(Picture courtesy of Morethings.com)
According to Wikipedia, David Bowie’s single, Changes, was released in 1972. The lyrics are believed to capture “a manifesto for his chameleonic personality, the frequent change of the world today, and frequent reinventions of his musical style throughout the 1970s.”
It is difficult for me to hear the word “changes” uttered without immediately rephrasing it in my head to, “ch-ch-ch-ch-changes!” Maybe you have the same problem. Even if you’re not familiar with this song, you’re very aware of how constant change is.
Like Bowie, I’ve been going through some ch-ch-ch-ch-changes…
This past Sunday I announced to my church that I’ve resigned from my position as Associate Pastor. I had a chance to pull an “Ellen” and take a #selfie to mark how grateful we are for this beautiful community.
There are many layers to this decision, but the main reason is to pursue a dream I have about initiating or being a part of a holistic Christ-centered community in the city of Edmonton. Everything about this dream is fuzzy and seemingly impossible. I only have fragments of what it might look like:
a culturally diverse people who love and learn from one another; an invitation to follow the way of Jesus no matter your creed, faith, orientation or wealth; a call to have our hearts broken and hands moving with those who are working towards justice, dignity and inclusion; an enterpreneurial experiment that contributes to the economic well-being of a community; a place for contemplation and silence; a learning hub for a myriad of subjects; and a financially self-sustaining organization that is run and operated by volunteers.
I realize this is all over the place. It’s going to take years before anything tangible materializes so I’m in no hurry to get this started. All I’m doing right now is taking the next step.
Working as a Pastor in a local church has many positives. (Many that I’ve begun to grieve.) Yet, fundamentally, I can’t continue to work like this when everything in me screams, “I don’t want to get paid to Pastor!” For the last few years, I saw myself as less of a “traditional” Pastor and more of a Volunteer Co-ordinator. This mental re-framing allowed me to placate the tension I felt. Eventually, through circumstances and some pivotal conversations with friends, I was able to realize anew that all my angst and discontent was for a purpose.
For too long, I’ve been hostile and critical about the system Evangelical churches find themselves in, while at the same time benefiting from that system. Hi, my middle name is Hypocrite. It’s amazing how good I am at accommodating dissonance!
Am I scared? Yes. Do I feel anxious I don’t have a job lined up? Very. Am I certain I’m making the right decision? Absolutely.
Despite the fear of uncertainty, the stress of not finding a job, and the discomfort of being in transition, I’m at peace. Something inside of me is coming alive. Through all this, Kelsey has been a rock. She’s been my biggest fan and supporter. She’s been that voice of hope and encouragement that I’ve clung to. I don’t think any of this would have even proceeded any further if she hadn’t been so adamant about us taking this risk. The leadership and community of City Centre Church have been exceptionally affirming and helpful. To ease some of my stress, I’ve been allowed to remain on staff until the end of June to extend my job search.
So, it’s not that I’m venturing on this alone. I feel the love from all directions and will rely on the continued support and prayers of many.
As one friend recently encouraged me with her own times of transition,”I found my most important factor in going through transition was vulnerability and the practice of asking for/being willing to receive help and guidance, which definitely went against my ingrained independent nature. But once I did that (because I certainly needed it) it freed me up in a lot of ways.”