(The following letter was given to the congregation of Living Waters Church in Medford, Oregon, on Sunday, November 11, 2012, announcing a coming change in pastoral leadership that will take place in 2015.)
In the fall of 1998 Jan and I
were in Athens, Greece. Early one
morning the Lord awakened me and downloaded a word about our future, showing me
a twenty-year timeline. The first five years of the timeline revealed that Jan
and I would participate in building and rebuilding something. In the middle 10
years, we would see the reason why God had sent us to that assignment. During
the last 5 years of the timeline, which will begin in 2015, we would enter a
time of transition.
At that time, I thought the
timeline was for our next assignment in Europe. In 1999, through a set of
God-ordained steps, we found ourselves being offered the pastorate of this
wonderful church. From the very start we
have felt God’s hand upon this assignment.
One of the first things the
Lord said to me upon our arrival in Medford was, “Start giving this away.” From the start, I knew that in order to
give away ministry we would need to function as a team. While I am responsible
to lead the church, the pastoral team has always been released to function in
their unique and individual callings. God’s plan has been for all of us to come
alongside one another as a team, not to function in a top-down structure where
the man on top calls all the shots all of the time.
Twelve years ago, I brought
Ryan Rhoden on as a part-time Youth Pastor and a short while later he became
full-time. About eight years ago, Ryan
came to me with a wonderful vision to develop a school of ministry for young
men and women called Anthem. Since that time Anthem has become a vital part of
the life of Living Waters.
As I watched Ryan’s
leadership skills develop, and saw both Ryan and Kate’s integrity and passion
for God, their love for this church and the community, it became obvious God
was preparing and commissioning Ryan and Kate to someday lead Living
Waters. This year I released Ryan into a
new and increased assignment as Lead Pastor where he functions in an executive
role of leadership, handling the daily administrative tasks of the church.
Most church structures are
built vertically. In this kind of
structure change only happens when the leader on top either dies or falls off.
These situations can be crippling for the potential growth and life of a local church.
As we look at church history, all five gifts of Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist,
Pastor and Teacher, are needed to have a strong, healthy and functioning
We have prayerfully desired
to rely on God to direct us into the future, raising up and releasing a strong
and gifted team who will “equip the
saints” to do the same. We are on a
continuum of life expecting increase and change, a sign of transformation and
Two years from now, in
January of 2015, Ryan and Kate Rhoden will assume the Senior Pastor assignment
at Living Waters. At that time we will enter the last 5-year phase of our
ministry timeline. After Ryan assumes his new role, Jan and I will continue to
function as part of the pastoral team, but we will be released to do other
things that come at this stage of life and ministry.
Ryan and I have been talking
about this transition for the last 2 years.
Ryan once said, “I don’t want to do this without you.” I replied, “I don’t want to do this without
you, either.” All of us are being invited to enter this season together as a
church family, serving alongside each other with love and honor.
The end of the 20-year
timeline will come during my 69th year, 7 years from now. At that
time God could give us a new assignment.
Whatever that new assignment may be, this valley is our home and this
church is our family. It has been and will continue to be a joy and great honor
to be part of what God is doing in the life of Living Waters.