A few weeks ago I alluded to some other big changes coming up for us in addition to having a baby. It’s time for me to be more specific about what exactly is going on.

As you may or may not know, full-time, vocational ministry is something that Gretchen and I have both felt passionate about for quite some time. It was only a few months after I became a Christian in high-school that I committed to pursue a career in ministry, and Gretchen has felt that she has been called to some sort of missions since college. I’ve been working with a ministry of some kind or pursuing ministerial training since I was 16 years old, and we have been in ministry full time together since even before we were married. Both of our lives have revolved around ministry and church work for years.

That being said, we have recently decided to quit. As of August 1st (yesterday) I will no longer be employed by Grace Church. We will still be attending Grace, but as regular members. As you can imagine, a lot of factors go into any big decision like this one. For the sake of brevity I’ll only hit the high points.

One reason for this decision was our own emotional stability. The last two years have been tumultuous for us. We got married, we bought a house, we got pregnant unexpectedly, we lost the baby, we both changed jobs and then got pregnant again, all the while under significant financial strain as we tried to raise support. Those sort of things tend to build on one another and the resulting stress can be overwhelming at times. That stress has been slowly wearing on us both and little by little eroding our desire to serve others in the ministry. We’ve been aware of this erosion for some time, but it reached a fever pitch at the beginning of the summer when several situations came to a head simultaneously. With the birth of our son quickly approaching and our emotional health deteriorating (mine in particular) we decided a major change was in order.

Another factor that led to this decision was our spiritual well-being. If you’ve ever worked in the food service industry you are aware that seeing what goes on in the kitchen can cause a person to lose their appetite. After working for a sausage factory and seeing how sausage is made, you might not want to eat it anymore. I think the same could be said for ministry in certain circumstances. While many ministries might keep their kitchen’s clean and operate with integrity, many do not. We had some experiences working for ministries in the past that left a very bad taste in our mouths and ultimately led to us leaving altogether. Our experience at Grace Church was an excellent one and the people there were very kind and generous to us, some of the things we saw before that made a lasting impression on us both that we are still having a difficult time coming to terms with. I realize that no organization run by people will ever be perfect, but in this particular situation I have had a very hard time letting go and moving on. Rather than ignore what happened and risk becoming embittered about ministry we decided it was time to take a step back and change directions.

You might be thinking, “wow, thats really too much information, he should be more discreet”, but I’ve chosen my words here carefully. I’ve gotten many letters in the past from ministers and missionaries quitting their jobs with no more explanation than “God is leading us elsewhere”. Many of the folks who read this blog have been wonderful supporters of ours for years and I felt that you deserved more of an explanation than that. Also, I feel that transparency is a virtue. We have no need to hide anything and no desire to be anything less than completely honest. Why would we keep our deepest hurts hidden from the very people whose prayers and fellowship we need so much? If you have a question or are concerned about anything that I’ve said here, please contact me.

At the moment I don’t know what exactly we will be doing in the immediate future. I’ve been searching for a job since the beginning of June with no luck, and yesterday was the first day I’ve ever been unwillingly unemployed in my life. Evidently my sort of education and experience isn’t as desirable to secular employers as I would like. Our plan is still to have Gretchen stay home with the baby while I work, we just aren’t sure where I’ll be working at the moment. I have several job interviews this week however, and Lord willing will be gainfully employed by the time our baby is born.

If you think that quitting my job a week before our first child is born is a funny way to reduce the stress in our lives, I agree with you. I can tell you that, for whatever reason, it feels as though a heavy burden has been lifted from me. Considering that Christ describes his yoke as easy and his burden light, I think that our decision was the right one.