So I turned in my notice a couple weeks ago, working through my one-month notice at Morning Star.
I’ll be honest, some days I still wake up and can’t believe I actually did it. I’m terrified I’m leaving the best job I’ve ever had. The best co-workers, the best purpose, and the most life happiness I’ve had in any job I’ve ever worked.
But the door to this next opportunity swung wide, while my opportunities at Morning Star were dwindling by the season. I was one step away from being just the church IT guy again, and somehow that was making me happy, instead of being self aware enough to know that once it happened, I’d be heartbroken to be out of ministry again.
I look back, and I think of two things that ruined me for doing just IT at Mstar again-
1- Scott going on sabbatical- it highlighted how good things could be. What it could taste like to be a church that wanted to see the next generation come to know Jesus and grow closer to Him, starting from the basics. For an amazing couple of months, we talked about what we stood FOR instead of just who we stood AGAINST. I had this glimpse, this image of a church that I could invite my non-churched friends to, and know they’d hear the gospel, the truth, but in ways they could understand and resonate with. In a word, it was perfect.
Which only contrasted when Scott came back, how incredibly unhealthy it was. Over the first four messages of Scott once he returned, we took side moments to crap on non-binary people (not lead them to repentance, just a reminder that they’re wrong), we endorsed a political candidate from the stage during a sermon, and we preached a mothers day sermon that seemed to highlight that everything good about God was his male qualities. Not only that, but even looking beyond those things, we returned to a style of sermon that was once again head-knowledge over life change. And when I look back on my life so far, I’m not proud of the believer I’ve been when I live to be smarter than the other guy. I need to live a redeemed life, and want to be lead to do that. And once Scott returned, that was dead in the water. And again, the feeling was all the worse, because we’d seen what it could look like while he was gone. So the gap, the chasm was highlighted and stung even more than normal.
2- I got to taste ministry. That’s the second item that really accelerated my departure. I’ve been teaching for years- if you’re not all in, you’re not in at all. And I was content doing support staff- I loved serving those who were serving Jesus. Had I never gotten out of that, I think I could have been fine. I might have gone my whole life doing church IT and ended up like James Elgin- decades of service, knowing what I do inside and out, and content to do just that forever. Really, that’s what I thought was going to happen.
But then when covid hit, and I spoke too much about my passion for reaching people online, they tapped me to “lead” the online ministry.
Only problem, we didn’t really want an online ministry leader. We wanted someone to do the basics, emulate a few qualities of some healthy churches, and make a service online that reflected Morning Star.
I’d never considered that the goal of the online service. To me it was a given, once you knew the medium and who you tapped to lead it, the thing it would do would be what I was made to do- preach the basics, reach the lost and the newcomer, and bring the comfortable back to the basics of the faith we all need to spend more time in. That’s all I could have ever done well as I attempted to lead the ministry. I never contemplated creating a service that reflected Morning Star. I wanted only a service that pointed people to Jesus. I wanted a service that spoke to people without diplomacy, politics, and any other idols that had become strapped to the gospel. I wasn’t trying to make people better church-goers. I was trying to help them know and love Jesus and others. Sometimes that really easily tied in with the Morning Star vibe- like when Scott when on vacation. other times, I felt like the only proper thing I could do when opening a conversation was to repent for the sermon we just broadcast. To say that I was sorry that we spoke about people like that, and we apologize for the barriers we had put in front of the gospel. All I wanted to do was weep with the hurting, comfort them, and lead them to something better. Instead we piled onto their suffering.
I’ve often quoted someone smarter than me when I say that Jesus came and comforted the disturbed and disturb the comfortable. and our church seemed bent on doing the opposite! Sins common to Morning Star were handled with grace and diplomacy and tact and sensitivity. But sins common to outsiders were ridiculed, hyperbolized and demonized. Jesus reserved his harshest language for the religious elite, and his most welcoming kindness for those he ushered into his kingdom. But at Morning Star is was almost a given that we would do the opposite on a day in and day out basis.
So then when I got tapped to not just do IT, but lead a ministry, I thought that meant I’d have some sort of ability to do what conviction lead me to. I thought they were hiring the whole of who I was and who God made me to be.
I found out quickly, repetitively, and painfully that was not the case. When I expressed the most tactfully I could that a sermon series gave me a knee-jerk reaction of defensiveness, but prayed on air with others who likely shared the viewpoint that we could still learn from it, hear God’s truth in it, and grow from it- that got me a temporary ban from my duties for a couple months.
When I expressed at a summer camp that maybe not everyone saying black lives matter is a communist, and we should engage with the good in anything, while still rejecting the bad, I faced that when I got home.
So then it came to light in my mind- if I want to use the internet to reach people for Jesus, I can do that better not as staff at Morning Star. I am allowed to love people, push them to Jesus, but not to the current mythos of the US-VS-THEM christianity in America, and I can do that better if I’m not staff.
It’s a sad statement that to love the non believer, I can do so better apart from being in a vocational ministry. That the church has become a hinderance to itself. But tasting what doing ministry could be like ruined me for just doing church IT. Because at the end of the day, once I knew how much I loved the task I THOUGHT I was being asked to do, I knew that going back to being church IT means I would never have the freedom to just love people, share the gospel, and call out sin in the comfortable. I offered my resignation from ministry and leadership at Morning Star what felt like a year ago, and I think at the time, if that would have been taken, I might have been able to forget it, focus on the task in front of me, and find great joy in doing it.
But as I grew more and more in love with leading, more and more convicted that the church was failing in it’s duties- it became highlighted that I’d be complicit if I stayed, and more important, not free’d to follow convictions that the spirit created in me.
I dream of a church, here or anywhere, where I could be called to ministry again, but I also don’t know if that’s really an option for me. It’s possible that now I’ve burned my only opportunity to serve Jesus in that way, and if so, it’s going to break my heart.
But I’m not accountable for the whole road, just the next step. To live a holy life, I must live a holy minute, and let tomorrow worry about itself.
So I’ll take the door for a simple, secular job that seemed thrown at me, seems to want me in a role where I can go all-in. But I’m aware I’m trading a calling for a job. It breaks my heart for a thousand little reasons. But if I stay because it’s comfortable, easy, or fun, while ignoring that it’s killing me internally because I have to hope the spirit only convicts and pushes me in ways that Scott allows- then I’ve made Scott my god- if his arbitration of the word begins to be required to agree with, in liu of spirit filled prayer and study of scripture, then I’ve already lost my way. And I had to turn around, before I began to think this was normal or ok.
So God help me, save me, use me. How, I don’t even know anymore. I’m leaving broken, hurt, and needing wise voices to lead me- and when my wisest voices are silent, God help me to hear you above it all, and follow you where ever it leads, even if I don’t understand.