It is official. After seven very rewarding years, I will be leaving First UMC of Carollton as of July 1. The bishop has appointed me to start a new church in the area of Rhome, Texas. The community at the center of the "mission field" is called Seven Hills. Get it? The Seven Hills of Rome? Or in this case, adding an "h." Let the jokes begin. Will you be appointed Pastor or Caesar? Will you have acolytes or gladiators? Will you build a church or a Colosseum? Where will you keep the lions? Feel free to add some of your own.
While I have a great deal of sadness about leaving First Carrollton, I am incredibly excited about the adventure ahead. According to the best research, the best way to introduce new people into a relationship with Christ is through church planting. On top of that, the open door to being free to create and to be unfettered by institutional memory and expectations is mind-boggling. I just hope I don't have my bubble burst the second week of the new church start by someone saying, "That's not how we did it last week!"
But before the fun begins, there is a house to be sold and a family to move. There is church planting "boot camp" (yes, they actually call it that) to attend. There are good-byes to be said and memories to begin to treasure in an even deeper way.
It won't be easy. But when does God ever call anyone in Scripture to do something easy? I can't find it. Though church planting is anything but a game (although there should be a significant amount of fun to it), in keeping with the spirit of the imagery of Rome - Let the games begin.
(I know, but there were Roman games as well.)