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Letting go

September 27, 2009

For those who have not heard I have decided to step away from my role as lead pastor of Vineyard Central. I am not stepping away from the congregation as a whole. I am not leaving the neighborhood. I am not giving up on Christ. There has been no infidelity or misappropriation of funds. It is needed for me, my family and I believe it will prove very beneficial for VC as well.

The person who took it the hardest so far was my daughter Zoe. It drew out some a deep emotional response and an immediate question. “Are you still going to be a Christian?” So, in that teachable moment we talked about the difference between being in a specific role (in this case, pastor) and being a Christian. It was a short, clarifying conversation over breakfast. But it haunted me for weeks.

The answer I gave her wasn’t adequate to help me unravel the existential and practical knot that had developed over time for me personally between vocational ministry and simply being a follower of Jesus. That know was tighter than I ever imagined.

And why wouldn’t it be? I’ve been in some form of visible leadership going all the way back to my student youth group days almost 25 years ago. (I turned 40 this year). Definitely by the time I was in college I was starting and leading ministries and groups and projects. Pardon the crude analogy but I’ve been a bit of a leadership whore most of my adult life.

So now I’m in a place of trying to figure out what it means to follow Jesus and not have anyone following me.

Zoe to the rescue. She bought me a book (with her own money and even wrote a note in the front cover), Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home by Richard Foster. She bought me the 25th anniversary edition. Turns out that was one of the books I read almost 25 year’s ago before I was leading anything and everything possible. It stirred me deeply then. it is stirring me again. I feel like I’m back at the beginning of my walk with Christ again. Foster starts the book with Simple Prayer. Prayer where you just bring who you are, the good and the bad, into Christ’s presence and pray whatever anger or frustration or joy is there at the moment.

“Hi, my name is Kevin. I’m a Jesus wannabe and I’m learning to pray. Again.”

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. September 27, 2009 2:56 pm

    Transition is always very interesting. You know I’ll be praying for you my brother – my good friend. You know what would be good – me and you on a two-man land-in-the-gorge expedition/sweat lodge kinda thing. 🙂

  2. September 27, 2009 4:41 pm

    Kevin:

    Although we have never met (yet!), I have been following your journey from my perch in California for some time. As you know, a year ago we closed down our traditional destination campus Vineyard church to reform as a network of house churches with a mission to “empower everyday people to bring the ministry of Jesus to everyday places”. This past year has been quite a series of transitions and changes including a huge role change for me. I was no longer the senior (or lead) pastor of a congregation on a full time salary and “full-time” in the ministry. I now take a very small housing allowance as “Director” of the Network” and work part-time as a professional counselor in a Christian marriage and family therapy group (I am a pastoral counselor with a masters degree in the field). I also published a book in May called “How Healed Do You Want to Be?” and I’m seeing what doors it opens for ministry and income.

    These changes for me, my family, my church family and other outside observers (including fellow Vineyard leaders) have been dramatic, but not necessarily traumatic. Fact is, I really like my new roles and feel that, on the church front, it is a much better, healthier (and more biblical?) job description that being “the guy at the top”. I know you have a team leadership approach and I too have always been a collaborative leader. Nevertheless, when you let everyone (including yourself) know that the church is not about living out “your vision” or that you are responsible to design ministry programs, counsel, preach weekly (usually) and so on, it opens up new opportunities to lead, serve, influence and otherwise “pastor” folks out of your gifting that were not previoiusly possible.

    I know none of this is new to someone like you. Indeed, I have tried to learn from your history and do not presume to be able to teach you much from mine in this regard. Still, I just thought you’d like to know that I admire people who embrace change that they perceive will allow them to live, lead and serve in ways that are as healthy and life-giving as possible even if it means making some waves.

    God bless you (and your remarkable daughter!), Kevin — and God bless the Vineyard Central. Who knows, I met yet darken your door!

    Bill Faris
    “Vineyard at Home” (Formerly Vineyard Community Mission Network)

  3. Karen permalink
    September 28, 2009 2:55 am

    I´m kinda jealous! 🙂 Well, maybe more than just ¨kinda¨! 😉

    Keep us posted on the journey!

  4. September 28, 2009 1:56 pm

    my friend, i love how courageous and giving you are…i love how you follow after Jesus!!

    my prayer is that God pulls on the strings attached to the existential and practical knot and *whirl*…brings comfort and clarity.

    rest in Him, my friend…hopefully we’ll connect sonner rather than later

    peace

  5. September 29, 2009 4:11 pm

    Hi Kevin,

    I’ve been away from home and off the grid for a couple weeks and am just getting caught up with Google reader.

    I’m very happy to hear about the HUGE change God is leading you through. I echo much of what Bill had to say above (and if you read this Bill, thanks for your comments — I think we are doing similar things up here in Oregon, but starting from a church-plant).

    Good on ‘ya Kevin! I think people will always be following you as you follow Jesus, and the example you are walking out before them (especially your kids!) is awesome.

    love you bro,

    ~ Keith

  6. September 29, 2009 5:28 pm

    Kevin;

    When we just accept what has gone before as normal and necessary God has a way of shaking us up. Our walk with Him is a journey, a relationship, and an adventure all rolled into one. He uses the simple loving questions and counsel of a child (bless you Zoe) to crack us loose, I have to thank my wife (bless you Cheryl) for gently shooting me down on several occasions, it is needed, because as guys, we get focused on our presumed destination and sometimes miss the “bridge out” signs which the Lord places in our path. If you spend more time with Him and less with books (I have my favorites too!), I believe you will find the path clear and ready for traversing. Sometimes we are supposed to just sit and listen before we are actually ready to get up and help someone else.

    I think you are right to do this
    Bless you and yours

    Nathan

  7. November 1, 2009 12:53 pm

    Wow. I just want to leave one of my favorite quotes..
    The reality of naked trust is the life of a pilgrim who leaves what is nailed down, obvious and secure, and walks into the unknown without any rational explanation to justify the decision or guarantee the future. Why? Because God has signaled the movement and offered it His presence and His promise. — “Ruthless Trust” Brennan Manning

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