The Big Transition
Last Sunday I announced to our beloved community, Church of the Open Door, that I’ve asked the elders for permission to step aside as the 9th Senior Pastor of our historic church. I also asked them to consider allowing me to stay on in a redefined role as Assistant Pastor of Discipleship, Small Groups, and Community Development. Church of the Open Door will always be our community and I’m persuaded that God wants me to finish my years of ministry here, with these people we’ve shepherded and loved for twenty years.
They graciously agreed.
I couldn’t be more excited about the next lap of ministry for Judy and me. But, before we get into that, here’s the podcast of the sermon:
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Three Reasons Why I’m Stepping Aside
The first is obviously my health. If you think about it, every pastor is an interim pastor! I’ve been living with this disease for 16 years and it seems only prudent that we should have a succession plan.
A number of years ago I began discussion with the elders and staff about a succession plan. 2013 and 2014 were especially difficult for me health-wise. Many weeks I felt as if I was only half present with the daily duties of Senior Pastor and it was all I could do to get in my study time and attend to the pressing problems and necessary meetings.
Over the last few months the doctors have changed me over to a medication that has turned me around, but it has some daunting side effects. Right now I feel great. I feel great. That’s great news and I’m thankful.
The Need for Youth
Then there’s my growing conviction that our church needs younger leadership. Church history shows that the energy of the gospel comes from youth. Jesus Himself was only 36 or 37 when He was crucified. The disciples were in their late teens or at most their early twenties when they walked with Him. Martin Luther was 34 when he posted his 95 Theses. John Wesley was 35 when he had what has been described as his evangelical conversion, left the Moravians, and started his own ministry. Billy Graham was 31 when he launched his career as an evangelist. Younger leaders live on the cusp of what God is doing in the world, more in touch with the younger families, more qualified to dream and provide vision and leadership into the next 100 years.
Finally, I’m tired. I’ve embraced the realities of being Senior Pastor and given it everything I have for twenty years. But that has meant that I’ve been at the center of every tension, every question, every unhappiness, every decision, and every need for change and implementation of those changes. I want to spend more of my time sitting around living rooms and tables talking with young people about Jesus and less time sitting around tables talking with leaders about strategies, important pressing problems, and significant choices that face us.
Psalm 138 and What Comes Next
Judy and I decided to wrap our big announcement around Psalm 138. Psalm 138:8 is our life verse. You can read about that here.
My bride and I are as excited about the future as we’ve ever been. We absolutely believe that the best years of Church of the Open Door are ahead of us.
We’re also launching a small ministry to try to help other churches and faith communities stay focused on Jesus’ two foremost priorities–Making Disciples and Loving One Another.
But, there’s plenty of time to talk about that later.
For now, please pray for us and Church of the Open Door as we determine God’s will.