This past Sunday at New Life we announced that Pastor Ross Parsley will be relocating to Austin, Texas to plant a life giving church sometimes next spring or summer. It was a really special moment for all of us at New Life to send out such an amazing leader to fulfill an obvious call on his life. It was also special because church planting is one of my deepest passions and one of the most significant ways any church can fulfill the Great Commission.
Pastor Ross and I have been praying, planning and discussing this for months and after praying some more with the elders we all sensed it was time to launch Ross into this new adventure. Pastor Ross will put a dent in the universe when he gets to Austin and we, as his New Life family, are committed to praying and supporting him.
I believe Pastor Ross and his team has been set up for success because he chose to leave the best possible way. Too many times, a young leader gets a call to plant a church, but then finds it difficult to get any support from his leadership or does not value the input of his leaders. I have found there are three common ways to leave one church and plant another, but only one gets the full blessings of heaven.
Most often, a young leader is not allowed to even talk about leaving for fear of punishment or the young leader does not value authority so they leave suddenly. I call this a divorce. It is ugly and hurtful, both to the young leader and to the church they leave. The relationship is sometimes forever fractured which must cause God great sorrow.
The second way is not much better. The young leader decides to plant a church and announces it later to the leadership without really asking them to be a part of the process. Most times, the leaders of the church pray for them and announce it to the church, but there is no permanent partnership.
Pastor Ross chose the best way. He was open and honest about his desire to plant a church and he allowed me and the other elders a chance to pray with him and give him counsel every step of the way. He even gave us permission to stop the church plant if we felt he was making a mistake. That took a lot of courage and integrity for Pastor Ross, but it was the right thing to do and God will bless him.
This church plant feels like a wedding, not a divorce. We are certainly sad that Pastor Ross is leaving, but just like a wedding, we are also happy for the new family that is being formed and we are already looking forward to Pastor Ross coming back for lots of visits. When he does return, he will be welcomed home with cheers and hugs.
I am proud of Pastor Ross and I am proud of New Life. I suspect we will send lots of young leaders to plant churches in the coming years, and I hope we can always celebrate weddings and not be saddened by any divorces. If we will commit to being a sending church and young leaders will choose to be sent, the Kingdom of Heaven will expand and our New Life family will only multiply.