I wasn’t expecting to tear up but yes – and thanks to those who noticed and asked – I did tear up on stage at Megachurch! Towards the end, as we were reflecting on the interviews we had during the morning and the responsibility God has given each of us to serve his people and the world, I said something like: Given how awesome this church is, why would you ever think of leaving? My emotions caught me and there was a moment where I could not speak and my eyes became wet before I pulled myself together and carried on.
The question is a good one though: Given how awesome this church is, why would you ever think of leaving?
Being the Senior Minister of a Church is a wonderful and serious responsibility. I have been charged with being a messenger, watchman and steward of the Lord; to teach and forewarn, to feed and provide for the Lord’s family; to seek Christ’s sheep who are scattered abroad, and for his children who are surrounded by temptation in this world that they may be saved through Christ forever. I was exhorted to have printed on my mind how great a treasure is committed to my care. That treasure is you and I have sought to shepherd the people of Campbelltown under God with all my might. So why leave?
There is always a spiritual element to leaving a ministry and going to a new one. We entrust ourselves to the providence of God and his calling and I can say that we do certainly believe that God has called us to a new ministry at this time. There was no flash of lightning or word from God but as we prayed there were many confirmations that this is from God.
There is a gifting element to leaving a ministry and going to a new one. Sometimes this is because the ministry you are in is not one you are gifted for; sometimes it is because you have gifts that ought to be put to use elsewhere. St Ives is a large and complex church and the training and encouragement I have had from you here has prepared me and our family for this next challenge.
There is an Anglican diocese element to leaving a ministry and going to a new one. Our diocese needs people to lead churches and it needs people who are able assistants to take on Senior Minister roles. It needs Senior Ministers in small churches who are able to take medium size churches and some then to take on larger churches as their skill and capacity develops. The diocese is heading towards a crisis of leadership at this time and needs people to keep stepping up to leadership.
Then there is an opportunity element to leaving a ministry and going to a new one. At St Ives there is a very large group of young people who are ready, willing and able to be challenged to consider full-time vocational ministry. This is a work that I am passionate about the opportunity to shape a large number of people for the work of the Gospel in the next generation is something I am excited about.
There are a million other factors that went into this big decision but I want to assure you that we have not made the decision to leave lightly or carelessly but after much prayer and consultation with friends and mentors. We will depart thankful but with heavy hearts for we know how great a treasure you are!