I don’t remember the exact date, but I remember I was sitting around a table with a group of guys I do life with. It was freezing in the poorly heated garage on a frigid Ohio winter night when Jason told me and three other guys that he was likely going to be moving to Florida to be a part of a church plant with his father-in-law. We talked for a while about how he felt called to do this, especially after the season of unrest he’s been in, and how it just made sense for him. I can clearly remember looking around the table at the time and wondering; “who of these people may potentially follow him?” I can remember even more clearly thinking to myself; “been there, done that… no interest in uprooting and leaving town again.” I decided right there, on the spot, that I wasn’t even going to bring it up with my wife because I honestly believed the chances of us leaving Toledo again were nil.
Nearly a month passed, and during this time nobody approached me to be a part of this church plant. All the people going were too classy for that, they knew they couldn’t poach people, but I found myself still slightly drawn to what I believed at the time to be an impossibility. On an eerily warm winter day, Ryanne and I decided to take advantage of the beautiful warm weather and take Becca to the park. As we chased our daughter through the playground, it came up in a casual conversation that in a couple years, she wouldn’t be able to hang out with her friend Maci (Jason’s daughter) anymore. Ryanne of course asked why, so I was then forced to tell her about the Florida plans. I remember that I could actually see Ryanne’s brain working. After a few minutes, she simply said, “Why don’t we move too?” After picking my jaw up off the mulched park ground, I asked if she was serious. That led us into about a twenty minute conversation where we decided that we’d definitely keep thinking and praying about it.
One of my many faults is lack of patience. So I took it upon myself that same day to text Jason and see what he thought about Ryanne and I being a part of the church plant as well. We understood the risks, knowing that we wouldn’t have a job with the church. We’d have to quit our very comfortable jobs we have now, move halfway across the country, find new jobs, a new place to live, and still have time to devote into helping to plant this new church. It was absolutely insane. But, I wanted to tell Jason and get his thoughts, and he seemed very eager to have us join in the fun. It wasn’t but a few days later I was sitting in a hole in the wall diner, hands wrapped around a hot cup of coffee, chatting with Mark (the soon to be lead pastor of this new church) about vision, what I could do to be a part of it, dreams, goals, and all the like. Ryanne I decided that day that we were in.
We wanted to be a part of this.
God doesn’t want me to be comfortable. I realized that while it wasn’t blindingly apparent, I’ve had an unrest on my heart for a while as well. So did Ryanne. I believe He has placed this unrest on our hearts to get us to step out of our “cushy” job and go help create something from nothing with eternal consequences. There is no shortage of people saying Ryanne and I are crazy. I wish I could argue with them. We are nuts. But to not go, well, I honestly believe we would end up in the belly of a whale right along with whatever Jonah left behind.
People have asked me “why?” It’s fairly simple really. I personally have three main reasons for wanting to jump off this cliff:
- Eternity Building. We want to be involved with building something from nothing that will have eternal consequences. I want to roll up our sleeves, get uncomfortable, and do something crazy.
- Community. For me especially, while Jason and I aren’t necessarily “best friends” he is definitely the closest friend I have, and I’m very close with the rest of the team that is interested in going. But even past that, is Ryanne and I just really love the idea of Becca growing up in that type of environment.
- Mark and the rest of the team. Mark has been a huge catalyst for Ryanne and I both ever since I first set foot in CedarCreek. Ryanne and I both wanted to be a part of the West Toledo Campus (where Mark is currently the lead pastor) launch to begin with, but it never worked out because of what I was doing already at CedarCreek. Now, we have an opportunity to step out on faith, and help start this thing. We’re super excited about the people who’ve already committed to going, and are looking forward to being in the trenches with this amazing group.
A move like this doesn’t come without collateral damage. I am deeply saddened to be leaving family, career(s) and friends already established here in Ohio. I could go on for a while about all the things I’ll miss. But like I said before, I can’t imagine NOT going now. I have the utmost faith in God and this unrest he’s placed on me and my families hearts for this move. I can’t explain how or why I know, but I am absolutely at peace about this… I know it will work out.
I am beyond appreciative of the support I have been given from CedarCreek in pursuit of this plant. There’s no pressure to move out of my office or anything like that. A transition is expected, and so far the support in not exactly knowing a specific end date has been very good. As I understand it, the expected launch date of the new church is likely to be sometime between Fall 2014 and Spring 2015.
I don’t know what my role in the new church will be. Honestly, I don’t care. I’m not going to do anything for myself. I’m going to serve, and do whatever I can to help make a difference in people’s lives through that church. I respect that fact that God has placed leaders in my life, and I will do whatever I can to support them. As for work, I honestly don’t care much. I mean, I’m not going to be seeking out fast food jobs, but I certainly wouldn’t mind making a return to slinging coffee. I’m also hoping to set up a new branch of Love is Greater Photography in whatever community we move to. Between photography and my role in 5th Corner Media, I am sincerely hoping Ryanne and I are able to make ends meet. All I can do between now and then is continue setting up my business in such a way to keep it sustainable here in Ohio when I’m gone, and praying that God helps me to navigate the path needed to make that happen.
Ryanne and I would appreciate your prayers, thoughts, and good juju during this time. Even more so, I’d appreciate your prayers for the entire team committed to, or just considering this move. Ryanne and I are freaks, and we feel almost completely at peace about this whole thing, so if you only have a small amount of prayer time available, please pray for the rest of the team first =). I don’t believe it will always be as calm as it has been thus far for us, and I do think it’ll be a roller coaster of emotions for a lot over people over the next several months. I think the path to church planting is paved with potholes and ups and downs… I just pray that God will continue to guide me, Ryanne, and the rest of the team down the right path.
Jonah taught me a valuable lesson. One I don’t mean to repeat. So, Florida, here we come!