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What I’ve Learned In The Past Year

Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called (Ephesians 4:1).

January 17, 2021, was a top-three date in my life. 

Most important:  New Year’s Eve 1971/72, when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior and was baptized in the Atlantic Ocean near Daytona Beach. Second: Barbara and I were married July 9, 1977 – 45 years next July.

Why January 17, 2021, as the third? The date that I became Founding Pastor at Fellowship and Jeremy Hudson became Senior Pastor.

I was the Senior Pastor for 49 years. 

2021 was extraordinary for all of us, but uniquely so for me as I transitioned from Pastor Grant to – well – something else! What I have learned:

A new identity. I had been one thing for 49 years and then I wasn’t. The succession process at Fellowship was planned, strategically implemented, and God’s will. The change of title happened on one date, but I couldn’t quickly switch off the feeling that I was still the Senior Pastor at Fellowship.

In the past year, I’ve found my emotions catching up with the decision. It’s taken prayer, introspection, and lots of patience from my wife Barbara.

Writing unravels your life. Most pastors that I know say they want to write a book. They probably should but don’t. C.S. Lewis gives the reason when he explained to a pastor how to become a writer, “You need to sit down and write.” 

I’ve done that for the past year. Most mornings it takes an hour and a half to write this blog. Now I’m writing a book on Next Steps about discipleship culture. I’ve found that to write three hours a day, you must allow the rest of your life to become unraveled.

Difficult for me, as I tend to give in to life’s distractions.  

One author said, “Here is my first book. I wrote it 10 years ago. I struggled with ignoring what I thought were important things to do then. Now, I have this book, and I can’t remember even one of those important things from 10 years ago.”

I’m not a local pastor anymore. According to Ephesians 4, being a pastor is a gift and calling of God. I am a pastor. But I’m not the pastor of a local church. My role changed to working with pastors and leaders both locally and around the world. 

I loved being a local pastor and interacting with those at church as their pastor. 

I can’t do that anymore without undermining the very talented pastoral team at Fellowship. This doesn’t mean that I’m not a friend and a co-worker, but my focus is different. 

Five years ago, the elders at Fellowship asked me to research and design Fellowship’s succession plan. As I began to research the topic, I quickly discovered that the most important item for success was not the next pastor but that the current pastor had a next too.

I have a next.  

I’m thrilled to be working with a team of volunteers – and we are working with (or soon to work with leaders) in Russia, Belarus, India, Philippines, Cambodia, Myanmar, Hong Kong, and Thailand.

Also, churches locally and around the nation.

Yes, we need help and more volunteers. Check out www.DisciplingAnother.com.