After 23 years of pastoring without a break, I suddenly find that as of July 14 I am a pastor without a flock and I’m not sure what will be next. (Will I just be “mac”?)
In 1990, I started pastoring a church in Albuquerque called Mountain View Community Church (because we had a view of the mountains. Clever, huh?)
This is not actually the mountains we had a view of, but it’s pretty cool huh!
You can read the Hidden Life to see how that worked out.
In 1993 we merged Mountain View with our church plant in Rio Rancho called Rio West Community Church (because we were west of the Rio).
Although when I was there the logo looked like this
In 2008, after years of fruitful ministry, a group of brave pilgrims to whom I will always be grateful, joined me in planting a new church in Rio Rancho called Lifesong.
You can tell we were radical because we didn’t name ourselves after our location.
It’s a great name for a church, but truly, I wanted to call it “The Point” just so we could say goofy things like “What’s the point? Come find out!” and “Get to the point!” but wiser heads ultimately prevailed.
On July 14, 2013, Lifesong is closing its doors. (I wanted to do it with the members still inside, but my deacons said I have to let them out first) So as of that date I become a pastor without a church. As I told my congregants this morning and in a subsequent letter to those who missed this morning, I genuinely do not see this as any kind of failure. We set out to do something bold and and new and different, to create a more cohesive worship, bless people through service, and make disciples. We did all this. We close our doors not with shame but with confidence that we leave, not as victims or losers, but as graduates of an intense five year course on church planting and discipleship. We leave Lifesong, not to huddle in our homes, but to spread out and bring life to everyone we can touch.
Every ending in this life is about a beginning too. In a world where God declares that He has already prepared good works for us to walk in; in a world where order, plan, design and Hope are mainstays of the everlasting God, we know that every conclusion leads to a next. For me Mountain View lead to Rio West lead to Lifesong leads to ?? But for me each of the previous conclusions lead to a next I could see. You can probably tell by the question marks I have no real plans for next.
And so for me begins a new pilgrimage; a journey to discover what is next. Do I return to Rio West? Do I start over with a new church plant? (Hey I think I’ve got a good name in mind. One that won’t be “pointless” Get the point?) Maybe I’ll visit other churches for awhile to see what it looks like. Truly I don’t know. I know two things. I want to write more (Next book: Why formulas don’t work and what does/ subtitled, the world’s first Church shrink book) and I hate to travel alone, so I thought I’d invite you to join me on this pilgrimage here on this blog over the next year.
So every Sunday you are welcome to meet me here and I will share a little about where we’ve been and about where it looks like I might be going. Together we’ll visit some churches and challenge our convictions (at least I assume God will do that. He often does with me.) Maybe I’ll share with you some of the last five years too; unique stories of an amazing community and the six big ideas Lifesong was founded on. Who knows? Maybe they will work even better where you are.
So, count on it. Sunday’s here. I look forward to seeing what God’s got up His sleeve. Because that’s something else I know. He’s always got something, and it’s always good (even when it’s not so clear).
By the way, all former Lifesingers, current Lifesingers, and frankly anyone else, are invited to come to our last two services. Next week, at 10:00 at Cielo Azul, we’ll worship, have a very short sermon and then we’ll be inviting people to share what Lifesong has meant to them. Together we’ll glorify God by remembering His works to us and through us. I don’t care if you left us happy, sad, mad, or complaining, just as long as you come rejoicing.
So see you either here or there, or possibly both, next Sunday.