I am writing to tell you that I will be transitioning out of my role as Lead Pastor at Renovation Church. My last Sunday will be June 26, 2022.
The hardest part is what to write next. I suppose it depends on what questions you might ask. If you’re still reading, I’ll use this space to predict your questions. However, if there are more questions to be posed, by all means, ask me. You don’t have to ask other people. You definitely don’t have to ask my kids. Ask me — I’m fairly approachable — as long as I’m not super hungry. Perhaps you can bring almonds.
**Why Are You Leaving Renovation?**
That’s a great question. Let me start by telling you why I’m not leaving. I’m not leaving to get away from anything, or because I’m desperate to hit the eject button. It’s certainly not because I don’t like my job or my people. In fact, I love what I get to do, and I love my people. I deeply enjoy what I get to do as a pastor… even in dealing with the hard stuff. I’m not leaving because I found something better (more on that later). I’m not leaving because I have concerns about my faith in Christ, the role of the church, or my theological views. I’m confident and firm as a God fearing, Christ following, Spirit seeking guy. I love Jesus and I love the church — especially Renovation.
Why leave? And why now? In classic pastor/preacher mode, I’m going to give you a three point message. There may or may not be an altar call at the end.
— First, I’ve have had the sense for several years that I’d be transitioning out of this role around the time my daughter Lexi became an adult. As the father of a kid with special needs, many elements of my life and our family orbit around Lexi, which is something I wouldn’t trade for anything. However, her life is about to change, and, with those changes come new opportunities, new service options, and a new chapter for her life and therefore ours. It’s strange to think that my little girl, who, in many ways, will always be a little girl, is going to be old enough to vote, buy cigarettes, and drink in Canada. Don’t worry, she probably won’t do any of those things.
Now that she’s entering adulthood, Lexi needs her dad (me) in a different way now. The “normal path” (college, relationship, career) isn’t gonna happen for her. I will always have the responsibility to care for Lexi through housing, medical care, and financial support. This is a situation for the long haul. Sure, I could keep getting side jobs and generate extra income, but, as it stands now, I won’t ever be able to provide what she truly needs both now and over the span of her life. Planning for Lexi long term has to become priority, at least for a while.
— Second, My job as a father is to make sure that my kids have exactly what they need, especially given what we’ve endured over the last nearly 10 years (more on that later, too). As it turns out, we’ve missed out on quite a bit. I owe it to my two sons to find a way to make the most of these last few years together before they, too, become adults. I’ve got my work cut out for me as a dad, which includes a long list of wonderful experiences that my sons have not had because of our years-long family dynamic. While I would love to keep on keeping on at Renovation as is, the truth is that they need me to be dad in a different way than I’ve been able to be. Pastoral ministry is wonderful but demanding, even at a great church like Renovation. Soon, I will have some freedom to lean into a new job (more on that later) and to make the most of our limited time together in this era of their lives.
Everybody told me that kids grow up so fast. I didn’t believe it when they were spitting up on my shoulder and growing sharp teeth. I believe it now, as my 16 year old son is almost as big as me. It’s a little intimidating. Time is short and moves too fast.
— Third, I had a very unexpected thing happen last year. I met someone (Brittany) and found myself not only in love but ready to roll into something I wasn’t even looking for. Neither of us were. Yet, by God’s grace, we found each other and are on the way to matrimony. In other words, I’m thrilled to tell you that Britt and I are getting married! I don’t know if you’re aware, but I had to file for divorce a few years ago. While I encounter a myriad of bizarre opinions and judgements from people, mostly out of ignorance, I’m grateful that most of the people in my world have been gracious and understanding. Sure, some people just don’t get it. For example, someone from the church recently asked one of my sons “How’s your mom doing?” I’ll assume he doesn’t know that she hasn’t been part of their lives for 2 years, by their choosing. It leads to a number of awkward situations that unfortunately come with the territory of being a pastors kid, especially when the whole thing unfolded before the eyes of the congregation, albeit without much detail being spelled out.
What’s more awkward than getting a divorce while you’re a pastor? Remarrying while you’re a pastor. Why is this awkward? Two reasons: it asks a LOT for a congregation to endure the kind of things that have happened to my family, and divorce probably tops the list. Every Christian knows that Jesus hates divorce (believe me, I’ve heard that one a few times lately). Not every Christian knows that there are fitting reasons to get divorced, sad as they may be.
Now, on to the good news. Let me take a moment to tell you about Brittany.
