That day would be today.

No, that’s not news, I grant, but today is a day unlike any I’ve had in my life.  Yesterday, I completed my time as pastor at Red Oak, an Evangelical Free Church.  Today, I am opening shift manager at the Macland Crossing Chick-fil-A in Marietta, GA.

I’ve not been in this position, really, in my entire life.  I went to seminary in order to prepare for vocational Christian ministry and, with the exception of a roughly-three-month stretch in 1986 while living in Colorado, this is what I’ve done for the past 25 years (even more, if you count a two-year internship at my home church in Roanoke).  A review, for no particular purpose save to bring my friends up-to-date:

  • I was Youth Ministries Intern at Shenandoah Baptist Church in Roanoke, 1983-1985.
  • I was Minister of Youth in Pit of Darkness Baptist…err, Lighthouse Baptist Church in Pueblo, Colorado for a few months too long, 1985 (I should be more charitable; there were some wonderful people there, wonderful people, and some long-term good came of that experience).
  • I was Minister of Youth for Gideon Baptist Church of Fountain, Colorado for a period of about 14 months, 1986-1987.
  • I was Minister of Education and Youth at First Baptist Church, Bassett, VA, for two-and-a-half years, including a 14-month stretch as Interim Pastor, that lasted until the end of 1989.
  • I was Pastor of Brentwood Baptist Church, High Point, NC, from January 1990 through March 1993.
  • I was the first Pastor of Fellowship Community Church (EFCA) of Mercer, PA, for thirteen-and-a-half mostly-wonderful years.
  • I came to Red Oak, An Evangelical Free Church, in October, 2006 and finished yesterday.

The difference between my several-month hiatus in 1986 and what I’m doing now is that my intent was to find another youth pastorate as soon as possible in 1986, and God provided in rapid fashion.  This time, I have no idea when—or if—I’ll pastor again.  For the first time in my entire life, I’ll begin searching for a home church that won’t be paying me a dime.  We are committed to two years minimum at Chick-fil-A, and two will likely equal at least three, given that Practically Perfect Daughter has just finished her ninth-grade year, and moving during or just before her senior year would be, well, a bummer.  Of course, by that time, I’ll be 52 years old, and while the somewhat prevalent contemporary viewpoint that a pastor of that age is “past his prime”, as we ever pursue youth, is a deplorable and foolhardy trend, that and three years absence from pastoral ministry are likely to serve to diminish my prospects further.

So what.

God’s in control.  I’m not leaving the ministry; I’m leaving (for 2-3 years) the paid pastorate.  As a Christian, I will leave the ministry when God sees fit to give me my promotion; otherwise, being in ministry is an occupational hazard for every child of God, and only a foolhardy and unbiblical cleavage between the “clergy” and the “laity” accounts for that nonsense.

Now, it’s certainly a fair question to ask how I will employ my main spiritual gift: teaching.  The answer to that remains to be seen.  I might eventually seek an interim pastorate.  I must ramp up my Walk Thru the Bible ministry (I’m excited about doing that!).  There’s a cutting-edge ministry opp that I’m talking about with a friend (gotta get this CFA manager thing down well first, though).  We’ll have to see.  For now, taking a few months off from sermon prep, getting my family into a church where people see me as a regular guy instead of as “the pastor” (and that’s no swipe at Red Oak, FCC, or anybody; it’s just what it is, of course.  I’ve got no complaints; none.  Had a great last Sunday yesterday!).

And so began today, the first day of the rest of my life.  I’m looking forward to the ride…

9 responses »

  1. Shannon says:

    I don’t know whether or not you wanted this change, but I have to say I’m sorry to hear abuot it. I have rarely felt as connected to or mentally stimulated by a church as I did during the year I was part of your congregation, and I believe a lot of that was due to your leadership. Hope the Lord leads you back to the pastorate soon.

  2. Philip Day says:

    Byron,

    I have been following your “calling-change” on you Facebook page and commend you for following the Lord into a new career.

    God bless you and let me know if I may be of service to you. I understand God’s moving in mysterious ways. Keep us informed.

    Sincerely,

    Phil Day
    RVCS Class of 1982

  3. Jack Brooks says:

    There’s real value in being ministered to, at certain points in life.

  4. Andrew Debranski says:

    I’m sure you will continue to touch and enrich people’s lives. I only knew you as Harold Hill before your career change so this will be an adjustment for me also! 🙂

  5. Mark Merritt says:

    I don’t know what to say Byron except that I’m very happy for you. That might sound weird coming from a former pastor who often feels like a part of him is missing, but the freedom (there I said it) that you will be experiencing will more than compensate for any loss that you will feel,IMO. May God bless your Through the Bible endeavors.

  6. Jim Hill says:

    What an opportunity you have now! You are still in full time ministry, just not paid, umless you count the wonderful blessing and reward from our LORD. As we talked months ago, I think it is time for change and time to use your gift of teaching in a new setting. Be aware your gift might change, it might becaome the gift of mercy as I have HAHA. Congrats Byron! Show the world the LORD

  7. Chris says:

    Byron,

    The Holy Spirit worked through you to help change my life. I will be forever grateful for everything you did for me and my family. I’m glad we’ll still be able to stay in touch.

  8. Bob Robinson says:

    I’m praying for you, buddy. These are hard times for a lot of us.
    I have an assignment for you: Memorize and sing for your co-workers Tim Hawkins’ song, “Chick-Fil-A”. I know your a fan like I am!

  9. Louise says:

    As much as we may not like it, that’s what this life is all about…change. Some are of our choosing and some are not. I’ve come to the realization that even when we don’t like the circumstances of changes, and can’t always see that God is in it because it didn’t happen the way we would like, God is still in them. And for that, I am thankful.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s