The following is a letter I read to my church, Ekklesia, on Sunday (with a few more added details).
In December of 2007 I wandered thirty minutes late into a small apartment Bible study taught by a guy from Maui with long flowing blond hair. I remember feeling awkward that there were only eight people in attendance, but I also remember the exhilarating realization that I had never flipped through my Bible so much during a sermon before. I was hooked. That Bible study would officially become Ekklesia a month later.
Going into that room, I had no intention of becoming a pastor, in fact it was one of the last things I would have ever wanted. I wanted to be a writer and always had wanted to be one ever since I was young. I was going for a Bachelor of Arts in English at the University of Oregon. But only a few months into attending Ekklesia, the apartment was overflowing with college students and I joined the School of Ministry. Ekklesia soon moved into the Sheldon Community Center.
I was drawn to SOM because I got to see the immediate impact of the Word of God on people’s lives. There my love for the Bible grew and we got down in the mud and worked harder than I ever had before (which was good for my nineteen-year-old self). Fast forward to the summer of 2009, Ekklesia was exploding and I became one of the church's first interns. Later that year, I became a pastor-in-training and eventually a pastor, leading the Kids Ministry, teaching classes, and loving people.
I had never wanted to be a pastor and now I was one. Go figure. What changed? I can’t explain it other than the fact that God led me to it. Through a serious of many events, He slowly changed my mind. He gave me a deep love for the people of God and an overwhelming desire to teach them the truth of His Word. I traveled with Ekklesia through many seasons, trials, and campuses, and the Lord always enabled me for the ministry in front of me.
Last year though, a question started to nag me in the back of my mind. Was I called to pastoral ministry for the rest of my life? I knew I had always felt called to bring the truth of God’s Word to people, but I also know that can take many different forms. And I knew that the form I had always felt most gifted in, most called in, was the written word. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had a deep passion for writing and for books. All of these things swirled in my mind as I considered the question of my calling.
But even as I questioned and searched, I knew I was called for the moment. Every morning I came into the office knowing that I was called to today and to give my best. The problem was that whenever I tried to look years down the road, it became murky.
It’s not that I didn’t like my job or the people I worked with. I love our staff and have always loved them. Some of my closest friends in all the world are on staff. I love Wesley and Kara and am so thankful for all the time they have poured into me and my family. They are two of the most generous, self-sacrificing individuals I have ever known. I love this church and have always loved this church. But I just wasn’t sure if God was calling me to be a pastor anymore.
After struggling with this question for many months, praying about it, and discussing it with my wife and others, I have realized that I no longer feel called to be a pastor but instead feel led to proclaim God’s truth through other means.
I have accepted a position at Harvest House Publishers to be an acquisitions editor for them, specifically looking for books and authors to publish in the realm of children and family. My wife, Rebecca, and I are united in this decision and are excited for this new season of life. I’m going to now focus my gifts and skills to bring good books that will glorify God and equip the upcoming generations and their parents. I’m also going to get the chance to live out my childhood dream of working on books. I understand that not many people get an opportunity to pursue their passions and so I’m extremely grateful for this chance.
I don’t believe it was a mistake for me to be a pastor here. I’ve grown more through being a pastor at Ekklesia than from anything else—except marriage and parenting, of course. I’ve made relationships here that will last a lifetime. I met my wife here! It wasn’t a mistake for me to be a pastor, but I personally believe not everyone is called to be one for life. Some are just called for a season. I was called to join Ekklesia at its birth, to help its staff, to be a pastor and a leader and a teacher. I don’t regret a single minute of it.
But God is moving me on now to serve him through different means. You don’t have to be a pastor to make a difference for God and to make an impact on the world. God doesn’t value one vocation over another. Being a pastor is no holier than being a plumber, a banker, a barista, a student, or in my case—an editor.
Just because I will no longer be a pastor and paid by the church, it doesn’t mean I’m going to stop being a participant in this church. We are not leaving Eugene. We are not leaving Ekklesia. You will still see me and my family on Sundays. The elders have asked and I have agreed to serve and lead as an unpaid elder here. I will still teach classes (Train students: you better be in class on April 3). I am still leading my Community Group. I am and will remain a faithful servant to this church, paid or unpaid, pastor or not, because I am a Christian and the church is my family.
Thank you for all the love I’ve been shown over the years. Thank you for loving my family. Thank you for showing me what church really should be. It’s about the glory of Christ, making disciples, and loving your neighbor. Don’t ever forget that and see that I don’t either.