**What’s The Story With You and Brittany?**
We’re deeply in love and committed to spend the rest of our lives together, our families and households merged into a sprawling, chaotic, and wonderful new era for all of us. I can’t put to words how much I love her, how made for each other we are, and how excited I am about the future. God’s fingerprints of redemption are all over this story of ours. I know the suffering we’ve both experienced that led to so much loss was not God’s design. But here we are, experiencing what Ephesians 3:20-21 talk about (look it up — good stuff).
If you’re interested in how we ended up together, you can read our story here: https://www.theknot.com/us/adam-davidson-and-brittany-weldon-jun-2022/our-story
**Are You Leaving Ministry Because_________?**
I know an announcement like this can fire up all kinds of assumptions and rumors. Let me assure you that I’m not being pressured to leave, I’m not being “let go”, and that this isn’t because of a moral failure. As far as I know, most everyone from the congregation to the church staff and the Southern Michigan Conference wants me to stick around, which I appreciate. This is nothing more than strange timing where a multitude of roads converge to a single point. I sense God’s leading in the whole thing.
You might think I’m leaving because I’m getting married. As you could understand, Brittany is afraid that people will think that she took me away. She hasn’t. As I mentioned above, this has been in the works for years, and now it all makes sense.
I should also point out that, while I won’t be in full time ministry, at least for now, I will always be a pastor. I plan on maintaining my ordination with the Free Methodist Church and staying connected to the church at large. I won’t be preaching in a church, but I’ll always have the fire of preaching and teaching in me — a fire that I plan to keep stoked as the Lord continues to guide our lives.
**Will You Still Go To Renovation?**
No. When a pastor leaves a post, it’s customary for them to make way for a new leader, and rightly so.
**What Will Happen At Renovation?**
There are things I don’t know and things I know. What I don’t know is who will take my place. Frankly, that’s not really my business. Renovation is connected to the Free Methodist Church, a network of denominational churches with structures and accountabilities for transitions such as these. In this process, the church board will work in conjunction with the leadership of the Southern Michigan Conference as they select and appoint a new Lead Pastor. I don’t know how long that will take, and I don’t know what the process will look like, though I’ve been part of many transitions like this over the years, and it always seems to work out.
What I do know is that the church belongs to Jesus, and that we can trust that He will guide the people who lead. Renovation is more than its Pastor. Renovation is centered on Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and functions under God the Father. Any church that rises and falls on the status of a particular leader is out of alignment with Jesus. I encourage you to hold on, stay strong, keep building community, and keep reaching the surrounding communities. Our mission to help people find, follow, and be like Jesus is more important than ever. To keep carrying out this work, your church needs you.
**What Are You Going to Do Next?**
That’s a great question. I don’t know. Usually when a Pastor leaves, it’s to go to a different church. I’m not going to another church, at least not yet.
Sometimes when a Pastor leaves, it’s to go to another church-ish job, perhaps a para-church ministry or nonprofit. I’m not doing that, at least not yet.
Occasionally, when a Pastor leaves, it’s to jump into a “secular” job, like insurance or construction. I love how we call certain jobs secular, as if the presence of Jesus is devoid in these vocations. It’s just church talk, and those who grew up in the church know what this terminology means. We’re just differentiating between working in the church vs. outside the church. “Secular” makes it sound like I’d be selling insurance to PAGAN GOAT FARMERS or constructing PENTAGRAMS. I’m not doing that, at least not yet.
**So, You Have NOTHING Lined Up?**
Well, no. Not yet. I’m going to spend 6 months not working, allowing me to rest and regroup after what has been a difficult season of life.
More importantly, not working will allow me to focus on the difficult task of merging families. This will be my most important ministry calling ever.
I might pick up some odd jobs. I’ve always wanted to try substitute teaching, consulting, and writing as my life depended on it. Based on how this post is going, I’m not sure the writing thing is a good plan.
Other than that, Brittany and I will work on some home projects together.
And, for the first time in nearly 30 years, I won’t be worried about how the service on Sunday will go.
**What’s The Plan For Now?**
This coming Sunday (4/24) at Renovation, Superintendent Rhodes will give a Southern Michigan update on next steps. I’ll talk more about this, too.
Until then and after that, I’m gonna keep pastoring (not pestering) Renovation Church. Gonna help my five kids finish the school year strong. Gonna keep preparing for a June wedding ceremony. Gonna do my best to finish well at Renovation. The countdown begins.