Stepping Aside, but not Out

This pastoral passage was written for LRBC for February 23 2020, as I formally finished in my role as the youth pastor of LRBC.

I would like to take the chance to thank all of you in the LRBC church family for supporting and encouraging me over the years of my tenure as youth pastor. In some ways, a youth pastorate is one of the easiest jobs in the world. In other ways, it is one of the hardest. But the encouragement, support, assistance and prayers that many of you have offered over these years have been a true blessing. It has helped me to stick at it as long as I have, and I think that has been important for getting our youth ministry to where it is today. Please extend the same encouragement, support, assistance and prayers for Jake and for Gabby throughout the coming years. Help them last the long haul.

Thinking back over my time, I think a consistent theme has emerged in my ministry to our young people. This is the warning and preparing for what I believe are the twin and largest challenges to Christian faith in New Zealand. One is the intellectual challenge of our secular culture, in the varied ideological outworkings of humanist thought. The other is more practical and less obvious – the ‘secularity’ (we could say the ‘religionlessness’) of our full and affluent lives. In a culture that squeezes religion out to the sidelines of relevance, we must watch that the all-absorbing nature of life’s cares and ambitions does not erode our love for the Lord nor our faithfulness to his service. Christian love and service is costly, but gladly offered.

I hope the message has sunk in. In five, ten and twenty years time we shall see, as our youth become wives and husbands and parents and workers and leaders in their own right. Time and eternity will show. In the meantime, I am hoping to complete a doctorate in the history of biblical interpretation. While I do this I will continue to press this twin theme. Some of my LRBC ministry will continue. I’m also aiming to direct my writing ministry in a new direction (watch this space), and exploring a new ministry possibility to work at on the side. This current time of transition brings mixed feelings of sadness for moving on, as well as some apprehension, but definite excitement for moving ahead.

I’ve stepped aside in ministry, but not out. Thank you all again for all your support.