If you have not heard, the big news for the Kirkpatrick family is that my role as Worship Pastor at Sunridge Community Church has ended this past week. It has been three years, minus a month. I am going to miss the people I invested three years of my life into. It is obviously a calling for me, not just employment. This sudden parting for me puts my family in a position that many other church staff people face. It’s what I call a “triple whammy”.
The hardest part was sitting around our kitchen table last Thursday and looking both my kids in the eye to deliver the news. Tears were shed. Big tears. “Dad, I’m confused” was my son’s response. My girl said that she does not want to lose another youth group. We prayed, hugged and all agreed that even though we don’t know the next leg on this journey that we are in this together. That is what families do.
I got to tell my kids and wife how proud I am of them. Ministry is a family business. Each weekend my wife helps with the tech in the production booth while my son is her apprentice. My daughter often leads in singing and worship with me and has become a godly young woman who is impacting others. At home and with people we truly do this ministry thing…together.
The first hit of the ministry transition “triple whammy” is losing your job–the second is losing your home church. Things cannot remain the same when it does not work out for a leader who leaves the employment of a church. That is just the facts. The third hit is the possibility of losing not just place of worship but friends, home and town if we relocate.
I think God is putting three paths before us that I asked my wife and kids to bring before God with me. The first is that God somehow might provide employment for me locally so that we could remain in our town and community. The second is a relocation, but if right could be an amazing move for all of us. The third was a huge “?” which means we have to be open to something we cannot even see yet.
I encouraged my kids, age 12 and 16, to be free to feel what they feel and to pray as their hearts desire. We are in this together and their prayers and thoughts are going to play a big part of how the next steps of the journey are made. Just like our recent family vacation, they know their input matters. God can give them something they desire on this journey better than their parent’s attempted to do with our family road trip such as video games for my boy and seeing a friend for my girl.
So to my family and friends, please pray with us for both our practical physical needs but also the emotional and spiritual side, too. Many have sent notes and calls and all have been an encouragement. Words do matter. We need to do this together with you and your prayers and help are all part of the adventure we now embark.
I am going to leave you with a verse my daughter shared on her Facebook which I remember my mother sharing with me during some trials growing up:
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” JEREMIAH 29:11