by Susan Shipe
Our church leadership is changing. Our wonderful pastor, Ron Drake Sr, is retiring by the end of this year. He not only founded Community Church, Mountain City, TN, but he has pastored it for thirty years. He, and his lovely wife, Nancy, have been faithful beyond the call of duty! You couldn’t find better under-shepherds anywhere. Even better, they have become cherished and treasured friends. We will not say good-bye to friendship but we will move out of the way with them in order to make space for new leadership in the church.
Now, for some that might sound sad and hard, but for a change-lover like me, it brings great excitement!
I am excited for the generations behind me and our church fellowship is filled to the brim with Gen Xer’s (born 1965-1976), Millennials (born 1977-1995), and Gen Z or Centennials (born 1996 to present). There are still several Boomers (born 1946 to 1964) and a few from the Silent Generation (born before 1945).
Pastor Ron has built a sound biblical foundation for the church. He is as solid as granite and unwavering in his faith. I consider myself well-schooled by both his teaching and his character in the fifteen years we have attended Community Church. But Pastor Ron recognizes it is time to move out of the way and let God do something new.
For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. Isaiah 43.19 (NLT)
As our church walks through this transition, I am praying for a peaceful shift. Our pastor has prepared us well and we are moving forward. A few families will choose to leave, but we believe new families will come. We bless those who leave and pray God will relocate them exactly where he wants them to be. We will welcome the new.
It has been an awesome opportunity to be a part of the transition, seeing God at work. I’m especially excited to continuing to do what I’ve always done in the church – seeking to be an example of a Titus 2:4-5 woman, offering friendship and fellowship with women younger than I am.
Pastor Ron will hand his mantle over to his successor, remaining committed to God’s mission no matter what he does next. I’m hoping now that his schedule will be lighter, he and hubs will finally keep the fly-fishing date they’ve been planning for the last fifteen years!
Have you been through a changing of the guard at your church? Did you stay? What helped you decide to do so? If you left in the midst or after a transition, why did you decide to depart?
Susan is an encourager with a heart for women. Her devotion-journal, A Pruned Branch, was self-published in 2004 and is a compilation of 365 devotions for women in all walks of life. She has self-published ten books to date, including the 31-Days Series. All can be found on Amazon.
Susan is the the mother of three adult children, grandmother (a/k/a Mimzy) to 21-year old Hannah and 14+ year old Simon, and the wife of Lowell. Together they share their love with one awesome dog named Sam. Susan enjoys writing, reading, organic gardening, traveling, and spending time with her family. You can learn more about her by visiting her blog, hopehearthome.com
Transitions are hard in a church. A few years ago our youth pastor left for another ministry and our senior pastor contracted pancreas cancer and passed on. It was a year before we had a new senior pastor, and a lot of people left during that time and for a long time afterward. But a lot of new people came. I like your attitude that we bless those who go and wish them the best, and welcome those who come. I pray God sends just the right person at the right time to your church and helps everyone through the process.
Barb, we have a young, vibrant new pastor and things are going extraordinarily well!
I need to read your words every chance I get, you lover of change!
We’ve weathered a fair amount of transition in our church over the past 20-ish years that we’ve attended. My thinking is that it’s our duty to stand fast and BE the church. I don’t get to “shop” for my perfect worship experience any more than I get to toss my patient husband aside in search of the next challenge.(Ugh–cringe-worthy just to write about it.)
I want to be available to encourage the next generation of leaders and teachers in our fellowship and to model faithful showing up in my little ministry contributions.
It can be really discouraging to be “left behind” when people move on and the body changes in response to a pastor’s coming or going. I didn’t see a target date for your church’s transition. Is it coming up soon?
It happened, Michele! And, is going well. You are right – I am an agent of CHANGE!!!
Your description of change in your church sounds like a model for all to follow. When we remember, as Michele said, that we are the church it should help us all to not be shaken by changes. It’s good to read your encouraging words, Susan.
Thank you Debby – Michele is right (she always is) WE ARE THE CHURCH! xo