Who Watches the Watchmen? Notes on Ministry Leadership

If we are to fulfill this mission and do what a human cannot do—be the Watchman God calls us to be—then we need to finally let others watch over us. 

Nearly 2000 years ago, the Roman poet, Juvenal, asked the question “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” Or, “Who watches the watchmen?”

Five years ago, after my husband and I birthed two babies and a church plant, I started asking the same question.

It didn’t happen overnight—the hopelessness that carved a hole in my insides in the fall of 2014. We celebrated our small but seemingly sturdy church plant launch in the summer of 2012. Our leadership team was made mostly of college students and a handful of young families, all new to ministry and life.

No one knew how this should go, but what we lacked in experience, we made up for in arrogance, energy, and mediocre ideas.

I worked in a nearby hospital, bringing in the primary income. Meanwhile, our boys tagged along with my husband while he tried to build an organization with young leaders with trust issues and no money.

The launch team were at first our friends, and at times, our roommates when someone needed a place to land. But one by one, our friends left town or left the church, often blaming us for a failure or theological disagreement on the way out.

Initially, we received enthusiastic support by our sending church and denomination as they saw us reaching college students and Millennials—the then-impossible demographic other churches struggled to reach. When several other church plants from our district closed soon after our launch (including our sending church), we knew we had to stick it out to prove ourselves.

But we didn’t know how to make it. Our attempts at outreach were met with disdain by our leaders, and the money was running out.

All this during the grim news cycle of 2014: ISIS, Ebola, and Ferguson. Unrest and uncertainty …

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