

While I expected these two feelings to be present, there is another stronger feeling that I did not foresee–the feeling of a lost identity.

Preparing sermons used to take up a sizeable portion of my time. So did contacting visitors and checking on sick church members. So did encouraging those involved in performing the ministries of the church. So did telling people about the church and inviting them to worship with us. So did a lot of other things.

You get the picture. I gladly spent a lot of my life fulfilling the pastoral duties that God had called me to do. And then with one decision…

it was gone.

The actions that I had devoted so much of my time and energy doing were no longer a part of my life. There was a void there that disturbed me, that was difficult to overcome. It wasn’t until I realized something vitally important that I was able to move on.

I may be a pastor without a place, but I am not a pastor without a Savior.

Before I became a pastor of that particular church I was simply a man with a calling. That is what I still am. I do not need to be a pastor of a church to be a pastor to those I come into contact with at work, at home, on the internet, and in my community.

Before the church, before committee meetings, before programs and hospital visits and follow-up phone calls and all the other stuff of church life—-there was Jesus.

I believe that I will once again be a pastor of a church. Until then I will continue to use what I have been given to reach out with the Gospel, grace, and good works to honor the One who was, and is, and is to come.

May those of us who follow Jesus always remember that where we serve is not as important as who we serve.


Matt CannonMatt Cannon is a pastor but not one of those types of pastors. He doesn’t have all of the answers or nice hair. Being stodgy or stuffy is impossible for him. He doesn’t just talk about grace and love, he tries to live it out in his life. He blogs at The Seeking Pastor. He likes chicken and dumplings. And Rocky Road ice cream. And incomplete sentences.


  1. God must have thought you needed that lesson and knew you would share it with others, as we also need that lesson. I’m sure being the Pastor of a church is an incredible honor and so fulfilling. I do think sometimes our titles, or roles, become so comfortable we forget God wants to stretch us beyond our boundaries. Testimony trumps title…I think you have an awesome testimony!

    Thank you for sharing!
    Heather Murdock recently posted..A Heart for the Underdog

  2. Thanks for reminding us that we are not defined by what we do; our identity is wrapped up in who God says we are. Good stuff!
    TJ recently posted..All About Me

  3. Matt, this is heartfelt and honest and much appreciated. We can certainly get our identity tangled up in the things we do. It’s hard not to, but we need these reminders. As you said, before all the stuff, there was Jesus. At the end, there is Jesus. Through it all, there is Jesus–the one who was and is and is to come. So good. Thank you.
    Jason Stasyszen recently posted..The Wii and Its Lies

  4. I know how you feel, brother. I have been there once, and will probably be there again (hopefully not soon). Thankfully, even though we tend to find comfort in the identity we receive from what we do, God knows us as who we are – His children. If we could only fully grasp that truth.
    Anthony Baker recently posted..Barriers to Church Growth. #5 (Honoring Self)

  5. You are really a special person. You realized you were missing out on quality time with your family.

  6. This is tremendous! Before anything, there is Jesus.
    randomlychad recently posted..Wednesday #Haterade: Calcific Bursitis

  7. You’re not a pastor without a place… in my heart.

    Besides, I’m a pastor without a place right now, too!

  8. I dealt with that same identity crisis when I stepped aside from my former church. I had been a college pastor for 8 years, a leader in that church for 8 years and a member for 10. People in town knew me as being the college guy from that church. It was tough, but it forced me to see my identity is not in what I do.

    Praying that God continues to guide you in this time and brings you into something amazing!
    Jason Vana recently posted..Consider it Pure Joy

  9. Thirty-six years as a pastor’s wife has left so many laughs and tears. Churches that were easy to serve in and churches that you wondered when the nightmare would end. But through it all we were “called to serve Christ”, not anything else. Decisions are made that are sometimes hard because of your wife and children. I am blessed to be the wife of a wonderful man who serves a “risen Saviour” and the mother-in-law to a wonderful man who seeks the same path to take my daughter and grandchildren down. Where ever He sends you and your family please know that I will always be proud of you and WHO you stand for. I love you. Nonnie.

