What some of you have been waiting for! Michelle and I have some great news ... for us!
About 3 months ago, I was contacted by Vanderbloemen Search Group as they searched for the next Lead pastor of a church they had been contracted by. I had sent them my resume a little over a month earlier and they felt I might be a fit. After an initial interview, they set me up with a face to face interview with one of their senior search specialist, who was handling the details for this particular church. While interviewing for that church, they contacted me about another position which I might fit. They decided to put that one on hold while we worked through the first possibility. As Michelle and I studied the church, prayed over them, and researched the area they are planted, my heart began to grow fond of them. I fell in love with their vision and we felt that they cherished what we cherished. In mid-July, Vanderbloemen presented my candidacy along with what I believe were 4 other men they believed would fit the church's culture. This took a little bit of waiting on our part which turned into desperate prayers for God to give us a yes or no. As a little more time passed, I sensed that we might not be a fit and that the Lord might have something else for us. Then I received the email informing me that I was no longer a candidate for that position and the church decided to move in a direction that wasn't ours. After breaking the news to my wife and taking a driving to have a hard talk with my Daddy, I reached out to Vanderbloemen again to see if we might fit the second position that had been discussed.
That conversation went well also, but after a week, they decided to present other candidates and did not include me in that presentation. At this point, we are in the first week of August and we had promised to give Matt Stapleton back his house, as he had come home early from his time overseas. Michelle and I cried out to the Lord and didn't know what we were to do. Our time in the home had run out, our money was almost gone and we were facing selling almost everything we had, then moving back to Memphis with my parents to start life over. I was crushed and it took a lot of time in God's Word and through prayer for me to hear this from the Lord; "If I called you to this journey, I am not going to fail you in this journey". That gave me the peace but I didn't like the decision. Michelle and I decided to move back to Memphis and begin over. This decision felt as if I was leaving the pastorate permanently. Then I had lunch with our pastor here at Urbancrest.
Pastor Tom, took me to lunch at Bob Evans, a restaurant in which we started our relationship with each other in 2005. In 2005 I was a youth pastor leaving the youth ministry, believing my time there was done and he was looking for a youth pastor. This time, I felt like a pastor leaving the ministry and he was looking for a pastor to lead Urbancrest's Resource Ministry and Church Planting efforts. As we talked, it was clear that their wasn't enough money for my family to live off of. I left that meeting thankful for the job offer, but with a sense that it wasn't going to work. I went home and ran the numbers and they fell incredibly short every time. So, back to my knees I went again hearing the Lord say; "If I called you to this journey, I am not going to fail you in this journey". God had also been using a book called "Reaching the Unreached: Becoming Raiders of the Lost Art" by Peyton Jones to upset my comfort seeking heart for two months and I could feel the Spirit saying; "try me and see what faith does in this situation". So we said yes to Tom. We didn't know how God was going to cover the $1100 gap between what we needed and what was offered but we were going to trust that if its HIS WILL, ITS' HIS BILL! However, it hasn't been that easy. We still didn't have a place to live and we told Matt we would give him his house back August 31st. I looked at several houses that might fit my family but was those homes were renting out from underneath us and one company didn't approve us for enough rent to afford any of their houses. I could have had other houses but rent was way past the gap in our budget. For a little bit, I thought that maybe I made a mistake and that it was time to go back to Memphis. Then I had a thought to ask God for more time in the house, allowing us to find something that we could fit in. God had already been working on Matt. He decided to give us up to 6 more months in his house so that we could find something big enough for our family and something that fits in our budget. Pastor Tom found a little more money for us, which closed a good portion of our gap. Michelle was hired as an independent contractor teaching kids in East Asia English online. We believe she will not only make up our gap, but exceed it which will allow us to begin the process of getting our kids teeth fixed and working on getting debt free faster.
It has been a crazy three weeks, but we are excited to announce that we are staying at Urbancrest and I am returning to a staff that I love. I am now one of the Local Missions Pastors. I will be concentrating my first couple of months reorganizing the Resource Ministry with the great team that is already there. I have also reassumed the Assimilation Process that we begun in March for those who might join Urbancrest. In the fall, I will begin to work on creating a church planting pipeline through our church and hopefully we can join the church planting efforts throughout Cincinnati, Ohio and the United States.
Please pray for us to lead well and love well those that God is giving to us. Please pray that we find an affordable home that is large enough to give my kids some personal space they need. Pray that God will begin a church planting movement through the discipling we will be leading.
Thank you for praying for us. They have been felt and the Lord has given us some answers that we had not looked for. I pray you have been encouraged by our journey and that you will trust God for the journey He is giving to you! Well, there it is and now ... well that's God's to write!