This morning at Calvary, I announced that I was stepping down as a pastor at Calvary Church. I know that for some this is a sad and confusing time, but in some ways this is a good ending to a mostly great chapter of our life. We are anticipating a new future, and are anxious to see what God has for us. You can read my letter to the congregation here. Below are some answers to other questions you might have.
Why are you leaving?
- Endings are a necessary and healthy part of life’s cycles. I’ve been on staff at Calvary for over 15 years; in that amount of time, one can find many reasons to “leave”. The truth is that there is not any one reason, but many things have contributed to this decision. Most importantly, I believe this is the best thing for Calvary Church, the best thing for my family and I, and the way I can most bring glory to God at this point in my life.
- I recognize this is a difficult time for me to make this decision. It seems as if it is a knee-jerk reaction to some troubled waters. The truth is that I’ve wrestled with this for several years. I’ve spent a massive amount of time praying, counseling, and searching God’s Word for the wisdom I needed to know His plan for my future. Only recently has it become clear to me that this chapter of my life is closing. I wish the timing were different, but I firmly believe we only hurt ourselves when we drag our feet to do the things we know to be right.
Are you angry? hurt? discouraged? burned out?
- I would be lying if I said I never felt any of those emotions. Certainly, the past few months have been difficult. More than any of these, however, I’ve felt disappointment. I’ve been disappointed that the importance of Jesus’ church has been co-opted by the agendas of some people. I’ve been disappointed that many people from whom I expected more have chosen to break fellowship with myself and many others. I’ve been disappointed in my own weaknesses and failures to properly shepherd Christ’s church. But I am not alone in these feelings, and I am not the only person who has ever been angry, hurt, discouraged or burned out. And none of these are the reasons I am leaving.
Are you going to move away?
- I don’t know. Over the past four years I've had dozens of opportunities to move on to other churches. Some of these opportunities have been quickly turned down while others have moved through a process of interviews and visits from search committees. Very recently, we've investigated some really attractive opportunities. However, in some ways our family is in a healthier place today than we’ve been in years. We cherish that, and would be slow to give it up. We wrestle with this daily as we want to be sensitive to rightly discern God’s plan for our lives, yet we have many reasons to remain in West Michigan with our Calvary family.
Are you going to start a new church?
- No. I am determined to not do anything that would harm or reflect poorly on the community of Calvary Church.
What is next for you?
- I don’t know. Right now I am looking for a job (or jobs) that will enable me to support my family. God has blessed me with a wife who has a job that will provide health insurance benefits for us if needed. Please pray that God will quickly provide sufficient work for me.
IF YOU WANT, YOU CAN WALK WITH US THROUGH THIS NEXT CHAPTER...
- One of my desires in the next section of my life is to find opportunities to pursue the things for which I am really passionate and believe I am most gifted. I would love to be able to spend many of my weekends speaking to groups and retreats as well as providing pulpit supply in churches that are transitioning. I know that some of you who read this may have connections or ideas that might help me began finding these opportunities. If you have suggestions or contacts for me, I greatly appreciate your input.
- Please pray that Marianne and I would be wise in our decisions about the future. Pray that we would effectively discern God's will for our family. Pray that our children would be protected from discouragement and disenchantment. Pray that they would see and understand who God truly is and not be distracted by our sometimes poor representation of Him.