Eight months ago my family and I announced major transitions, leaving the staff at Sojourn Midtown to divide our time between The Upstream Collective and Refuge Louisville. We also joined Sojourn Jtown where I have been helping with international missions as a non-staff pastor. Most importantly, we welcomed home our second daughter, Charlotte Evangeline.
Although it has been one of those seasons in which our joys only faintly outpace our exhaustion, we haven’t been seeking change. In fact, we have been delighted to be part of producing great content at Upstream, helping churches embrace refugees at Refuge, and adding fertilizer to the rich missions soil at Sojourn Jtown. So what I’m about to make Facebook-official actually caught us quite off-guard. It very well may strike you the same way.
I’m excited to announce that later this month we will be transitioning to Antioch Church where I will be serving as their new staff pastor. Our first Sunday will be May 14th, and I will begin preaching on May 21st.
When I was first approached by Antioch in January, following the transition of their founding staff pastor, Todd Robertson, now Director of Missions at Louisville Regional Baptist Association, I was honored and humbled, but on the brink of refusing consideration outright. At that time, my family and I had just transitioned only four months before. Our heads had finally just finished spinning from all the changes. Plus, we had made sober commitments to three organizations (Upstream, Refuge, and Sojourn). Parting with them so suddenly struck at our strong sense of loyalty (which in our more human moments tends toward the immobilizing sin of people-pleasing).
However, we were quickly redirected through conversations with three friends and leaders: Lisle Drury (lead pastor at Sojourn Jtown), Larry McCrary (director of Upstream), and Jamaal Williams (lead pastor at Sojourn Midtown). The collective message we gleaned from them was, “Be open to what God might be doing.” With that in mind, we committed to taking only one slow step at a time.
The best way I can summarize the ensuing three-month process is this: “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). Just as I have experienced in other seasons of clear calling, it has been like a wave coming over me, catching me up in its currents. It is the exhilarating, terrifying sense of being drawn toward something much bigger than myself, which has long struck me as the essence of all calling: moving further into the mystery of knowing Christ (Matthew 14:22-33).
I have progressively laid down all my excuses, only to watch God clear the table over and over. It is fitting that I will bid farewell to Sojourn amidst a sermon series on Jonah—for if God can use a stubborn prophet in his grand mission, perhaps he can also use a hesitant young pastor.
May my dubiousness in no way reflect any sort of discontent toward Antioch. I have long been impressed with this unique church, which led me to write an Upstream article about them a few years ago. This is not to mention that two of our closest mentors (spanning back to my time overseas) are long-time Antioch members. Yet even beyond all this, our family had already aligned ourselves with the same mission as Antioch, rooting ourselves in the diverse south end of Louisville to “pursue intentional gospel relationships to display Christ’s glory among the nations”. We totally buy in to the multi-ethnic vision of Antioch, which already benefits from a beautiful Nepali expression, Asha Church.
What does that mean for Upstream, Refuge, and Sojourn? Thanks to the kind initiative of Antioch’s elders, part of my responsibilities will include writing, most of which will be through Upstream. As for Refuge, this will be my final week on staff, though I hope to help Antioch develop a deep, eternally significant partnership with Refuge. And regarding Sojourn, May 7th will be our final Sunday. Honestly, it will be a bittersweet day as we part with the church we have loved and given our lives to over the past six years (for me, nine years). Nevertheless, just as we said in parting at Sojourn Midtown, “we want to practice what we’ve preached to so many Sojourners who have responded to God’s call to go.”
We are tired, but we are so excited. Please pray for us as we step out of the boat—again.