Debriefing from the Epic Fail Pastors Roundtable in Chicago

On Friday night and Saturday we held another Epic Fail Roundtable event, this time at Northern Seminary in the Chicago area.

It was a rich time but, as to be expected, when you host a space for wounded and discouraged pastors to talk openly about failure you get a lot of weighty stories emerging to the surface. This event was probably our most diverse group – from staff members of large megachurches to journalists/reporters curious about the event to intrigued pastors who wanted to know more about this unique space to even some repeat attendees from other Epic Fail events.

And, of course, some pastors who have gone through some failures of epic proportions, including a young pastor with an international preaching ministry who was so broken by his failure about a month ago that he could hardly look anyone in the eyes during the two days. I’m proud of the pastors and leaders who share their stories with courage and authenticity. These spaces truly are sacred because of it. Pastors: thank you. You know who you are.  

It was excited as we added two new team members to the Epic Fail events team who helped lead throughout the time: Mandy Smith, an Australia-American who pastors in Cincinnati, OH and Adam Gustine, who serves as a catalyst for missional expressions in Mishawaka, IN.

This topic and these events are incredibly heavy. My wife will tell you I am not myself for about 48 hours after each event, as I carry the stories home with me. It takes two days for the fog to lift again. I’m convinced more than ever that this stuff is needed, its necessary and its assisting in the healing of pastors who need grace and space to hear from Jesus, but it comes at a personal cost. It’s worth it, but man, it’s heavy.

What sustains is knowing God is in control and there are stories of healing that emerge on the other side of these events.

If you’re interested in hosting an Epic Fail event in your context (either one day, two days or three days in length) let us know. We’d love to share a bit more of what a partnership might look like.

2 Replies to “Debriefing from the Epic Fail Pastors Roundtable in Chicago”

  1. JR,

    I am beginning a new ministry phase working to offer hope, encouragement, and friendship to those in ministry so they may finish well. I am curious about creating an Epic Fall-like event in the Nashville area. I look forward to learning more.

    Grace and peace,
    Keith Branson

  2. Would you ever consider doing an Epic Fail Conference for Missionaries? We get put on even higher pedestals and have farther to fall, and shame….Does anyone have stats on how many missionaries have “disappeared” from ministry, how many leave ministry and how many start and don’t retire from the mission field? It would be nice to meet with others who have “failed”.

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