A Well Deserved Break [5/28/18]
Jeff Lynch was our preacher this morning. Jeff is one of three original elders at Grace Sacramento and will be stepping down from “active duty” at the end of this month.
What does that mean?
We are not saying goodbye to Jeff. He and Karen are core members at Grace Sac and will continue to worship, serve and lead. Grace Sacramento will continue to consider him an elder and look to him for wisdom and shepherding care, although in a less formal way. Jeff will begin a 2 year sabbatical from actively attending our session (elder meetings) and will no longer have a decision making vote in the matters discussed there. He may be called upon for ceremonial duty from time to time and we will invite him to consider returning to active leadership on the session after two years have passed.
I will miss him in the room. Jeff’s passion for the word of God, commitment to truth telling and pastoral encouragement are some of things that have shaped the godly culture of leadership that we enjoy at Grace and on our elder board. I often receive an encouraging text from Jeff after a sermon or a follow-up call when a meeting or topic has been particularly challenging.
This is a big moment for Grace Sacramento. It is a mark that we are maturing and that we have arrived at the need for a leadership change. We will be looking for elder nominations from the congregation over the weeks to come. Jeff, along with the others who currently serve on our session have sought to be examples of the kind of leader described in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. Please begin to pray and consider who you see that is already leading, serving and shepherding among us that God might be calling to fill this role. I’d love to hear about it.
Jeff and I spent just a few moments this week reflecting back together over the past 4 years and looking forward to what God might do through Grace in the days ahead. Here are some of the highlights of our conversation:
BC: What is one thing that you are most excited about accomplishing together in the last 4 years?
JL: The thing that comes to mind immediately, although I played a very small role in it, is the successful merger of our two churches together (Living Grace and City of Grace). I find a lot of joy in that. I can honestly say that when that was happening last summer, I never once had a discussion with anyone that wasn’t “all in.” I’m sure there were challenges for all of us, but I just thought it was beautiful. It has been a wonderful journey.
BC: Do you have a favorite memory with the other elders at Grace?
JL: Serving alongside of you and Daniel and Mike and Mark and Randy. I feel that our session is really healthy and I think it is a good thing for our congregation to know that we have had some fairly intense disagreements at times. I think that that is a really healthy thing. The church I came from prior to Grace had just one dynamic pastor who made all the decisions ( it's a fairly common model), but I think there is a lot of health in having multiple people with various views and the Spirit of God seems to work through that in a beautiful way.
My favorite memory is probably, three years ago, the retreat we did at our cabin. That was just a sweet time. Because rather than just “Hey we’ve got three hours and we’ve got to get on it because we’ve got things to talk about”...we were all able to slow down and get to know each other. I’ve also always had a really precious memory of David George. He called in during that retreat and basically we had a counseling, mentoring session with David over the phone while he was driving to teach a class or something.
BC: He sort of gave us a 45 minute “If I was starting a session again this is what I would do".
JL: He really encouraged us to care for you and to keep asking you how you were doing. And I have had a burden for that since then, thanks to David. He was one of the instruments that God used to remind me that we may all have an equal vote on the session but you and Daniel have way more skin in the game then I ever will. That was such an eye opening and fruitful time.
BC: Thank you for how you have cared for me.
BC: How have you seen God grow and challenge you during your time as an elder?
JL: It's been a big time of growth for me. Serving on the session requires a lot of you. It stretches your heart. I guess in some small way I’ve been able to come alongside some others and encourage them and walk with them through some hard times and that has been a good thing.
The biggest stretch for me is that he has been stretching my heart, in the area of compassion. I tend to be analytical, I tend to be drawn to books and I’m not always as aware as I should be of challenges and pain of the people around me. And God has used my time on the session to certainly stretch me in a big way. And make my heart more like Christ’s. Sometimes it's been a burden that he has laid on my heart for a particular person and I have reached out. But more than once its been God dropping someone in pain right in my path and just coming alongside of them, trying to encourage them, pray with them and help.
BC: You may be inclined naturally to be more studious but I want you to know that I haven’t observed a lack of willingness or courage on your part to step into difficult situations with people. I can see God working in you.
BC: If you could leave one piece of advice for future elders what would it be?
JL: Keep the word of God in the forefront. Open your heart up to God’s compassion towards the congregation and those who are hurting. And continue as always to begin each session meeting with time in the word and prayer for the congregation. It's so easy, when we’ve got a lot of business to do to push that aside. And you never have.
BC: What kind of things are you excited to focus on with “all” the extra time you will have now?
JL: First off, I'm hoping to spend more time with my wife, Karen, caring for her needs and just being together. She's the love of my life. There are also two other things in particular I want to focus on. The least of which is a renewed focus to my school work. I’m pursuing a degree in Biblical studies and I lost a lot of time in 2017 because of some personal medical challenges that came up in my life. But more importantly, my oldest daughter Hannah and her husband Mark are in the process of moving back to Sacramento this year. Mark is actually living with us right now. By mid-July we will be welcoming Mark and his father and his German Shepherd, Truman into our house. This is all part of their transitioning from Fullerton where my daughter has been in optometry school. There’s also rumors that there may be grandkids in the plans for the next year or two so I’m really excited about that! I really want to focus on my passion to study God’s word and just family time. I want to free up more of my time and my heart’s emotional energy to spend it with them.
BC: What charge or encouragement do you want to give to Grace Sacramento as you leave you time as an active elder?
JL: I would encourage everyone to remember that when we come together as a family of believers to worship God it shouldn’t be looked at as a once a week box that we check off. We don’t just "Do Church" on Sunday. But that is just the most intensive meeting of a family unit that should be engaged with one another seven days a week. Don’t compartmentalize.