On October 10, 2010 (10/10/10) I sat in the small cafe we had created in what used to be the kitchen for the fellowship hall and waited to see if the church would vote for me to be Lead Pastor at Open Door. Though I had been on staff for almost three years at that point, there was a nervous anticipation because my future was in the hands of the people. The church constitution required at least 80% approval for me to become the Lead Pastor. The elders led about 180 people through the process of voting and after counting all of the ballots, Open Door had chosen me to become their pastor. It was a very emotional moment for me and my family and a joyous beginning for both the church and our family.
This weekend we passed the five year mark of that date. Certain markers bring about a certain amount of reflection in my life and the five year anniversary of becoming the Lead Pastor at Open Door is one of those times. I could fill pages with the wonderful memories we have created, but here are five reflections of the past five years that are at the front of my mind.
Grace is Amazing
We sing the song and know the lyrics, but sometimes we fail to think about the amazing grace moments in our lives. The night Open Door voted for me to become the Lead Pastor was one of those amazing grace moments in my life. Though the church had already shown me an enormous amount of grace over the previous five years while we attended and then came on staff, the fact that they would trust me to lead the congregation was truly an amazing moment. There had been moments of time when I wondered if I would ever have that opportunity again. Not only was I given that opportunity, I was given the opportunity with the best group of people on the planet. I am still amazed today at the grace shown to me.
Growth is work
That is an understatement. Growth does not happen by accident. Growth requires preparation, includes growing pains, and sometimes requires loss. Adding more services on Sunday requires everyone to work harder. Construction of new buildings requires committed givers. New staff requires dedication to selecting the right person. New campuses require all of those resources and more. I am thankful for the growth we have experienced in each of these areas, but none of it has been easy. Healthy growth requires work.
Change is difficult
It is impossible to grow without change and change can be difficult. When a young couple adds a tiny baby to their family, great change takes place with this little addition. When hundreds of new people come into our church, it brings change that can be difficult. It is change you want because you want new people, but it doesn’t remove the challenges of the change. Sometimes it is style or atmosphere while other times it may require new buildings or service times. The most difficult changes involve people. Sometimes it is a staff member leaving or someone who is a part of the church who moves or chooses to no longer attend. The people change is often heartbreaking and offer the greatest struggles. Though I am aware it is impossible to keep everyone, the reality of it is still difficult.
The right people improve everything
In the discussion of the right people, I must start with the fine people who make up Open Door. I believe Open Door is made up of the best people on the planet. I could not have asked for a group of people to be more accepting and loving than what we have experienced from the wonderful family we have gained at Open Door. On top of the people that call Open Door home, there are ten staff members that I get to work with each week. The right people make me much more successful at my job and improve the quality of my life. Every single person helps me become a better leader, person and most importantly a better disciple of Christ.
The best days are ahead
At times I am in awe at what God has allowed us to accomplish in the last five years. However I am convinced of one thing: our best days are ahead of us. I do not believe we have crested the hill or that the good old days are our reward. I truly believe what lies ahead will be some of the greatest victories and accomplishments for the Kingdom. For these to be our best days, we will need to continue to show amazing grace to people who walk through our doors. We will have to work for growth and deal with the difficulty of change. It will require us to continue to grow ourselves so we are the right people for the job. When those things happen, great will always be in our future.
I am thankful for the past five years. I am excited about what the next five years will bring. This is not the end, but just the beginning. There is work for us to do!