Brad Paisley sang “Welcome to the Future” on country radio. It was an appropriate sound track.
I remember feeling awkward, sitting up so high in the moving truck. It was a mild start to the day, barely dawn, the week before Father’s Day. It was 2011. There was no A/C in the truck, and by the time I hit the Arkansas state line my shirt was sticking to my back.
I was moving the contents of our little three bedroom house to Katy, Texas, where I had just been hired as the new student pastor at Current — A Christian Church. I crammed our possessions into a storage unit, flew back to Saint Louis, and made the drive again. The second time, mercifully, was in a climate-controlled minivan with my wife and kids.
It was June, 2011. I had been married 8.5 years. My daughter had just turned 6. My son was barely 3 and still not quite potty trained.
I was sick inside. 2010 and 2011 had been hard on us. This may come as a shocker to some of you, but church work is sometimes more like work than it is like church. We were ready for a new start.
The thing is, I didn’t know how sick I was until I got around some healthy people in our new church home in Katy, Texas at Current. For six years, those people nursed me back to health. My kids grew. My marriage grew.
Current was a church I found at a time when I wasn’t sure I wanted to work at a church any more. I was soured on senior pastors, cynical about the entire enterprise, and skeptical that the way I thought and felt and pastored could be embraced. I valued saying true things in a straightforward way. I craved collaboration. I desperately wanted to take risks, experiment, and do discipleship the way I saw it in the Scriptures.
The church I was leaving was large and buckling under the weight of mismanagement. I needed a fresh start. I needed to heal.
In the past six years, I’ve done more healing and growing than I can quantify. Current has grown, too. My first Sunday the attendance hovered somewhere around 600. It’s not uncommon for 1500+ to gather these days, and our staff has more than doubled as well. But the real story is in the stories, and I could tell several. A lot of them would make you laugh your head off. A few would make you cry. Most would make you want to show up some weekend, just to experience it for yourself — just to see what everyone was talking about.
Today, I walked out of Current for the last time as a staff member. I’ve made a vocational change, but fortunately it won’t require that we relocate, because I don’t want to leave these people. They’ve done too much for us. They’ve meant too much to us. It is impossible to describe it. It is impossible to adequately thank those people. I’ve done my best over the last month as we wound down our time here, but it falls short.
Sure, you spend six years someplace, you learn each other’s flaws and weaknesses. You see each other’s blind spots. You get annoyed. You argue. That definitely happened. But that happens in every family.
And Current has been family.
Thank you, Current: For giving us a chance. For welcoming us in. For considering us yours. For teaching my kids. For treating my wife not like the wife of a pastor, but like a human being. For helping me trust people again.
For being so stinking fun.
I was hired to move from Missouri and minister to you, but it is you who has ministered to me.
I’m so proud to have partnered with you in the past, and I’m looking forward to journeying with you still. Remember, we’re still on the same team, just playing different positions.
This morning on the way to church, I reminded my daughter that it was my last Sunday. She asked how I was feeling.
“Good,” I said, and she was surprised.
“Good? You’re glad you’re quitting?”
I explained to her that I wasn’t glad because I was quitting, but I was quitting because I had done what I had come to do, and the ministry was ready to be without me and keep growing.
“Oh…you’re satisfied…” she suggested a better word.
“Yes. That’s a good way to put it. I’m very satisfied.” And I am. Because I really did give it my best shot, and I’m proud of that.
Current, I leave so grateful for all you’ve given to me. Sincerely, and with a truckload of affection that dwarfs that mammoth moving truck I climbed into six years ago, I’ll say it one more time: