If you look at the left side of the blog, you'll see links to the web sites of several musicians. They all helped my former church by donating songs for us to use on an outreach CD we gave away to people. One of the best of the bunch is Matt Nightingale, who has a great voice. I still have his CD as one of my "regular listens." (Go buy a CD for yourself here!)(And no, I don't get a cut from CD sales.)
Anyway, Matt is leaving his position as worship leader at a church in northern California. I'm sure his people there will miss him. When I emailed him to wish him well, he said that he had never done anything so crazy as leave a position like this. But he felt God was calling him away.
It made me think about my life in the last year or so, since we left the pastorate of the church we started. It's been a rough year in so many ways. Pastoring, like a lot of jobs, really defines the people who hold that title. It becomes a part of their identity. So I did lose a piece of who I was when I left that job. And I wasn't interested in going to another church, so that part of me really died when I walked away.
A lot of my life is different now. We started a new business. We've been finding new ways to fellowship with other believers. We're finding new ways to relate to people outside the faith too.
My reasons for leaving our church are different, I'm sure, from the reasons Matt and his family are leaving. I became convinced that the way I was using my gifts in the body of Christ were not consistent with what I saw in the New Testament church. And I didn't like the tension within myself that resulted from doing something I didn't really believe in. So I left.
I do want to ask every believer who reads this blog to pray for Matt, his wife, and his kids (4 of them, I believe). It's gutsy to leave the security of the known. Pray that God will lead the Nightingales to the place where He wants them to land.
Matt, I've got no advice for you, except this: I've learned a couple of things over the last year. One, following God is the craziest, most dangerous thing you'll ever do. But it's totally worth it. Two, I don't think God is that concerned about where you go, or what you do when you get there. (Not that He won't lead you where He wants.) But what He really wants isn't your service, or your talents, or your fervent efforts for Him. He just wants you. He doesn't love you for what you can do; He loves you because you are His child, His little boy. And as long as you are with Him, it doesn't matter where you guys end up...