Today I went through the intentional process of making subtle changes on social media and on my blog. These changes seemed so easy to make.
I logged into Facebook, Twitter, About.me, Google+, LinkeIn and changed my location to St. Charles IL.
I added a new occupation “Church Planting Intern.”
Then I went to the about page of my blog and added the text, “I am currently the Church Planting Intern at Redeemer Fellowship in St. Charles IL under the coaching of Pastor Joe Thorn. God willing I will be planting a gospel-centered church in the next couple of years in the Chicagoland area.”
All of these were very small and easy changes to make on social media. But they have been huge changes to navigate as a family.
Relocating your life from one area of the country to another is no easy change. For our family it involved a 14 hour drive and two weeks of utter chaos. It was very taxing: physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Hence why this blog has been silent for a week.
The larger your family is the more difficult it is to navigate relocation. When we moved from Dallas to Tulsa, it was just Kendall and I and our one year old daughter Chloe. This time moving to Chicagoland there were five of us altogether. Chloe is now almost five, and we have two more in our troop: Asher, who is two, and Adalie, four months.
In order to navigate a ministry relocation, you need a healthy support network.This included three essential relationships: family, both nuclear and extended, church family, both former and present, and the Lord.
For this relocation, we sold our home, a car, and a bunch of furniture. Because we will be church planting, my wife had to be fully on board with living in temporary living for a year or two, while we discern where we are called to plant in the Chicagoland area. My children also had to be on board with leaving behind their friends.
Here are two quotes from the most important people speaking into my life during this transition.
Kendall (my wife): “You are my husband. If God is calling you to plant in the midwest, I am following you. You are the head of our home. I love you!”
Chloe (my eldest daughter – 5 yrs old): “Dad, I’m going to be a missionary too. I’ll teach my new friends the gospel…and how to be nice to each other.”
Of course, extended family will often be slower to come around to the idea. After all, Chicago is the opposite direction both ordinal and climate from Dallas, where all of our extended family are located. However, I felt a sense of peace when my mother called to express her support as I was driving on I-44 in a moving truck toward Chicago on Tuesday October 1st — the beginning of our 14 hour trip to relocate to a new land.
There is nothing more reassuring than having your family in full support of you and your ministry relocation. If they are not with you, you may not have clarity in your calling. Make sure to have a number of conversations and process the concept of relocation for some time before relocating. We went through a 6 month process preparing our minds and hearts for what was next.
2. Church Family
Not an hour before writing this post I was on the phone with my former covering, the Lead Pastor of our church in Tulsa and my former leader in pastoral ministry. We caught up on the status of our relocation. This was no business conversation. It was a dialogue of mutual admiration for each other and our call to ministry. It was an exchange of prayer requests of earnest need and honest vulnerability of the fears and the unknowns.
This is one of many conversations that I’ve had since hitting the ground on our new ministry location. Phone calls, texts, mass e-mail have all been sent to let people know the ups and downs of our relocation. Knowing that our church family at Fellowship Bible Church Tulsa is praying for us and desire to support us is critical.
Yet, there is also our new church family, Redeemer Fellowship in St. Charles. This church has gone beyond all expectations to help us feel at ease with our relocation.
As soon as we got into town Pastor Joe Thorn and his wife hosted us for dinner. My Chloe made a new best friend with their Madeline. Pastor Brian Malcolm invited our family over for dinner and a movie night for the kids, knowing that our furniture and TV would not be here until our POD arrives next week. Pastor Pat Aldridge invited us over to the house and took me out to lunch.
New, thriving, and deep friendships are already being fostered with gospel-centered men as I’ve met many of the men of the church and interacted with the elders of Redeemer Fellowship.
Submitting to your covering is imperative. Sometimes the barriers in having your covering’s support has to do with communication.
Had I not communicated our relocation plan intentionally with my covering in Tulsa, they would have been skeptical of my plans. Yet, with patient and intentional communication, they were able to pray and rally around us in support. Fellowship Bible Church Tulsa was able to love us well in our going.
This required clear communication on the front end of relocating and the back-end. Everyone not only want to know what you will do but how it all went. Likewise, you need to be able to have people who already know you well to listen and speak truth into your life as you navigate the change.
Likewise, clear communication to your new covering is also extremely helpful. Doing so will help them arrange for your needs.
When we arrived, two families were ready to host us for four days while we looked for an apartment. Lunch, dinner, and coffee meetings were scheduled ahead of time and in anticipation of our arrival. It made for an excellent start for our life in St. Charles. Redeemer Fellowship was able to love us well in our coming.
3. The Lord
Ministry relocation gets busy. In all the bustle of packing and moving, don’t forget to bring your relationship with Christ to your new location.
It seems odd to say that, especially since you are relocating for the sake of ministry. But here’s the deal. You’ll feel like the most urgent thing you can do is unpack all the boxes, get new licenses, doctors, banks, and home decor.
But the most urgent thing for you to do when relocating for ministry is to engage in the spiritual disciplines. Then do those other things. They will still be there after you’ve spent time with the Lord.
Kendall and I already wish we had done this better. We’re not going to be settled in Chicago until our unsettled feelings pass. But those unsettled feelings do not come from the chaos of unpacking and developing new routines in a new environment. Those unsettled feelings are stirrings in our soul to be close to Jesus.
Order and routine are good, especially with small children. But they are no replacement for the peace of the Lord. Only He dispenses a sufficient peace to handle a ministry relocation.
Turn to scripture and pray often as you navigate your ministry relocation. Engage in family worship — even in the midst of unpacked boxes and piling up laundry.
In our situation our POD with our furniture still has another couple of days before it arrives. So our kitchen table is our kitchen linoleum floor. It is also the place where we give thanks to the Lord for taking us thus far.
Don’t let the chaos around you thwart sweet times of religion with your family. Your soul needs this worship and so does your family. Family worship during times like this anchor you to your vision — God! Hold fast to Him and His Word. Neither will fail.
1Kings 8:56 “Blessed be the LORD who has given rest to his people Israel, according to all that he promised. Not one word has failed of all his good promise, which he spoke by Moses his servant.