Healthy Endings Book Blog 1: Why?
Why did I write this book?
When I was the Senior Pastor of Chamberlayne Baptist Church in Richmond, VA, the church experienced accelerated decline. What had been a slow process was exacerbated by several factors which I describe in the book, Healthy Endings: A Leader's Journey Through a Church Legacy Transition, available here.
When the pathway to closure became increasingly evident, I searched for resources that could help me lead these people through this horrific process. What I discovered was an overwhelming supply of helps that were all geared toward renewal, restoration, revival, or any other "re" word you can imagine. There was precious little to be found on how to help a congregation that simply was not going to make it.
I developed my own process.
In the waning days and times of this remarkable kingdom story, I was interviewed a few times about the process. A good friend, Dr. Steve Allsbrook, a retired Director of Missions who was helping the River City Faith Network in their own time of transition, was one of those interviewers. After describing the process to him, he asked a key question. "Where did you get the formula to help the church through this process?"
When I told him that this was a Holy Spirit led and made-up-as-I-went work, he insisted that I write this out. He told me how much churches needed to not just hear this story, but also that countless churches are going through potential legacy transitions. They need some form of practical guide for how to do this. He said, "Please write this..." so churches facing the most daunting circumstances can know how to navigate this terrain.
I took this as none other than a sign from God. God further compelled me to write this book through several other voices in my life at that time. As of this writing, the process of Chamberlayne's closure is nearing its two-year anniversary. Their season of ministry ended, and in the process, spawned a new work of God that is doing quite nicely today. God gets all of the credit for this, and it is my honor to tell the story.
It is a story that needs telling. Recently, I wrote these words in my personal journal,
This is a God-inspired work that I hope will help as many people as possible. It explores the pain of legacy conversations in churches. It shows how God can help them overcome their intense grief and take the steps God is laying out before them. It provides ideas and assistance to leaders who have the courage to carry a church to its finish line with dignity and grace. It is the story of God’s overpowering love and guidance to one soul brave enough to stick it out and lead God’s people on an incredible kingdom journey. It is a leader’s guide. It is a church’s legacy. It is a God story.
What God gave me the honor of witnessing was more than just faithful and gentle guidance through a treacherous journey. The exhibit of faith in this process by the folks of Chamberlayne Baptist Church and Bethlehem Baptist Church was extraordinary. Given the dynamics of this kingdom story plus God's clear calling, how could I not write it?