Friday, November 26, 2004

Baby Steps

Jasper Speaks:

Well tonight I called my SP and resigned. He was going to call the elders and let them know. He will announce it on Sunday. It is going to be a long, hard day. We are planning on telling the students first at the end of Sunday School and then he will announce it to the church in the beginning of the service. I trust him completely and know he will articulate our feeling well. I am sure I would just be a blubbering idiot if I tried to speak then.

It is a bit surreal to be at this point. I keep applying for jobs online. It is my new career it seems! We are jumping out of the boat and trusting God from here. Our friend Jessica was here tonight and we welcomed the distraction. We love her and she has just found her true love in George from Mission Raleigh. So tonight was awesome as we sat together and talked about wedding plans and how good God has been to her. It will be hard to leave her behind in New England. She has become a dear friend. It helps to know that she is planning on moving to Raleigh soon. I guess I am just a little selfish.

I am finding out that I am not alone in this battle. I have another friend who is only steps behind doing the same thing in ministry right now. I hope we can encourage each other as we walk out on faith. Also, I am getting some real encouragement from the YS Message Board Community. I have spent a lot of time on those boards forging friendships and I am very thankful for that. Tonight my friend Bill called me. He was such an encouragement. A couple of people have written me special notes that have been encouraging as well.

Now I am just wanting Sunday to be over. Get this out and let people know. Tomorrow I have to call the youth leaders and the families under my care as an elder. It will be very difficult but each baby step gets us closer to saying goodbye. We are speaking mostly of leaving to take care of my parents but there are so many other reasons that brought us to this point. I want to get my life together spiritually. It is crap at the moment. I need to become a part of a great church with paths of service and growth for me. Kendra needs that as well. Though the move will bring it challenges, I have to believe it will also bring rewards.

Baby steps. Faith-filled, grace-given, baby steps.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

A Major Step Of Faith

Jasper Speaks:

Our trip to Missouri did not go as we had hoped. We were interviewing for a new staff position at a great church. In the end we were not extended a call because positive votes came up four votes short. We had been riding high on a wave of very positive meetings and interviews. It was quite a blow not only to us but to the search committee and the church staff as well. The negativity seemed to come from nowhere. It has been a difficult few days here. We have been praying as to whether we should just move back to Missouri or stick it out here.

The truth is the pull home is very firm. My parents are now "elderly" and not in the best health. I need to be there for them. Also, the passion feels gone in our ministry here. In truth it has been dying for a long time. The church here is not the church I came to almost five years ago. The staff is different and even if they don't see it, the whole philosophy of ministry is different. I have not been able to grow simply as a Christian here even if I have grown professionally. Although I have no doubt that these are wonderful Christian people and that they care for us very much, I am not at home in this congregation. We were looking for a way out and God did not provide it in ministry.

Still, I really love what I do. I love the teens. It makes my stomach hurt a little to know I would have to rejoin corporate America if we return to Missouri. I also am not overly thrilled at the prospect of being 35 and living with my wife in my parent's basement. But I do think it would be cool to just go to church somewhere and not be in charge of anything. For 15 years I have been a pastor and have not been able to take full advantage of church life as a result. It could be nice to warm a pew for a little while I guess. Since my dad is a pastor, I have actually been in ministry all my life. I would like to just go and be a layperson for awhile I think.

But still we struggle with abandoning the call. If we leave now are we letting God down? Does He not call us to forsake all things for Him? And not to sound like a broken record but I love being a Youth Pastor. I am sure I will not find anything as rewarding or fitting for me again.

As can be the case with Churches, the word that we were looking is basically out. It frustrates me that Christians can't keep their pie holes shut and seem to revel in telling things they shouldn't. It saddens me that this congregation that seems to really understand God still has disappointed us in the betrayal of confidence. Oh well, people are people I suppose. However, because the church is buzzing about our leaving, we feel we really have no other choice.

So, I guess as I send this entry out into the void, I ask that if you read this take a moment and pray for us. It does seem as though we will be resigning on Sunday and leaving the day after Christmas. Our hearts are heavy and a little scared. There is no money and there are no jobs waiting for us. We are going to take a leap and trust that God will provide for our needs. We are trying to listen to the voice of truth.