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SealYesterday morning I undertook the difficult task of resigning the pastorate of Middletown Springs Community Church. The last five years have been a tremendous joy to me and my family, and making that announcement was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done.

I shared with my congregation that the sense of discontent I’d been feeling for more than a year had become gradually clearer and clearer to me as a matter of personal deficiency. This is always hard to admit. When I first began feeling overwhelmed, overburdened, over-tired, I simply assumed we were in a difficult ministry season. And we were. We still are. Our church has been through some tremendous suffering over the last couple of years, and with the growth we’ve experienced, new challenges and a higher pace of ministry with heavier demands have compounded the intense sorrow we’ve all been walking through.

But I eventually realized the problem was much deeper than that. It wasn’t entirely out there. It was in here. The truth is that I reached my capacity in leading the church well. I’d come to believe that I’d brought the church as far as my gifts would allow. Now, nobody else was saying that. But I knew it was true. And I didn’t know what to do with it.

I am not one to run. Especially since things have been going so well on the growth front. We have more than tripled in attendance the last five years, but even more importantly, we have seen an increase in souls saved by Christ and baptized, in young families and mature leaders moving to our area to join us on mission, and in forward-thinking vision, culminating largely in our efforts to plant a church in downtown Rutland, Vermont. So there’s nothing to run from, really. Nobody’s mad at me. There’s no conflict pushing me out or great sin disqualifying me. There’s just me. There’s just me realizing, “I don’t think I’m the right guy for what comes next.” It’s as if God has led me to the brink of the promised land and said, “You can’t go in.”

And while I was praying that God would change his mind — or just show me how to manage in the meantime — Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary called me. I was not looking to leave Vermont. I was not sending out resumes. I had been offered jobs before and have always flatly said “no” without thinking. But this time, I listened. I needed to. And the call was no less visionary, no less mission-minded, no less gospel-centered than my call to Middletown Springs. When I learned more about the seminary’s plan to engage, equip, and encourage local church pastors, something stirred in me. Something clicked in place, as if the tricky combination in my heart had finally landed on that last digit. I see clearly that a door has opened to a new season of serving the church with more intensity and a greater fit.

In March, we will be moving to Kansas City so that I may serve full-time at Midwestern Seminary and College as the Director of Content Strategy and Managing Editor of For The Church. There I will be leading a team of creatives and writers passionate about telling Midwestern’s story and developing ministry resources for the church. I am thrilled about this transition, because I share Midwestern’s love for the pastors who love their churches. They are the faithful, patient, unsung heroes in our day, and I am excited to serve them — as well as the young men who are becoming them.

I will continue to write and travel, speak and preach. We will seek out a local church to call home, a place to worship together as a family and to serve as the Lord leads, to be fed as I have fed. Lord willing, after some time, I would love to submit to some smaller role as shepherd according to my capacity. I do believe that is God’s calling on my life. At this time, he is asking me to answer it in contributing to the growing ministry of Midwestern. (We will be releasing some major projects in the months ahead, so stay tuned.) If my work has blessed you in any way over the last few years, I ask that you’d pray for my wife and daughters, for me, and for the seminary, that through this work God’s Son would be made more visible in the world and trusted as saving and satisfying.

And please pray for my church. Like my family, they are deeply saddened about this parting. Many in the congregation are shocked, confused. And as we all process this bittersweet transition together, I am planning over the next five months to continue pointing them to Christ with all the energy God works within me. Middletown Springs Community Church is unlike any church I’ve ever been privileged to call family. It has been an exceeding joy to be their shepherd for this relatively short time. They are, in the good sense, as Paul says, “my boast.” I will miss them terribly, because I love them with my guts.

churchweb_mediumWhen I finished my announcement yesterday morning, I began my planned exposition of 1 Corinthians 3:1-9. It’s important stuff. Sometimes I am a planter, other times a waterer, but all the time I am “not anything” (v.7). Middletown Church is “God’s field, God’s building” (v.9). I am learning with my flock and through them, by the Spirit’s power, how to point them to Jesus and get myself the heck out of the way. I hope God always grants me the grace to do that.

Christ the Lord is everything.

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27 thoughts on “I Love the Church, and That’s Why I Resigned”

  1. Simon says:

    Thank you for your work as it stirs the gospel in my soul. I am thankful to God for you. I will be praying for you, your family, next steps, future ministry and your church. Praying the Lord uses it all of it to make much of himself and to bring a deep, deep joy to His people.

