"Enjoy your sabbatical," more than one person said to me in the days leading up to my departure for a month long vacation in Montreat, NC. Each time, I responded, "Don't call it a sabbatical. One day I plan on taking one of those also." Leaving town for one month when the fledgling church you helped start only began worship 7 months prior is questionable. I can't imagine an entrepreneur in some other industry would take an extended break 7 months after launching their product. And relative to other seasons as a pastor, I'm not as tired as I know I can be. So why the long break? Here are three good reasons to disappear:
1) Starting a church is a frantic, chaotic enterprise. People tell us it we make it look effortless but sometimes the effortless part is just good acting. Behind the scenes it's messy and every little problem feels like an emergency. You can keep faking for a season but eventually you need to stop and regain perspective. When we started this adventure we intended to echo the kingdom of heaven in our work. In recent weeks it felt more like we were just trying to make it to Sunday. Leaving town forces you to let go of the immediate in order to reclaim the original.
2) It's good for the church. On occasion I still hear people refer to Downtown Church as Amos' church. It's not. But until I'm gone it's hard for the church to know it's bigger than any one person. We've got a faithful talented staff, gracious, wise leaders that don't get paid, and we serve a God that has plans for Downtown Church none of us can yet imagine. Me leaving makes space for others to lead.
3) This fall will feel like another launch. In early September we'll share some news about our future at 701 Whaley that will be exciting. At the same time, you will also hear our plans for small cohort groups, an innovative night school for adults, the expansion of the Spark Coaching Center, the permanent return of our coffee initiative, and an ambitious super-secret community service project. We are making a leap that will require us to back up first and get a running start. For the next few weeks I'll be walking backward.
My plan is to keep blogging in the interim, so continue checking back for updates from me and the staff.