Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Processing the Transition of a Pastor

While I was at work on Sunday my wife emailed me and said she heard there was a big announcement coming up during the church service.  I wondered as I worked what the announcement might be.  A big donation?  Moving to a new facility?  More staff being added as the church continues to grow.  I had a few ideas what it might be, but none of them included what it actually was.  Later in the morning I got another email from my wife.  One of our church's co-pastors was leaving the church to take a position with the church he served before starting CANVAS Church.  Wow.  Didn't see it coming.  At least not that morning.

Rewind.  Two years ago a friend of mine from Atlanta posted a message on Twitter about a friend of his who was starting a brand new church in Minnesota.  Being a church news junkie I responded to the tweet and asked where the church was going to be planted.  Knowing my friend in A-town I figured that his friend would likely be a pretty neat guy.  To say I was shocked when I heard back that the church was going to be in Northfield would be an understatement.  Stephanie and I had been waiting, hoping, praying for a church to come to Northfield that would be more along the stylistic lines we were used to in the cities.  I wanted to know more so I immediately started to do what any freak, online stalking would do.  I checked out the new pastor's name on Facebook and Twitter to learn any and everything I could about him.

It took a while to track him down in town so that we could meet face to face.  After a few weeks I finally cornered him as he was hunkered down using the library as a temp office.  I liked the guy right away and went home to tell Stephanie that we needed to check out this church a bit more seriously.  We were invited to a pre-planting meeting and although we loved what we heard and saw, I didn't feel the timing was right to leave the church in Northfield that we were presently attending.  The reasons why are another post completely.  I am sad that we missed all the buzz and the excitement leading up to the CANVAS launch, but I know we handled our church transition with grace and respect.

Current time.  It has been about a year since we fully came on board at CANVAS and it has been an awesome year.  I love the pastors and their families very much.  I respect them and I am excited about serving in whatever why I can to hep our church grow and accomplish all God desires for us to do.  There are a ton of great families in the church and we have watched as God is bringing new people all the time.  Both Stephanie and I know that CANVAS is right where we are supposed to be.  Which makes it all the tougher to think about one of our pastors... one of my friends...leaving town.

I want to go on record as saying that I consider myself extremely blessed to know and have served alongside Jon Hohm and his family.  The church he is going to, and the ministry he'll be leading there, are extremely fortunate to have he and his family coming there.  Jon is one of the most authentic, warm, encouraging, visionary leaders I know.  And his wife is so top shelf that even Jon doesn't deserve her.  Stephanie and I have always felt so encouraged and supported by them both.  They love Jesus, they love each other, and they love people in a humble, genuine way that you just don't come across often enough.  I'll miss hanging with Jon dreaming about Northfield.  I'll miss watching how excited he gets over a new creative idea and hearing how passionate he is about doing things with excellence so that space is created for people to be transformed by Jesus.  And I'll miss Kelli's smile and the kind, genuine way she looks at you and asks how you are.

I am so confident that Jon and Kelli have prayed through this call, and that they have sought wise counsel, and that they have had to process the very really feelings of loss as they follow God's leading to once again pack up their family and move to a new place.  I am grateful to God for them that he is calling them back to a place of comfort and familiarity, so that it is not another 100% restart.  I am excited to hear about how God uses them and I hope that we'll see each other again down the road and share stories about what God is doing through both our churches, a half a nation apart.

If you know them, pray for them.  Heck pray for them even if you don't.  And pray for us, and the people of CANVAS.  God will still do awesome things through CANVAS.  Our other co-pastor Jeff is a strong man of God who loves Jesus and loves people (and loves his wife too!) and I have no doubt in his ability to lead our church.  Ultimately CANVAS, just like every other church, belongs to Jesus.  He is the true Senior Pastor of the church, his Bride, and he will lead us where he desires us to go.  We, CANVAS, just like the Hohm's, simply must be faithful to listen to the voice of our Shepherd and follow where he leads us.
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