  2. Andrew says:

    Jared, I for one am tremendously grateful for your ministry and will certainly be praying for your transition to MBTS. I lived in KC for several years and love the city. Be sure to check out Faith Community Church there (don’t worry, it’s an SBC church!). It is not far from the seminary, and it is a wonderful fellowship. Also: Oklahoma Joe’s barbecue. :)

  3. Jason says:

    About 5 years ago I felt just about the same way. In fact, I told my elders that I wondered if I were the one to take us into the future. They told me that I was the one, but I was doubtful. I stuck it out and 5 years later many great things have happened in the church. Many years later an elder came up to me and said, “I told you that you were the one God wanted for this next season of our church.” In Jared’s case it was time to move on and pursue a new ministry. In my case it was time to press on and stay in the same ministry. We are both grateful for our wonderful families, friends and elders who helped us in the process.

  4. Jeanie Schwagerman says:

    Exited for you and your move to KC. I live in Lee’s Summit and there are wonderful churches here. Redeemer in Kansas city and the one I go to in Lee’s Summit Summit Woods Baptist Church. I am sure you will get many recommendations and yes the BBQ is great! SLAPS BBQ is here in KC KS! Your move will be KC gain!

  5. Bird says:

    Proud of you.

  6. Darryl Dash says:

    Praying for you and this transition, Jared. Great post.

  7. Beth says:

    Favorite part “I am not taking the gospel with me!” So thankful for you and this truth.

    1. Jared C. Wilson says:

      Beth, we love you guys. Thanks for being such an encouragement.

  8. Excited for you. That’s a tremendous win for Midwestern Seminary.

  9. Jared: I know you don’t know me but I have benefited from reading your blog and several of your books. I am of the opinion that when God calls, He calls. He makes it known. Though not the only thing to do, but the best, is to be obedient. Sort of like the “this is your mission and should you choose to accept it…” You have made your choice. Well. Glad to hear you are open to Him.

  10. David says:

    Jerad, Even thought we don’t know each other, I thank you for letting others “in” to the difficult underbelly of leaving a people you love and moving toward the unknown journey in front of you. I experienced a similar move from a church plant, to a different position here in the KC area too. Would love to be available to you, one husband and father to another, during this changing season.

  11. Bob Wiegers says:

    the Lord used one of your blog posts to set our sights back on New England, so here we are (now a student at GCTS) and we hope to stay. many thanks for your ministry. I am sad that my beloved Vermont is losing you, but alas, God is faithful.

  12. Phil Wade says:

    Wow. May the Lord continue to bless you and Middletown Springs. And may he accomplish great things through Midwestern Baptist.

  13. Matthew Abate says:

    I love this statement from your post: “It’s as if God has led me to the brink of the promised land and said, ‘You can’t go in.'”

    Two Sundays ago, my pastor announced to the congregation that he would be transitioning out as the lead pastor by the end of this year. He echoed the statement that I quoted from your piece. I think your piece indicates real humility by allowing the Spirit of God to show you your place and your role in his kingdom. For my pastor, it was difficult to accept that our Lord would seem to be saying to him that “You are not the one to lead these people.” It wound up being a “rubber meets the road” summer for him. He underwent similar emotions like you and self-examination. In the end, he realized in his heart and through trusted leaders of his denomination that the Lord was calling him to step down as lead pastor. The next stage for him is to plant a church in St. Louis, Missouri. May you and my pastor continue to faithfully serve and obey the voice of the Good Shepherd.

  14. David Axberg says:

    Wow New England will miss you. I will miss knowing you are here with backbone fighting on the front lines of a tough battle ground called New England. I wish you all the best in this new phase of life. Our guest room is always open. God Bless Now!

  15. Eric says:

    “The sense of discontent I’d been feeling for more than a year had become gradually clearer and clearer to me as a matter of personal deficiency. ”

    “The truth is that I reached my capacity in leading the church well. I’d come to believe that I’d brought the church as far as my gifts would allow.”

    It’s as if God has led me to the brink of the promised land and said, “You can’t go in.”

    “season of serving the church with more intensity and a greater fit”

    “But he will be more worthy than me, which is what they need.”

