Today, during a congregational meeting, the members of Riverfront Family Church, called a team of new pastors to co-lead the church. This comes after months of prayer and discernment by the leadership, board, transition team and members.
Named as the new Co-Pastors are three current members of the church, including myself. Each of us will be part-time, will share decision-making and leadership responsibilities, and will have equal authority. In other words, our church is fully embracing and going all-in on a team-based model of leadership.
This is all very exciting — and also tragic.
The tragic part is that the impetus for these changes is that our founding pastor is a year in on fighting ALS and can no longer lead the church in day-to-day operations. Her ALS has been aggressive and it has been devastating for her, her family and our church. While I have never seen someone with so much faith and hope, this is truly a tragedy.
It is also exciting. Despite the tragedy, our church is actually in a very healthy and growing place. And we believe that God has a great plan for RFC — and that the best days for our young church lie ahead.
We are a progressive evangelical church. What that mostly means is we take following Jesus and His Way really seriously and allow Him to touch all areas of our life. That means we embrace radical inclusivity and pursuit of justice and a commitment to make earth more like heaven. It means that we are a church where no perfect people are allowed and doubters and skeptics are welcomed. It means we are a church for seekers and believers and believers who have become seekers and seekers who find themselves believing. We are a church that rejects bumper-sticker theology, black-and-white ethics, and a simplified view of the world. We are fully egalitarian and fully inclusive of the LGBT community. Adoption and foster care are a way of life for our church; children are at the center of our church’s mission; Jesus is Lord of our church.
It is the best church I have ever been a part of and it will be a humbling privilege to help lead it as a co-pastor.
And for me, this move is also very redemptive.
When I left my last church over almost 7 years ago, I thought my days of leading in the local church were done. I thought it was likely that I had given my last sermon. My ability to use my gifts in the church were done.
Two years ago, a friend and mentor from Panama, sat down with me over breakfast at my restaurant. It was a surprise visit, as I did not know that he was in the States. One of the things he said to me then was that he thought I had “benched myself long enough” and it was time to get back in the game.
He was right about at least one thing: I think I had benched myself longer than my Father had. He wasn’t going to force me back into the game, but the invitation was there. His grace is always sufficient… I just needed to show myself the same grace He had.
That conversation led me to start transitioning out of my 80-hour weeks working at the restaurant. Within three months, I had made the decision to move to my current job — feeding the homeless and the poor, fighting poverty and food insecurity, teaching the disadvantaged job skills so they can get ahead in life. My current full-time job is the best job I have ever had — and this new position as co-pastor won’t change my role at all.
But over the last year or so, others have spoken into my life, about pursuing more preaching, more pastoral ministry, more leadership.
This is new position as co-pastor, combined with my full time role, is really a perfect fit for me, my gifts, my passions, my experiences.
And it feels like a second chance.
Most people don’t get a second chance in ministry.
I am so deeply thankful and humbled by this calling.
I can honestly say, this is what I was born to do.
Praise be to God!