Last Sunday at South Pasadena Christian Church

26 Jul

This past Sunday was my last Sunday at South Pasadena Christian Church.

For the past 3 years and 5 months I have served that little church as its Senior Pastor. I came in at age 28 without a completed theological degree, without any previous preaching experience, and a strange sense none of that would matter.

Even though I’m not the most “spiritual” person in the world — I prefer to say I’m “religious, not spiritual” in direct antagonism to the popular description of “spiritual, not religious” — I supposed my lack of pastoral training would not matter, because the job seemed exactly what God had called to me do.

I have likened my story to Jonah’s.

Jonah despised God’s call for him to preach and so ran away only to find that God didn’t give a rat’s ass what he thought. In the end, Jonah preached and his preaching was successful, but the man couldn’t stand it. He hated it.

Likewise, the call to step up and be a spokesperson for God came upon me. I wasn’t planning on ever becoming a pastor and the thought of speaking for God freaked me out. Yet, once I realized what was happening, I knew two choices existed: enjoy it or end up depressed like Jonah. Thankfully, I chose to enjoy to watch it all unfold.

In the end, I walk away with several treasures in my pocket: a breadth of experience from failures and successes, the pleasure of knowing a good number of impressive people, a clearer hope for what a church can become, and a confirmation that this was not a one-time gig. I will return to working in a church, whether its as a head pastor or some subordinate minion. That will wait though. For now, it’s time for a new adventure!

To everyone at SPCC, thank you so much for being gracious to me and for allowing me into your lives in such significant ways. You have blessed me immensely. Continue to seek faithfulness to the gospel above productivity and comfort.

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6 Responses to “Last Sunday at South Pasadena Christian Church”

  1. MIke Perez July 26, 2011 at 5:50 pm #

    I will miss you Stephen. I hope you know that you did not come here of your own doing. You were brought here. If you step back and see all the “coincidences” and how all the pieces of the puzzle finally fit, you will clearly see that. If you and Maggie come back from Argentina without one incredible recipe, I will be disappointed. To you both, God bless and have fun!

    • Stephen July 27, 2011 at 8:17 am #

      I think we can manage one recipe. But it seems I could just learn from Tom and Dyann here. They helped put together an amazing Argentinean lunch on Sunday.

  2. Tina Bell July 26, 2011 at 6:51 pm #

    God bless you, Stephen and Maggie. You’re right, Stephen, none of “that” mattered, but YOU did…and God’s plan. Thanks for being with us for as long as you were; I am saddened by your departure, but I am even more grateful (when I’m not crying) for your presence. Thank you.

  3. Loyana July 26, 2011 at 7:26 pm #

    It’s good that you followed your calling happily. Because you’re right, God will get you either way, might as well enjoy the journey and laughs! And just look at all the happy faces you left. Thank you Pastor Stephen. Enjoy your next adventure! Soooooo can’t wait for mine to begin. Although, it’s happening…and I’m stoked! ;-)

    • Stephen July 27, 2011 at 8:16 am #

      Loyana, you leave me intrigued.

  4. David Soyk July 27, 2011 at 9:06 am #

    Stephen, God is using you for His purpose, just as you prayed. You and Maggie are special and dear friends, and I pray that you will give of your gifts while you are in Argentina, and that God will continue to chart your course. Oh, and eat well too!

    The amazing gifts that He has bestowed in you will be the seeds to many treasures planted in many people during your journey. SPCC was clearly in God’s plans, and I am grateful for our friendship. Having watched you grow has been a blessing to my life, as well as the lives of those whom you have touched. You have begun God’s work at SPCC, and God will continue to provide HIS plan and mission through those who serve.

    May God be always with you both, watching over and guiding you. God bless Jonah!

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