    I believe the Lord will bless you in this new course you are taking, brother. However, just so that we are clear, Moses was not disqualified because of personal deficiency, he was chosen because of personal deficiency and the Lord is exalted in weakness. Moses did not enter the promised land because of his disobedience and not because of personal deficiency. Do not make so much of your personal inadequacy. God does not look for the talented and the adequate for His use. Blessings brother.

    1. Jared C. Wilson says:

      Eric, thanks for your comment. I agree with you. I did not mean to imply that Moses was deficient like me. I was only trying to tell what it felt like to me.

      1. Eric says:

        Thanks for responding, brother. I did not merely intend to correct our thinking about Moses for the sake of correctness. I intended to encourage you. I want you to be full of faith in the Lord. So that in this next season in your life you will experience the Lord in the same way that Moses did by God’s grace.

  16. I am thankful for your obedience, even when it may not make sense to those around you. You have been a huge blessing to the advancement of the gospel in New England. See you on the other side…

  17. Dustin Lair says:

    Congratulations on the new job, but I must say I’m sad for your church. I’m hopeful that you will be able to do more to impact the local church from your new position, but will selfishly miss your posts from the trenches. I’m thankful that because of your transparency about the sufferings of your congregation I didn’t have to walk alone while similar things were happening at my church. You helped me greatly.

    Welcome to Missouri! May God richly bless you, your family and His bride.

  18. Bill Boulet says:

    I have served as Teaching Pastor in Lakeland for over 17 years and before that I was in N.E. Penn for 14 years. Leaving NE PA was the most painful decision I had made to that point in my life (I was moving an 11, 13 and 15 year old as well) The Church had experienced explosive growth (200 to 1,000) which was unprecedented in that portion of the state (as your growth is unusual for VT, I know I grew up in Mass and one of my best friends pastors in Belmont VT) I want to encourage you in relation to your family. I know your concern for your family runs deep as it should. All 3 of my children adapted well to their new surroundings and my wife fit in so well. It wasn’t without struggles, there were times in the first few years I wondered what we had done, and had I misunderstood the unrest in my soul? Looking back now I see the wisdom of God, and my whole family is grateful that the Lord led us here.
    One of our commitments in life has been to maximize our gifts and talents for the glory of Jesus even if it is uncomfortable, and it seems to me that is exactly what you are doing in this move, may the King bless you richly for your willingness to step out by faith.

  19. mpt says:

    Jared, congrats on your new path. It sound like an ideal fit for you. I pray your transition away from your church, community, and Vermont will be a happy and healthy one, and that this soon-coming new adventure gives you much to look forward to… best, mpt

  20. CHRIS KOTTING says:

    You are doing your congregation a great service, that will outlast you, or your successor. You are teaching your congregation how to grow and thrive in the midst of change. Our congregation is very blessed that or first pastor came to that same realization, and established a plan for succession that we still use today, almost 30 years later.

  21. Zach Barton says:

    MBTS FTW…New England will miss your light brother. You think your light is dim but it’s still bright for those blessed to have been pastored by you and the many of us whom you’ve encouraged through email and twitter. Thanks for your example of faithfulness. Thanks for being open and honest and showing God is good when we acknowledge our frailty. Good luck with New England withdrawal too!

  22. Russ says:

    Jared, our stories sound almost identical. I just resigned after 5 years of tough church planting in Myrtle Beach, SC. I too, questioned whether I was the “right” fit for the church moving forward. The process has been bitter sweet but I am confident that God will provide for the church the leader it needs for the next chapter. I don’t know you but will be praying for you and your family. May the Lord use you greatly to train up leaders and send them out to the nations.

  23. Flyaway says:

    Wow! That was a fast 5 years! I’ve enjoyed reading your blog and seeing how the Lord is working in you and in your church. It is good to know that God works with each of us differently. Our church hasn’t grown in 5 years and is shrinking but I think that the people are growing as disciples. I pray that your church and out church will bring glory to God!

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Jared C. Wilson

Jared C. Wilson is the Director of Content Strategy for Midwestern Seminary, managing editor of For The Church, director of The Pastoral Training Center at Liberty Baptist Church, and author of more than ten books, including Gospel Wakefulness, The Pastor’s Justification, and The Prodigal Church. You can follow him on Twitter.

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