(This is a re-post. It disappeared some time between last week and now.)
We are so thankful for the prayerful support of our friends and family over the last few weeks and months. We feel energized by your prayers and words of encouragement throughout this massive life transition.
After I announced my resignation from my role as lead pastor at Hope City-Southgate on Sunday April 13th I began to release day-to-day responsibilities at the church. It was strange detaching from the people and activities that had become so much a part of our lives over the last 2.5 decades. I preached two more times right up to Mother’s Day weekend when we hit the road to explore ministry opportunities in three states, in three state capital cities.
We met excellent leaders in dynamic churches and were welcomed with open arms at each stop. We were blown away by their generosity and the affirmation we were given by leaders/pastors who are among the finest in the US. When it was said and done we had three offers on the table. One offer was to plant a church while the other two were associate/campus pastor roles at very strong churches. We had decided we would not seek out a lead pastor role outside of church planting.
We returned home to South Bend in time for our final Sunday at Hope City-Southgate on June 1st. Again, we were blessed and affirmed beyond our expectations by so many of you that have loved and served along with us in ministry. Numerous friends and family made the trip to celebrate with us. It was a fantastic send-off.
Honestly, the whirlwind of emotions and options right in front of us presented a really good problem for us. But it was stressful. Where would we go? Is it time to go? We could have easily said yes to any of the offers based on the excellence of the people inviting us to their table and the exciting possibility of starting a new church or joining a growing church. All were amazing opportunities that we genuinely got excited about.
So Cynthia and I went to prayer and had numerous conversations. Not all of them were productive. We also spoke extensively with our family and trusted mentors over questions surrounding the next leg of our journey. But the more we considered what it would cost us in terms of leaving home, family and starting over, Cynthia and I became very aware we just needed more time before making such a major call for our lives. So we decided to pass on all of these opportunities to give ourselves a grace period to get to a place of peace concerning the days ahead and the possibility of relocating. God willing, we can foresee ourselves returning to church ministry at some point in the not too distant future.
We really need to dust off and work on separating from that which has become second nature for us over the last 25 years. Don’t misread this as bitterness or anger directed at the church in general or our beloved church family at Hope City-Southgate. We love the ‘local church, flaws and all, and will continue to engage and support the mission of the church. We have an opportunity to hit the refresh button on our life and get to level ground as we consider future possibilities. We will do just that.
For now, we will remain in South Bend, take some time to catch our breath and work jobs in the telecommunications industry for friends that understand and honor our calling as church leaders. I will continue on with my local chaplaincy work and we will make these days count and enjoy the journey even though it's different than what we expected it to be 30 days go. I am excited that my availability will be such that I can take speaking opportunities as they come my way.
Both of us are excited to now prioritize our lives around our family and trying our hand at some new stuff. We are excited and doing well.
Once again we are so grateful for your friendship, support and understanding. And although we will remain in the area it's time for us to embrace a new way of life away from full-time church ministry… at least for now.
Sunday, June 15, 2014
The guy on the left is my father in law, Johnny Bullard. I call him "Lucky Pup" but we won't get into that right now. He often embarrasses the dear woman on the right, my mother in law, Jackie. He has a tendency to speak before he thinks and say things that are not politically correct. He isn't complicated or lose much sleep over others' opinions of him. If he has to use the toilet everyone will know about it because he likes to announce such things. But he will literally let a stranger take a shower in his house with no notice. But we won't get into that right now either.
There are many things my Dad is not, but what he IS makes him an amazing Father. He loves people and he loves God. He thinks he has the best family in the world even though we all know we couldn't possibly be as talented as the tales he tells about us. He will sing a song upon request in the middle of a crowded room at the top of his lungs. "Bullfrog" is his favorite. Just ask him to sing it sometime in the church lobby or at Meijer. He will recite Psalm 34 at the drop of a hat with tears streaming down his cheeks, but will fight past it while looking you square in the eyes. It's awkward, but so beautiful. He can't help himself. He's just a good man and a great dad. Hey Pup... from all your kids and grand kids, I want to wish you the very best Father's Day ever. We love you. You're irreplaceable.
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Friday, March 9, 2012
“It is always the simple things that change our lives. And these things never happen when you are looking for them to happen. Life will reveal answers at the pace life wishes to do so. You feel like running, but life is on a stroll. This is how God does things.” Donald Miller
At times I just have to pull out my regular pattern and rhythm of life. Cynthia and I have learned to love Chicago because it forces us into a different mindset. It's just a totally different groove. I hear God in the city in ways that refresh my thinking and faith. The surroundings also refresh how we see one another... Seeing each other in a different light, so to speak. I feel really blessed to be able to do this from time to time.
Monday, February 20, 2012
Friday, January 27, 2012
I was privileged to share my story with Mark Meyer and the Maximizer guys that meet weekly to talk about making an impact through business in the context of the kingdom of God and the local church. They were so receptive and supportive! A real blessing! I rediscovered (as I do quite regularly) the heartbeat of our vision found in Jeremiah 29:7 "Seek the Welfare of the city where I have sent you..." It dawned on me as I was driving to the 6:30 am meeting that "J297" would probably be the best way to describe what I want to be about. What a great way to start the day!
Saturday, October 22, 2011
I've learned after 25 years of marriage to Cynthia what she loves to hear. Perhaps you might suppose "I love you!" or other sweet messages, but that's not what my wife loves to hear. She loves to hear the sound of a vacuum cleaner with me at the controls. She is more of a show-me kind of girl than a tell-me type. I actually do verbalize my love for her quite often but mostly because "words of affirmation" is my love language. Hers is "acts of service." She appreciates when I tell her nice things, but it means more to her when there is a healthy balance of other sounds around the house as well. I love to serve my wife.