Mick’s Memo – Transition, Fear and Faith

I am reading from the final chapters of Deuteronomy right now and will soon start Joshua.  It documents the time of transition from 40 years of wondering in the wilderness under Moses’ leadership to the impending perils of warfare in the promised land under Joshua’s leadership.  God’s message (with slight variations) to the people first and then to Joshua is brief, clear and repetitious— ‘Don’t be afraid, be strong and courageous, I will be with you!’ (cf. Deut. 31:6,7,23; Josh. 1:6,7,9,18; 10:25). 

They had experienced transitions before with mixed results.  They had been children when Israel was released from slavery by God’s miraculous plagues in Egypt experiencing His power and deliverance firsthand.  But they had been on the doorstep of the promised land before and failed at the Desert of Paran (Numbers 13-14).  They listened and watched as their parents’ generation (with the exception of Joshua and Caleb) succumbed to fear and unbelief to be denied entrance and sentenced to a forty-year death march in the wilderness.  No wonder God put a message about conquering fear on “constant loop” before they faced the same circumstances that had overwhelmed the previous generation’s faith.

Life is full of transitions.  Transitions can leave us in shock, anxiety, fear and confusion; many of them arriving without notice.  Employees go to work and find out the company has been sold and employees will either need to move or seek employment elsewhere.  A business owner is informed that a valued and critically important employee will be leaving with only two weeks’ notice.  One couple discovers they are expecting a new addition to the family and another suffers the news that they are unable to have children.  A routine checkup reveals a life-threatening condition. An aging parent falls and will no longer be able to live on their own. Even when there are expected, transitions are unsettling. When we confront them we can easily wonder—“Who’s in control?  What next?  How do we move on from here?”

About 2 years ago, after reading a couple books, looking at my birth certificate and the strange wrinkled man in my mirror, I was confronted with the reality of transition.  I realized that the number of years I had already served as Pastor at CrossRoads were many more than I would in the future.  I asked the elders to read the same books and to help me help Crossroads navigate the transition to new leadership at the right time and in the right way.  The elders and I have been seeking the Lord’s will for this transition since then, with some preliminary help from consultants at The Center last year with a church health survey and now enlisting their support in developing a time-phased succession plan and search process.

At present our succession timeline involves hiring an Associate Pastor in the next year who we expect to be the Senior Pastor at the end of 2023.  He would have assigned responsibilities that will both acquaint him with the congregation and our volunteer leaders and provide opportunities to preach, perform weddings, etc.  Closer to the time of my departure, the plan is to create and hire a second associate pastor who continues in that capacity after the first Associate becomes Sr. Pastor.

The Center will be helping us define the ministry responsibilities for new hires and providing search assistance for the first hire.  We will have meetings with you as progress is made along the way.

The passages from Deuteronomy and Joshua have been very encouraging to me and I hope to you. Nothing of much value comes easily and I believe the future of CrossRoads is of great value.  Post-CrossRoads life has many unanswered questions for me personally.  I must remind myself that this is about faith.  For me and for CrossRoads, I take great comfort in the message God gave to calm the fears of Israel… The Lord is indeed going before you—he will be with you; he will not fail you or abandon you. Do not be afraid or discouraged!” Deut. 31:8 (NET) He goes before us in the sense that God has a plan for this transition that predates our lives and He is more than capable of carrying out the plan.  CrossRoads’ redemptive potential is not tied to any one person or even persons. It is tied to us walking with the Lord and relying on Him for direction and empowerment.

If you have concerns or questions please feel free to contact me.

We will continue our study in 1 Corinthians 12 this weekend from the series “Interdependence or Bust”.  We will also launch our 3-week Welcome Home experience during the 10:30am service in the Community Center.  If you’re considering making CrossRoads your church home or just want to better understand our ministry strategy, this is the next best step.

Looking forward to seeing you this weekend!