The center of Christianity is endings and new beginnings, death and resurrection, leaving and launching into new unknowns. I have written and preached it. Now I am living it in a new way.
Tonight is the Celebration of our 26 years at New Life Fellowship Church. This Sunday I preach my final message as Senior Pastor on “Lessons Learned in 26 Years at NLF.” I then officially transition to a new role within New Life under the new leadership (i.e. Rich Villodas and the Elder Board) on October 6th.
I am continually asked by leaders around the country: “Really, Pete, how are you?”
My answer: “I am thrilled and excited beyond words. I could never have imagined such a gift. Yes. I have some normal apprehensions, but this has been one of the highlights of my life. I would recommend it to every senior pastor!”
This is the culmination of a 4½ year succession process. The first 1½ years of imagining the unknown were the most difficult. During that time, God severed my identity from my comfortable role as senior pastor. It was a cutting. This death required me to examine deeper levels of my genogram and family of origin.
But it is also a glorious resurrection and wonder. Foundational biblical truths have come alive to me in new ways (e.g. the cross, His love, my identity).
Remember, God’s pathway to new beginnings have three overlapping, but distinct, phases:
1. Endings. You can’t have new beginnings without endings.
2. Waiting. This is the “no man’s land,” the neutral zone of emptiness, chaos, meaninglessness, and confusion. Yet this is the place of God birthing new seeds, dreams, insights, directions, revelations to us.
3. New Beginnings. These are often untidy and messy as they begin. Only in retrospect do they look clean and orderly.
Yes, painful endings truly must come first for God’s new beginnings to come forth. But I have been enjoying new beginnings for the last year and a half.
At a NLF Annual Vision meeting, I updated our church on my process of transition. Read the accompanying letter to this talk that outlines our succession process.
I hope this video encourages you to be responsive to God’s invitation, at different seasons of your own life, and to let go as He leads — for the sake of His glory, other people’s development, and yourself.