Change is inevitable. Change is great. Change is hard.
As an Ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church I am appointed to my ministry positions. Following the Acts 13 model, we believe in a "sent" ministry. Pastors are not hired or fired. We have a leadership base that sends pastors to different churches. The goal is to send pastors where their gifts and graces meet the ministry and missional needs of a local church. With that said, I found out recently I am being sent to First UMC Pace, Florida as their Senior Pastor. My family and I are very excited about this opportunity, but we will certainly miss our time here in Crestview.
I was sent to First UMC Crestview 5 years ago and it was a great fit. I have loved being at this church. They have spoiled my family in numerous ways. It's been an amazing journey with the youth ministry here. We started with ten kids on two pews in an old youth house. God brought together a special group of volunteers and teenagers and things began to grow. Soon the youth house was overflowing. Crowded room of teenagers + a sometimes working A/C unit = smelly youth house. It didn't matter. Kids kept inviting kids and we kept growing.
Eventually the church allowed us to use their main sanctuary for worship. You know you have an awesome church when they allow the teenagers to use their main sanctuary. I wasn't sure how the students would react to being in such a different atmosphere. Again, God's spirit moved and we didn't miss a beat.
We spent over a year in the sanctuary, but plans were drawn to build a new facility. One third of this new building was dedicated to our youth. We moved into our new facilities in 2012.
I love our new building and I love that our youth group has grown. More importantly, however, I've loved seeing students fall in love with Jesus. I've loved seeing students grow in their faith. I've loved seeing them serve and help other people. I've loved seeing them pray together.
I've even loved the messy games. Never mind, I didn't love that. But I did love all the fun times and laughing until it hurts.
Like I said before, we are very excited about our new appointment. I cannot wait to get started at FIrst UMC Pace. Change is great. But change is hard because it also means saying goodbye to something else. Saying goodbye to these students and this church will be very difficult. They have been a second family for us. During this time of transition, the song "Oceans" by Hillsong United has been very encouraging. I especially love these lyrics:
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders.
Let me walk upon the waters wherever you would call me.
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.
Change is inevitable. Change is great. Change is hard. Spirit lead us...