Life from the rear-view mirror

When our Compass tumbles… VOL 104

April 2, 2016 | Comment

Concept image of a lost and confused signpost against a blue cloudy sky.

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Two days ago our senior pastor resigned.

There was no power struggle or scandal. No immorality. No one asked him to step down. No one would have ever thought he was thinking of leaving.
Truthfully, at 15 years into the ministry here… he was senior pastor of a vibrant, growing church of well over 2000 members and attenders who called Northridge home…and who attended one of three campuses in the greater Rochester area.

David successfully led a major transition of a small traditional church through tremendous change and growth. It took 15 years. I was there for 8 of them. It wasn’t easy at times, and, if we can believe anything about what it takes to transition a small church to where we are now…the change was unlikely to work. But it did.
So why would any senior pastor leave a ministry like this ? Why now when God is so obviously blessing?
It’s a question many of us are still wrestling with… if we’re honest.  Isn’t success in ministry defined by the growth and maturity of the congregation and staff? Isn’t that what’s happening here? We call it “more and better disciples” and if you look around isn’t that evident? The answer is “yes” if you hadn’t guessed.
So what makes a senior pastor resign, leave the pastorate and move his family 1500 miles away, then take a cut in pay on top of it all?
I’m totally convinced that it is God moving in him to use him in a different way… In a different role…In a different place. Not that ministry in any sense is easy…But the convenient thing for David might have been to say…”Lord, I’m comfortable here. We have a good thing going… You are at work right here!” But he didn’t. He was listening for God’s voice. And when he heard it… He responded with “yes.” Even though God’s voice could have been drowned out by all the ministry and personal success. Or by the staff he had groomed and grown…or the voices of those folks who come Sunday after Sunday investing their time, their money and their heart in this church. Investing in the vision that God led David to cast. David could have been swayed by the lives that have been changed for the gospel’s sake because of God’s faithfulness or by those of us who just love him and want him to stay.
But he is leaving. And with that departure, dreaded change will be ushered in. Things might get bumpy…uncertain maybe.
We as a church body have a choice to make. Some will choose well and sadly…some will choose poorly.  We can take our ball and go home…hurt and disillusioned or we can dig in, pray up and look forward to what God is going to do next at Northridge.
It won’t necessarily be easy…in fact,  I’m sure it will be hard. It will still hurt to see David and his family go. But for what it’s worth, I’m convinced that this is a move authored by God for the benefit of David, his family AND Northridge.
So we start a new transition at Northridge. Last night we talked about it in community group. And while it’s true that our circumstances at Northridge are changing…God never does. He is the rock that our faith and hope and trust rely on. We can never lose sight of that.
People will come and go in our lives. Some, like David… will impact our lives so greatly and profoundly that when they change direction unexpectedly, our compasses tumble and it takes us a while to get our bearing. That’s OK. God is faithful. This is his church, we are his people and we live for his honor and glory. And he, God, the designer and builder of all we know will keep us and love us through the changes and beyond. He is our purpose and direction. We are at work building his kingdom on earth until we join him in heaven one day.
So it is with Godspeed that we say goodbye to David Whiting and family for now… and wish them all God’s blessings in this new adventure.

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