Sunday, March 16, 2008

It's Getting Harder and Easier to Say Goodbye...

2006 began an unwanted trend at Anchor: people I really cared about began to leave for one reason or another. They were all hard. Some really hard. Most are still hard to accept. Pastoring is about relationships, about connections, about teamwork, about reliance, about journeying together. So when people you rely on, people you enjoy, people you care about, people you need start leaving, and keep leaving, it's hard to keep going.

At first it was easy to say the hard goodbyes because there were only a couple of them to do. But then there were more. And more. I'm at a point where I waver between caring and not caring. What's one more crucial family to leave? We desperately need them, but they don't or can't be here any more. So what is God up to? It's really hard to see how all these families leaving is for Anchor's best. It's usually easier to focus on my own performance and tell myself that if I had been a better preacher, or a better leader, or a better counselor, or a better friend, or a better....

If I stop caring, then part of me dies. If I keep caring, part of me dies. I guess I'm better off still caring. So once again I go to God in prayer, asking him like crazy to give me wisdom and courage to keep going in whatever direction he wants. Anchor has changed so much in the last two years. Longtime friends have left, some of them helped start the church, some of them friends for decades, some of them close ministry partners. They're gone and I'm still here. New families have come, they are bringing their friends, and Anchor goes on. But how we go on, and how well we go on, all that seems to be up in the air these days.

We will go on. Anchor will reemerge and become something new, I suppose that is what is going on right now. I try and push the fear down: who else will leave? When will someone come and stay for awhile?

Anchor has a beautiful opportunity to bring hope and healing to many individuals, families, and neighbors. There are so many stories of heartache - some of them in the near past, some of them in the painful present. With all these Anchorites needing restoration and reconciliation, I feel like Anchor is at the center of where ministry matters most. I believe in helping them so much, I wish more people were here to join those of us left, to serve and love and lead and experience God's patient and transforming work. I am so glad for who is at Anchor now, for those who serve and those being served.

Not my will, Thy will be done.


Grateful member of Al-anon said...

I feel for you and understand. When a family left, right after the new year, it was very hard for me because no one said anything, they were just gone. We're not always privy to God's plan and He has one. When people need to move on, I have to believe that God means for them to be useful somewhere else. And we don't need them any longer. They're place here is done and that's all. It doesn't mean that we won't hurt, it means God will help us through the move and change. Freedom in God's love doesn't mean He takes the storm away, it means He sees us through the storm. And all is well now and then.
Keeping you in our prayers!

Anonymous said...

As someone who left the church in the past few years I can say I truly miss the people of Anchor. It was best for my family to go elsewhere for children's programming. I was, and still am, sad to know you never contacted us or even tried to see if all was OK. We obviously weren't missed much. I continue to pray for the people at Anchor and wish you all nothing but awesome things!!

Tim Hallman said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thanks for the ongoing prayers for Anchor, that is very sweet.

Every family that has left has been difficult to accept. I suppose that may contribute to the lack of contact. It's hard to be rejected, even for an understandable reason like children's programming. Lack of contact may not be so much about your family not being missed, so much as the pain of having a formal farewell.

That said, I can imagine the hurt you have at not being contacted, regardless of the reason. Sorry.

Blessings to you - thanks for still caring about Anchor!