Chris has been called on to a new ministry as a District Superintendent in the Methodist Church. As much as I think about how hard it is for us all to say good bye to him as our senior pastor, our future is relatively certain. Another great pastor will be filling his shoes. It occurs to me that, for him, Chris's future is less certain ... he is moving into an entirely different role ... different responsibilities ... a future very unlike his past. That has got to be exciting, yes, but also quite scary.
Dan Gildner, our Teaching Pastor and, like Chris, another great and godly man as well as a good friend, has recently blogged about some of the top lessons that Chris taught us during his 10 years with us. Dan has captured some great things and blogs about them very well. Click on his name to read them.
As I look back on our church's years with Chris, I sense and see something pretty phenomenal -- the start and progress of a true spiritual movement. We knew pretty early on with Chris that he did not stand for the status quo ... he was about transformation. And, when he came to us, we were frankly a sleepy church, perhaps you'd even have called us chronically depressed, on the decline. Chris had his work cut out for us.
But he taught us, with examples and stories and scripture, how much God loves us ... how much He wants to redeem us ... how much He wants to be with us. And out of that we then began to learn what our response needed to be ... our response needed to be out of changed hearts and minds ... out of gratitude ... out of His love flowing through us, creating an incredible circle back to God, back to our selves, and out to the world.
And, as we learned to love God, love ourselves, and love each other, we realized that there was only one thing we could do ... go and carry that love out to the world as Jesus commanded us.
I have been involved largely on the administrative side of things at church but how I admire those who have been gifted and skilled to be on frontline ministry. But something that Chris taught me was that even the most introverted of us can still live our lives differently by truly seeking and following God's direction and spreading His love no matter where we are.
When you take a whole congregation so inspired, you have a spiritual movement ... and Chris (along with his wonderful family) was the vessel that made that possible. While Chris moves on and we will miss him terribly, though, a true movement is not easily stopped. The momentum is there ... transformation of individuals, a church, a community and even the wider world is occurring ... and occurring not only through those in our church but through others who have been impacted and inspired along the way.
We love and will miss Chris and his family but we are all under the same banner ... building the Kingdom ... carrying God's love. Under that banner there may be difficulties but there is camaraderie. We will always be working together ... part of a movement ... an ongoing spiritual movement.
Thank you God.