what follows is the statement I will read today at the final time I address this congregation. It is both a personal statement and a recognition of the state of this thing called church. It is not about me specifically or the church I was serving but it is about the situation we find ourselves in…
I come here today sad. Sad not only for what has occurred over the latter part of the summer, but also sad for the lost opportunity we may have realized. While change is never comfortable it is a necessary part of life and something the church in the world is running out of space and time to avoid.
I am a change agent. I’m a change agent that sometimes may push too hard to make it happen, now; however I feel the church must change in how it goes about being and doing church in order to be an effective agent of the Gospel, and that this change is imperative, for your kids, for my kids, and for their kids as well.
I just read an article that suggests that a growing church is a dying church and that maybe the best thing for the church is to allow it to die. We must remember the road to Easter goes through Good Friday; the way to resurrection goes through the crucifixion. When Jesus told us to take up your cross and follow where did you think it would lead? Jesus makes it clear that in order to be reborn we must be like that grain of wheat, which must fall to the earth and die, in order to become the bread of life.
Even though I will not be on this journey with you all I know that God is at work, throughout the world bringing about God’s kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven. Even though that road is a tough one, we must travel it with determination.
It is no secret to anybody that has gotten to know who I am, that I am a perfect text book example of ADHD. This is not a recent change in my life either. I have lived my entire life with it and am currently raising a son with this issue too. We make every effort to live in a world that rarely understands our ADHD minds. My family and I work together with how to successfully be a family amidst this exceptional mindset. I have also been working with doctors and counselors to help lighten the impact this difference has on others while gaining a better understanding of how to capitalize on the benefits it brings.
I’m always open to and embrace new ways to improve myself and I look forward to the opportunity to focus on strengthening the knowledge of myself in the future. I have always learned throughout my education, that those who provide a high level care must also receive a high level care to remain effective. In this way it is not a journey alone but instead a journey together just as Christ calls us to.
I want to acknowledge that I have been actively involved with youth ministry for 15 years now. Some people like to ask; when are you going to want to become a “real pastor.” I typically respond, I can’t think of a better group of people for me to relate and pastor, than these energetic souls!
One thing I have learned over those years in youth ministry is that at any event or gathering that involves youth, opinions will vary across an entire gamut from one youth to another. This is further confused when parents are involved. Kids can convey nearly the exact same account to two different parents and receive very different responses. Throughout all of this I have made every effort to assure that we always strive to have fun, acknowledge God’s presence in that moment, and kept things positive. This is the case whether it be enjoying a cup of coffee or on a journey across the country to participate in mission work.
Over that time period it has been important for me to relate effectively with students. I can’t expect them to come to me but instead I must meet students where they are. Regardless whether that is social media today or the Ska Punk music of 15 years ago or yes even crowd surfing at a Switchfoot concert. I have been told by numerous people that this is the strength I bring to working with students. They know they can talk to me, without judgment, they can trust me, that I understand them, and they know I will be there to help them, even at dinner time when their dog fell through the ice on the pond.
This enthusiasm has been an ally to me in a growing spectrum of places. I have engaged it when working with folks older than myself too. The time I got to spend at Good Sam has been so special for me. I have brought my crazy ideas for change partnered with my enthusiasm for God and these folks got excited about it and what it could mean to the church in the future. I had always been told you can’t change these people’s mind, but I have seen these people embrace their discomfort for the sake of God’s work in the world.
It is very evident that now is the time for me to leave this setting. And I ask you to support me in that decision. As I go from here to explore what ministry the Holy Spirit will lead me next, I do go with sadness. But I also go with excitement. Excitement knowing that God is walking with me on this journey. Excitement for the openness that I will have to combine my outlandish desire with the eccentric needs of the world and to serve God at that intersection.
Thank you for the time we have had. Thank you for your continued prayers as I discover what’s next, as I will also pray for you. I leave you with words told to me by a seminary professor, most often just prior to an exam, she would say you will get through this… not somehow, but Triumphantly! And I send you with this knowledge firm in my own mind:
We are commanded to love and commissioned to go. It’s exactly that easy. And it’s exactly that hard. But the One who created you, called you, loves you, and sends you, also goes with you. Always. To the very end of the age. So Go, in peace, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, to love and serve our God. Amen.
end note: I give thanks to the many people I borrowed ideas from and did not give proper credit you know who you are and I can’t think you enough for your thoughts that stretch us all.