5 Pastors: on my return to the local church

So the news has been posted. The world has been informed. I’m moving to Nashville. But that’s not the biggest news. Perhaps to some, the even bigger, earth rattling, ground shaking, proportionately epic news would be that I am also returning to the local church. I want to publicly thank 5 pastors, who perhaps without even knowing it, led me back to the local church.

5 Pastors.

5 Shepherds.

I have never served in their churches and with some, I’ve never even attended. Frankly, I’ve only heard 2 out of the 5 actually preach. But these 5 men were absolutely instrumental in my healing and in leading me back to the local church.

Pete Wilson (pastor at Crosspoint Community Church in Nashville) replied to a tweet long ago that I’d sent out announcing I’d just ordered his book Plan B. May seem small to some, but it was huge to me… A pastor who responded & seemed to be listening. Then of course there was his response to my post on Why I Don’t Follow Rick Warren. He encouraged my questions. He encouraged my hope. This was the first noted catalyst in my healing.

Francis Chan is a pastor that I paid attention to from afar for quite some time. I had heard the stories of his church practices and loved every one of them. I finally visited his church for the 1st time on the evening of his resignation. I was blown away. I left with hope for the church. I left with hope that one day, I may find acceptance and commonality in a church community. I later met him in an airport & he was more gracious than I’d even expected. Another catalyst in my healing.

Dave Gibbons (pastor at Newsong Church in Irvine) is just one of those pastors that will either scare you to death or set your heart at ease. Why? Because he’s open. So very very open. He’s open to the Holy Spirit. He’s open to God’s plan. He’s willing to shake things up and let go of church plans as God speaks and/or leads. This can be scary for some, but I found myself trusting quickly as he admitted he didn’t always know what was next for the church or how things would be done in the future. His church has been my go-to suggestion for friends in the area that were having trouble trusting the Church’s system. He is a shepherd, my Dr. Drew during Church Rehab and he was another catalyst in my healing.

Shaun King was the pastor of a large church in Atlanta. He walked away from all of that and moved to Southern California. As I watched this unfold via Twitter, I was in awe and filled with hope. A pastor that walked away from his title, his investment, his job, all because of his conviction & revelation? What the £@{%~€?!! Shaun is known to speak his convictions without apology on his blog and Twitter and Shaun was another catalyst in my healing.

Brent Hodge (campus pastor at Crosspoint Community Church in Hendersonville) has been a friend on Twitter for over a year. I have always been encouraged by his willingness to dialogue on taboo church topics. But the real amazingness came when I stayed with his beautiful family during my recent vacation to Nashville. He gave me the grand tour of the city, history lesson and all. He made space for me in his home and made me feel welcomed as a friend. He knows my story, and doesn’t appreciate me in spite of it, but all the more for it. Brent was another catalyst in my healing.

These snippets aren’t the whole story. There are many details that hit even deeper, but that is MY story, to be told at another time & perhaps in a less public way. The most important factor was always trust. I had lost trust. It didn’t matter whether the community was trust worthy, or the leaders were trust worthy, or even if the system was trust worthy. I just needed to see glimpses of pastors, who didn’t require my service to them or their dreams, that could be trusted. Not to be perfect, but to be life giving, hopeful, grace-filled, unapologetically pliable, and openly questioning the system that I have spent my entire life questioning.

Thank you sirs. Thank you for allowing God to use you to lead me back. Thank you for not giving up on Him and the things He’s taught you. And thank you for not giving up on me.

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  • Comments (14)
    • Liz
    • March 29th, 2012

    This beautiful Julia. You have highlighted some wonderful people who have been open in their ministries. And I’ve loved watching your journey unfold. I’m only disappointed that I didn’t make the list. 😉

      • JuliaKate
      • March 30th, 2012

      Ha! Thanks Liz. And when I make my list of 5 Therapists that kept me sane after church, you’ll be on it;)

  1. Wonderful journey of healing. Glad it’s brought you home. Thank you for this. I think it’s something that many people need to read. There are many people out there who need healing from painful church experiences. This is the first post of yours I’ve read, so I’m not 100% sure that applies here…but even if not, it still applies. God bless.

      • JuliaKate
      • March 30th, 2012

      It definitely applies! Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • Kathy Scruggs
    • March 29th, 2012

    Welcome Back, Honey!!!! Praise God

      • JuliaKate
      • March 30th, 2012

      Thank you Kathy:)

  2. Julia. I am better for knowing you. Please always keep me real! Love you. And I look forward to being nashvillians together!

      • JuliaKate
      • March 30th, 2012

      Nashvillians… Can’t wait!

  3. That’s so exciting!!! And I love your shout out here. 🙂

      • JuliaKate
      • March 30th, 2012

      Thanks for reading friend:)

    • Margaret Howell
    • March 29th, 2012

    Julia, loved this entry. It is so exciting to see how the Lord is directing your steps. How grateful we are for those open, honest, authentic, transparent pastors, and others (missionaries, friends, etc), the Lord has put and is putting in our life as well. We love you bunches! Thanks for sharing your heart!

      • JuliaKate
      • March 30th, 2012

      Thank you Margaret. There are so many different folks who have been instrumental, that’s for sure. There is something quite significant for me, however, when it comes to the role of pastors. I am blessed by those who he has assigned to my journey:)

  4. finding 5 pastors in your life that seemingly care and have a heart after God is a rarity. you are blessed. most people can’t even find one.

      • JuliaKate
      • March 30th, 2012

      That is definitely part of the message here. But I am grateful none the less:)

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