Whether it’s a song or a well written book, there are few things I love more than immersing myself into a great storyline. One of my favorite storytellers is Carrie Newcomer. Her words speak to my heart and cause me to think deeper and love better. So, with that brief introduction, I hope you’ll indulge me a moment and watch the attached video of her song “You Can Do This Hard Thing”.
Yesterday, I announced my resignation as the campus pastor at Granger Community Church – Elkhart campus. It was a hard thing and this morning these words describe me perfectly…
“Here we stand breathless
And pressed in hard times
Hearts hung like laundry
On backyard clothes lines”
Brenda and I have made many difficult decisions in the last 29 years, but this one ranks up there at the top. We feel really busted up and broken but we are filled with the confidence that, not only was our decision correct, our future is bright, although it’s lacking in clarity momentarily. We have heard and felt support from so many of you. I hear stories of pastors who struggle in situations that sound like a nightmare from Hades but serving you, the people of Elkhart, has been just the opposite experience.
The best of humanity serves and worships Jesus at the corner of Bristol and Bay.
What I know is that I am a shepherd/pastor at my core. When you have spent your days pouring into people to only find yourself having a deep need for that same “pouring into” and getting it back ten-fold, the experience is both humbling and deeply moving. Thank you to all of our friends who have been so kind with your words of affection and grace. We can never thank you enough for what we believe to be one of the greatest blessings of our lives…serving you, the people of GCC Elkhart. We love you! No goodbyes – just a see you later.
GOD BLESS YOU AND KEEP YOU, GOD SMILE ON YOU AND GIFT YOU,
GOD LOOK YOU FULL IN THE FACE AND MAKE YOU PROSPER.
For those of you that were unable to attend this weekend, here is my statement to the Sunday morning gathering:
“First of all, I hope you know that Brenda and I love you all. Together, with you, we’ve transformed this place that we call HOME at the corner of Bristol and Bay into a vibrant hope-filled, Jesus-centered space. Together, we have experienced sorrow and joy, times of loss and new beginnings and we’ve listened and celebrated as our stories turned from stories of brokenness to stories of redemption and transformation. Together we’ve acknowledged that our stories are not yet finished and that as we journey with each other we serve each other in the best way we know – encouraging, helping, sharpening each other as we go. That’s what I hope you know.
What you may not know is that over the last few years our leadership teams have been considering the best way forward for the Granger and Elkhart campuses. We dug into questions like: How do we work together? How can both campuses thrive and grow as a multisite church? In the process, we’ve considered several different scenarios but ultimately the decision was made to remain one church with two locations. And with that decision I know that my leadership philosophy no longer fits with the trajectory of the Elkhart campus and so we’ve made one of the most difficult decisions of our lives. That being, that my time as pastor here at GCCElk has come to a close and that today will be my final Sunday as your campus pastor. The years at Elkhart have afforded me many opportunities for growth and influence. The work has been challenging and fruitful and I am forever grateful for your trust.
Around GCC, we talk all the time about the importance of trusting God and taking the right next step. Brenda and I intend to do just that – to trust God and move forward into what is unknown territory for us. We believe there is important work for us to do and we are committed to discovering what that is in the days and weeks ahead.
My family’s departure doesn’t stop this work that Jesus is doing here in Elkhart. This is Christ’s Church and by His grace you will continue to love and serve this community. Above all else, please listen to Jesus and follow Him first!”
Gene, I was shocked when I heard the news. Your leadership has been a great experience for our church and you and your family will be deeply missed. I will never forget your enthusiasm –pure enthusiasm, no questions when I spoke to you about Brody’s yearning to be baptized. I don’t know what I was expecting but obviously not the excitement you showed us. It meant so much to him to do this and you made sure it happened. Others may have questioned it or hesitated but your response really warmed my heart.
Your presence at our little church will be a huge void but at the same time we wish you all the best, knowing that God doesn’t withhold His best to His children. May you and your family be blessed in your decision and may He use you in an amazing way in the near future. Keep in touch with us please, we want to know what God has in mind for you.
Susan, thank you for your well wishes! You and Brody are extra special to me and baptizing Brody is one of my highlights in my time at Elkhart. Gods best to you both -g
Bart and I are fairly new to the Elkhart congregation, but your welcoming spirit and personal attention helped immensely in our commitment to GCC at Bristol and Bay. Your gift was showing us Jesus living and thriving in you as our guide.
We will miss your leadership, but trust the He has plans for you beyond your grandest thought.
Thank you for helping us find a place in our home at Bristol and Bay.
Debbi, I love that you and Bart have found your home at GCC Elkhart. Your optimism and faith are inspiring and infectious. You’ve been a great encouragement to me as well. Love -g
My family and I were saddened at the news of you (and your family) leaving. You have always been so kind to my family and I. I truly enjoyed the times spent chatting in your office. I have the utmost respect for you and you will be deeply missed. God has big things in store for you and Brenda. Of that I am certain. May God keep you and guide you until that final day, when we met him face to face. God speed and I love you brother.
Tim, thank you for all the encouragement and love from you and your family. We will miss you greatly! -g
Praying for you and your family!
You and Brenda truly are amazing Christ like friends. You take time for people and you love people right where they are. You are honest and challenging and you helped me see things in my life that weren’t working out. You guide you don’t judge. You have integrity and have passion for all people. I am so thankful and honored to have you as my pastor and friend. And as I am so sad to see you step down I wish you only blessing and abundance as God reveals your next calling and will keep seeking Jesus because of you and Brenda.