May 3, 2015
This announcement is to inform you of our decision to resign from my position as Associate Pastor of Student Ministries at Ross Road Community Church. The elders and I have agreed that my last day will be September 3, the last day of Middle School Adventure Camp. There are a number of reasons for our decision, which I would like to outline for you.
I have been doing youth ministry for 9 years at RRCC – 1 year as a volunteer, 2 years as an intern and 6 years as full time youth pastor. When I first started, Jenny and I did everything together. The demands of ministry did not take a toll on us because we did it together and we were passionate about it. 6 years later we have two young kids and the demands of ministry have been difficult on us. Youth ministry comes with a lot of evening and weekend demands and these have been mounting and taking me away from my family a great deal. This in and of itself does not lead me to resign – every job has its drawbacks and every job takes a parent away from their children at times. It is, however, an important factor.
I’ve also been working at my Master of Arts in Christian Studies degree at ACTS Seminary. RRCC has been very gracious in financially supporting this venture and giving me time to work on it. It has, however, meant an extra burden on the family as many of my days off are spent doing school work. The mix of family, ministry, and work has been difficult to manage at times.
However, both of those reasons still don’t give a complete picture of this decision. Equally important is that I feel that God is redirecting my passions. I have had a sense for quite some time that I would not be a youth pastor forever and that He would call me to use gifts that He has been developing in me over time and that have been affirmed in me by trusted mentors such as preaching and teaching. We sense that God is leading me out of youth ministry at this point in time towards these things.
I plan to enter school full time this fall to complete my degree. This should be completed by the end of summer 2016 or fall 2016. We are stepping out in faith into the unknown as we do not know what lies on the other side of my schooling. We are trusting God for His provision – He will, and already has, provided in amazing ways.
We would not be doing this if we did not feel God’s direction. We have spent many sleepless nights evaluating our own motives and heart in this, and discerning if God is indeed calling us to this decision. In many ways, we feel He has orchestrated this – we’d be happy to talk about how we have seen God’s hand in this with you privately if you wish. Through conversations I’ve had with trusted friends and mentors our sense of God’s leading has been affirmed, though that does not make this any less difficult.
RRCC is the church I grew up in, the church in which Jenny came to faith, and the church in which we met and got married. We are excited for this new venture but sorrowful at what we will lose. We have poured much into this church and have received much from it. Please know that there is no conflict between myself and the elders or pastoral staff. We have nothing but confidence and trust in them and need you to know that we leave RRCC on good terms. The most excruciatingly difficult part of this process has been thinking of the friends we have gained that we may have to move away from, the people we won’t get to work with anymore, and the students, volunteers, and parents we won’t be ministering to and with anymore. In short, if you all weren’t so likeable, this would be easy! Therefore we hope to not completely disappear. If you’ll have us, we plan on continuing to attend here in the next year.
A few last comments:
To the students of Ross Road, both past and present – we know this decisions impacts you most directly and we’ve given a lot of consideration to that. For some of you, this will be difficult news and we recognize that. In fact, there is never a good time to leave. One of our prayers has been that none of you will fall through the cracks through the transition to a new youth pastor. We continue to pray that God will grow your faith and use you in mighty ways. Thank you for letting us be a part of your lives over the past 8 years. We have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know you and being able to play some role, large or small, in your faith journeys. You have been a blessing to us and we hope that you have been blessed by us.
Finally, a challenge to you, the congregation. This church is full of teenagers who love Jesus and need older mentors. If you have ever thought about getting involved in the youth ministry here, now is the time. For the good of our teens and the health of the ministry, how awesome would it be if the new youth pastor stepped in to a full team of volunteers eager to make a difference in the lives of young people.
There is plenty of time for more specific thank you's from us to individuals here between now and September 3. Many of you deserve our deepest gratitude. For now, thank you to each of you for the love that you have shown to my family and me. We love you Ross Road.
Craig, Jenny, Joshua, and Kenzi Thiessen