As you may know, late last year I experienced a breakdown related to unmet expectations and the pressures those brought. The result of that period was a new and deeper love for God and a dependence on Him above all else. I bring up that time period to say that where I am today is not related to disappointment, frustration or desperation. Rather, I believe God has shown me a clear picture of who I am and a move I need to begin making.
Over the last several months, I've spent a lot of time praying and working through a process of figuring out who God has made me to be. It's been eye-opening, to say the least. It was also quite shocking to me when I began to realize that the way God has made me and the things I can do to add the greatest value to His Kingdom don't line up very closely at all with being the senior pastor of a church. Now, this is not to say that I was not wired to plant a church. I think my gifts, etc line up pretty well with what it takes to get a church started. But, as you know, starting a church and maintaining & growing it are two different things. I guess you might disagree with me on that, but it wouldn't be a point worth arguing as I believe it with all my heart.
So, I guess I will cut to the chase. I feel like it's time for me to transition out of the role of Lead Pastor at Freedom Valley Tulsa. If you would have told me a year ago (or two or three) that I would be writing this, I would have laughed. But, through much prayer, counsel and conversation with Sara, we both feel like this is the right move.
I'm not suggesting that the church close. I think that would be a terrible move. It is a solid group of people with a lot of vision to reach our city for Jesus. Around the same time God was helping me see that my role needs to change, He was helping Josh Ploch see that his role needs to change as well. We've talked and prayed about it over the last week and we are feeling ready to have Josh assume the role of lead pastor at Freedom Valley Tulsa. Josh has been my right-hand man every second of the way and has some gifts that will help him in this new role - some gifts I was lacking.
I can't tell you exactly what our plans after Freedom Valley are, because I don't know yet. We won't stay at Freedom Valley because I believe it would be impossible for Pastor Josh to adequately lead the church with me still hanging around. We won't leave Tulsa, because we love this city and this is our home. We won't leave ministry because ministry is my calling. It's only my direction, not my calling, that is changing. Sara and I both recognize our value in high-level support roles. We both add so much value when we can function as a #2 or #3 kind of player on a team. I'm also praying about finding or creating a role coaching church planters – perhaps in conjunction with multiple churches. But to say I know our next step beyond stepping down from pastoring at Freedom Valley would be inaccurate.
Sara and I will be at Freedom Valley for the next two Sundays (April 22 & 29) to say our goodbyes and to answer any specific questions you might have. Beyond that, we will look forward to Freedom Valley in Tulsa growing and continuing to impact Tulsa under Josh's leadership.
I hope and pray that you'll receive this news well and see it as a positive move. Although it is painful in some ways, I believe it is a move that will bring greater health and fulfillment to my family and greater health and momentum to Freedom Valley in Tulsa.