  10. Good stuff. It’s so easy for us to get tied up in what we are doing. To define our identities incorrectly. I know I’ve been there before. You feel the void and wonder what your real purpose in life is anyway. But finding an identity in the God who never leaves and never changes is a wonderful gift.
    Loren Pinilis recently posted..My Capture Device Recommendations

  11. I think all of us have times where we can be confused about our identity. At the conclusion of this school year, after 14 years, I will be finished as a home school mother. What will I do? and even more importantly, Who am I, without the task of schooling our children? I’ve come to the conclusion that I am who God says that I am. I just have to remind myself of what He has said.
    kd sullivan recently posted..These Are a Few of My Favorite Posts!

  12. WOW, just reading your blog was inspiring to me, you are a shepard where ever you roam, shepards use to walk the fields not be couped up in a building. so shepard your flock where ever you may roam.
    i use to be a youth pastor and walk away, now that i am back in church i often feel out of place. like i am not doing the will of the father. im so glad you shared this cause as i share about your story, i see where my calling is. the people that dont go to church, the store, the beach, and the were ever.
    as they say at the Harbour, we are the church….
    share His love where you go man, be blessed.

  13. This is great!

    We so often feel like the only people who are “in the ministry” are those who are on the payroll at a church. So not true. Every Christian has a potential ministry, and we cannot exempt ourselves from that simply because we may not have an official title. As long as we have interaction with other human beings we have the ability to minister, and to be the Body.

    Thanks for sharing your heart! I look forward to hearing what God has in store for you in the near future. 🙂
    Nikki Weatherford recently posted..A Brave Heart

  14. Amen! Your “Who” determines your “Do” not the other way around…

    Such a difficult place that you are in… my heart goes out to you… will be praying!
    Jenny recently posted..GitzenTats | YOU: Create | Choose Joy

  15. I came empathize truly with you here. Pastoring is calling that changes everything in life for the better although there are times it does not feel that way. I left a church a little more than two years ago after nearly 8 years to come to the church were I currently serve. It is weird and strange when you leave someplace but your perspective will save you much heartache – not all heartache. Anyway you slice it – Jesus is on the thrown and leading you and that is what it is all about. Use the time you have now as Bill mentioned to be refreshed and renewed. It will make a positive impact in many areas of life. I will lift you up in prayer even now. In my life – the change was harder on my family than it was me so I am lifting your family up too.
    Jim F recently posted..A Leader Like Moses Or Aaron?

  16. I have always said that “Pastor” is a calling. But that calling is not based on location or place of worship. I would be happy to see someone who pastors people wherever the sheep may be. Jesus never said that the pastor takes care of the sheep in the “stable” or in the farm. I always saw it as a way of leading the sheep wherever they find themselves. So even if you are a pastor without a place, you are still a pastor. Heck, in some ways you are a pastor to me. So there (please don’t swing your staff at me). 🙂
    Moe recently posted..The Usual Suspects: Eutychus

  17. I’m so thankful you shared such a huge story of your life here. Thank you for leading with love, grace and humor. You are such a blessing, man. You are appreciated more than you know!

  18. “May those of us who follow Jesus always remember that where we serve is not as important as who we serve.”

    Well done Matt!

    From the CEO …to the Janitor…we serve HIM!…no one else.
    Arny recently posted..Lessons From a Jedi # 3: Obi-Wan’s Point of View

  19. Matt, I think you truly captured the heart of all true servants. It’s now about where…it’s about Who.

    I believe He’ll open another door. And know I pray daily for you and your family.
    Michael Perkins recently posted..The Key To Miracles

  20. Enjoyed the post Matt. Sometimes, we don’t know where the path that He has called us to travel is leading. I know God has great things in store for you.
    Sele Mitchell recently posted..Everything I Do, I Do It For You

  21. Great post Matt! Back in 2000, after 13 years at a church, I found myself out of a church, and out of my identity. For over 30 years “pastor” had been my identity and now “nothing.” The break was nice but the realization of who I am was even better. I didn’t have influence to speak of. I didn’t have renown. I didn’t know about blogs. but I did have a Savior who sheltered my heart and gave it back to me in one piece. Praying for you in this transition. and YOU WILL BE BACK!
    bill (cycleguy) recently posted..Church2.0

  22. I love your perspective, dude. You’re inspiring to so many.
    Jason recently posted..Day 263: Things you ponder while packing

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