The other day Rod wrote a piece on his blog about Rachel Sensenig as our new pastor. What he neglected to talk about is himself. Rachel and Rod spent the past few months “teaming.” I used quotes because of a double entendre. In one sense, they had the unusual distinction of both being primarily assigned to our congregation at 1125 S Broad St. We normally have one full-time pastor at each congregation, even though our pastors are OUR pastors – the distinction is more about focus than limits. Teaming also describes a fullness of life – like creation in Genesis 1 & 2. The possibilities, potential, and time for change made for a rich season that we all have enjoyed.
Rod also has a “baby” job, in a way. Even though he has been doing development pastor work in Circle of Hope from the beginning, let’s not take the change we have perpetrated too lightly.
Rod is not the pastor stationed at 1125 S. Broad anymore. He and Gwen sat in the third row last week and people noticed – even commented on it. He is not going to be “up front” all the time, just some times and at other sites, too. He’s not going to be at all the meetings, helping all the leaders, or finding his way into places he needs to be like he used to. He does not have the wheel of the ship. He is not going to be the first person people on South Broad call after their cell leader, even though we’ll still be able to get to him when we need him. He is not gone, he is not retiring or semi-retiring now or in the near future. What a gift!
It is a big change for us, and let’s not forget it is a big change for him, too. Like he has repeatedly said, being pastor is great. God called him into a new role and we all have made that happen, but it comes with some losses as well as blessings.
I think we should get excited about what we have done. Usually the founding pastor dies in his position, like the pope. He finally disappears one day and people have to decide what life is like without him. It often causes such disruption that the church never recovers, fully. We did not do that and Rod did not want to. Instead he did something that you really need to pay attention to. He gave up what he loves and has known with us for two decades and took a role that is more about serving others behind the scenes than relating to everyone.
Don’t be dismayed, he’s still with us and still energizing our whole church, but on a smaller playing field with a lot less of the hand-on pastoring he loves so much. We are attempting to unleash him in a new role and assign him in ways that employ his unique gifts in our system to help us all develop. God has called him into more praying, more counseling, more systems work, more leadership development. And we are glad to pay him for 4/5 of a week to do it. 4/5 of Rod’s week is quite a bit, in case you have not been following him. It is not like he hasn’t always done those things, but it is not the same. We are better off for the change, even if some of us will think it is weird to see him in the third row for a while until we get used to it.