Why are endings and transitions so poorly handled in our ministries, organizations, and teams? Why do we often miss God’s new beginnings, the new work he is doing? In part because we fail to apply a central theological truth—that death is a necessary prelude to resurrection. To bear long-term fruit for Christ, we need to recognize that some things must die so something new can grow. If we do not embrace this reality, we will tend to dread endings in the same way our wider culture does, as signs of failure rather than opportunities for something new. You Know You’re Not Doing Endings and New Beginnings Well When . . . • You can’t stop ruminating about something from the past. • You use busyness as an excuse to avoid taking time to grieve endings and losses. • You have a hard time identifying your difficult feelings (sadness, fear, anger). • You often find. Read more.
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.. Read more.
The center of Christianity is endings and new beginnings, death and resurrection, leaving and launching into new unknowns. Last Sunday, at our NLF Annual Vision meeting, I took 30 minutes to update our church on my process of transition at New Life Fellowship as I move from being the Senior Pastor (after 26 years) into a new role as a Teaching Pastor and Pastor-at-Large. It has been an awesome experience. 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.
A pastor friend of mine shared over dinner that, a number of years ago, his son had committed suicide. He talked openly his loss and the way it had changed him. He recommended Grieving a Suicide, by Albert Y. Hsu where Hsu talks about his father’s suicide and that of many others – Christian and non-Christians. While I have written about a theology of grief and loss, God used this book to enlarge my own heart and challenge me to enter into this very different world. Approximately a million people around the world kill themselves each year. Every suicide leaves behind at least six survivors, sometimes ten or more. Their level of stress is ranked by the APA as “catastrophic — equivalent to that of a concentration camp experience.” A spirituality of suffering, grief, and loss is untidy – bottomless. I found, however, this quote by Walter Wangerin a helpful summary of Hsu’s reflections::. Read more.
We have not done a good job of remembering Good Friday or Holy Saturday in the Western church. We like to quickly jump to Easter. Tonight at New Life Fellowship Church, on Good Friday, we will remember Christ’s crucifixion through a Tenebrae (meaning “darkness” or “shadows”) style service. The service of Tenebrae has been practiced by the church since medieval times. Tenebrae is a prolonged meditation on Christ’s passion, using Scripture, silence, worship, and darkness. As lights are progressively extinguished, we enter into the overwhelming reality of His death. After the final candle is extinguished, we will sit in total darkness for 5 minutes, reminding us of the terrible horror of Jesus laid in the tomb. Why? The cross is the pattern of our lives. Everything happened to Jesus in some way happens to us. That includes the tomb. On the first Holy Saturday, the 11 disciples were at a Wall (See Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, chapter. Read more.
Why pause for Ash Wednesday, the gateway to Lent which climaxes in Good Friday and Easter 40 days from today? The following are three simple reasons: 1. Encountering God. Abram once entered the deep, terrifying darkness and encountered God there (Gen. 15). Moses wasn’t looking for a burning bush on the day he was summoned (Ex. 3). Jacob was trying to sleep when he wound up headlocked by an angel (Gen. 32). Ash Wednesday is positioning ourselves for such an encounter. 2. Rhythm. In our 24-7, non-stop world, God invites us to a rhythm – in our days (Offices), weeks (Sabbaths), and years (the church calendar). Unlike the world which centers its calendar to the school year or vacations, we anchor our lives in the Incarnation (Christmas) and the Resurrection (Easter). 3. Mortality. This day reminds us of that we created, limited beings. “Dust you are and to dust you shall return.” We. Read more.