So you may have heard … we’re moving to Northern California.
Some of you may have questions about this—whether you’re here in Indiana, there in NorCal, or just our friends and family all over the place. Here are a few of our most frequently asked questions.
What will we be doing?
I will be the Director of Missional Development for the Northern California District of the Church of the Nazarene. I will help train, resource, and empower churches on the Northern California District to enhance their missional impact through (1) cultivating missional discipleship, (2) planting churches and missional communities, (3) recruiting missionally innovative pastors, lay leaders, and interns, and (4) fostering innovation in strategy and methods. I’ll spend a lot of time investing in the leaders of NorCal and connecting them with the resources they need to thrive.
I will also continue my PhD in Organizational Leadership at Eastern University (near Philadelphia, PA). I will fly out for classes for a few days three times a year (January, May, and September). For the next two semesters, I will slow down to only half a load (one class). My research focus on cultivating safe space for pastors to grow in a supportive and nurturing environment will match well with my role on the district. Some research already shows that safe space contributes greatly to personal growth and and organizational innovation.
For the first year, Sarah will just help our family make the transition. After that, she’ll probably work part-time and help me with my research and district work.
Where will we live?
We won’t have to house-hunt. Hercules Hilltop Church of the Nazarene closed down about ten years ago. The district kept the parsonage as a rental property, and it will work great for our family now.
Hercules is a small suburb (25,000 people), in a long row of suburbs on the east side of the San Pablo Bay. It’s about 45 minutes northeast of San Francisco and north of Oakland. Even though this a densely populated area, the closest Nazarene church is 30 minutes away in Concord. Sometime in the next three years, my family will probably be part of the core for a church plant somewhere near Hercules. I’ll help guide the process, but I don’t expect to be the pastor.
When will we go?
Our last Sunday at Duneland Community Church (Chesterton, IN) will be October 1. Our family and our stuff will leave October 2. Our house in Chesterton will go on the market this week. We’re not eager to leave DCC, but we felt like it would be better for both our church and our new district to go ahead and make the transition now that the decision has been made.
How do Sarah and the kids feel about this?
We’re all both happy and sad. We’ve really enjoyed life in Chesterton. We love our church, our community, our neighborhood, and our schools. We’re really going to miss this place and these people. Of course, the kids are nervous about making new friends in the new schools. But, we’re also excited to live near Sarah’s sister and her family, and we’re excited to engage the diversity of the Bay Area. Also, Sarah is unreasonably excited about avoiding snow!
How did we come to this decision?
This has been a long, slow process of discernment. We first visited Northern California on nearly five years ago our way from South Korea to Chesterton, where Sarah’s sister and brother-in-law pastor Napa’s Living Vine Church of the Nazarene. Since then, we’ve been out to visit a few times as a family, and the NorCal district or local churches have invited me out to speak or to consult four times. We’ve slowly fallen in love with the NorCal area.
In South Korea, we were blessed to be part of a deeply multicultural church with people from all over the world, and although we have thoroughly enjoyed life in Chesterton, we’ve missed that diversity. We’re excited that Hercules has large populations of Asian-Americans, African-Americans, Latinos, and Pacific Islanders. Also, we’re thrilled that 50% of NorCal churches speak a dizzying array languages. That’s going to be lots of fun, and I’ll have plenty of opportunities to brush off my (very rusty) Korean and Spanish skills.
Also, on a systemic/strategic level, Northern California is deeply post-Christian, and this trend is quickly moving inland from the west and east coasts. With Albert Hung as the new District Superintendent, with a strong cohort of creative young pastors, and with churches open to change, NorCal is powerfully positioned to be a hub of innovation for the whole denomination. If we can help figure out how to be the missional church faithfully and effectively in NorCal, then we can help churches in other parts of the US innovate faithfully over the coming decades. My life-calling is to help the Church of the Nazarene adapt faithfully in the 21st century, and this seems to be the perfect landing spot to do that.
What will Duneland Community Church do next?
The short answer is — more of the same! The next few years are going to be the most exciting years in the history of DCC. We’ve spent 8 years preparing the foundation for the fantastic missional work that is just now starting to happen in earnest. I think we’ll all be amazed at all the good God does through DCC in this next season.
Clearly, DCC is going through a season of change. Pastor Greg just got back from a three month sabbatical, and the board is in the process of establishing our 3-5 year plans. Also, Pastor Katie is getting married this weekend. You’ll also see some new logos and visioning graphics rolling out soon. All of that means that we won’t make any staffing decisions for a while. The church board and other leaders will go through a process of discernment for a few months to get more clarity on where God is leading us and what kind of staff matrix will be the best fit to help us get there.
What are my qualifications for this job?
OK, maybe you didn’t ask that one out loud. But some of you were surely thinking it. Let me share a few bits of my history that have put me on this trajectory.
We’ve already talked about my experience with multicultural community in Korea. One of my goals will be to help our co-habitating churches become more of a family instead of renters or roommates passing in the night.
- While it’s true that I haven’t “planted” a church, my first pastorate was a “Church Type Mission” in South Korea. Over the course of nine years, we guided that church through the process of officially organizing as a Church of the Nazarene and helped it grow from about 30 to about 130 people. That experience will be vital as we support church planters in NorCal.
- At Duneland Community Church in Chesterton, IN, we have very intentionally engaged the process of reinventing the missional church from the ground up. We have been in a long-term mentoring process with a missional discipleship coaching organization (3D Movements) (link). This process has led our church into deep discipleship and leadership development, which has resulted in lay-led ministries fighting human trafficking globally, throwing parties for strippers, serving single moms, and establishing a missional community in a mobile home community, and really we’re just getting started. San Francisco has a 3DM hub, and I’m stoked to help NorCal pastors and churches plug in with this fantastic organization.
- I cowrote (together with Jesse Middendorf, Megan Pardue, and Greg Arthur) Edison Churches: Experiments in Innovation and Failure, due out this fall with The Foundry Press. We profiled 10 innovative churches (including Albert and Christine Hung’s church in the San Gabriel Valley and Sunnyvale Church) who are taking risks and experimenting and failing and succeeding toward new and beautifully effective models of doing church in our rapidly changing context. Albert and I want NorCal to be an “Edison district,” cultivating innovation in churches all over NorCal and dreaming up new ways to run the district more effectively.
- As I work on a PhD in Organizational Leadership at the deeply missional Eastern University, I’ll get the chance to put those ideas into practice as we lead the NorCal organizational systems.
How can you help?
- In Indiana: We will need help with packing (especially in the last week of September) and with loading the truck (especially September 30). We will have a U-Pack truck, so loading and unloading are our responsibility.
- In NorCal: We will fly in late October 2. We will probably need help with painting and cleaning on October 3-5. The truck will probably arrive between October 7-9, so we’ll need help unloading it when it arrives. We’ll share more info about all of this as we have it.
- Elsewhere: Please pray for our family as we transition, especially for our kids as they begin new schools. Pray especially that our youngest will be able to go to the elementary school just down the hill from us. (Currently, the school is saying that their classes are full and that he will have to be bussed to another school.)
So if you’ve tracked with me this long, you probably deserve a persevering reader award. I hope this helps you understand what’s going on in and around this move whether you’re in Indiana (and we’re going to miss you), in NorCal (and we’re coming your way), or elsewhere (and you’re cheering, jeering, or watching from afar).
Thanks for your prayers, encouragement, and support, and please keep them coming.