Kristi and I are making a massive life transition that we shared with our church this morning. Here is what I read to them and I wanted to share it with you, our online community who has been following our life and ministry:
My greatest fear in life would be doing something or leading my family in a direction that is against what God has called us to do. Ever since I gave my life to Jesus when I was eight, and especially since I was called into full-time ministry at eighteen, I have learned that the most fulfilling and fruitful place to be is at the center of God’s will. But sometimes leaving where you are to move into that center can be terrifying.
And so it’s with a heavy heart, a nervous apprehension, a trusting spirit, and yet an excited anticipation for the future that I must announce that Kristi and I are stepping away as the leaders of Resonate Church. We are doing this in order to answer a call God has placed on our lives to help people from all over the world find purpose in their pain through Nothing is Wasted.
I know to many of you this may come as a huge surprise and may seem fairly sudden. But for many others, it comes as no shock at all. In fact over the course of the last several months as we’ve consulted various close mentors and friends about this decision, there seems to be a resounding confirmation that this is where God is leading us. In an effort to help you understand this decision let me give you the reasons as to why we’re moving in this direction.
1. First of all it has become abundantly clear this is where God is leading. Perhaps way down the road, after we have all had some time to gain perspective on this news, I will share more on how we have come about discerning God’s call to this. But here today, I must simply tell you that God is clearly leading in this, and while we can’t see the full picture, I know we must trust God’s direction and step out in faith.
2. Ever since my late wife, Amanda, passed away, my attention and time commitments have been split between three things: (1) pastoring this local congregation, (2) leading efforts in our inner city to intercept kids and teenagers before they step into a life of gang-related and drug-related crime and violence, and (3) helping people all over the world find purpose in their pain. For quite some time we thought and hoped all of these could work in tandem but as the last three years have unfolded it has become abundantly clear that none of them have been given the attention they each deserve in order for each to flourish and effectively help people.
3. Kristi and I have noticed our passions have shifted. Please don’t hear me say we’re not passionate about you. In fact quite the opposite is true. We love you dearly. And in order to love you better we realize we need to step away as your primary shepherds. We have always desired to help you step into the ministry area that makes your heart sing, that is the unique and distinct calling God has built you for. We have come to recognize that in this next season Nothing is Wasted and ForIndy are those for us.
4. For a while we thought we could continue all three. But over the last year as we have begun the complicated process of blending our family, we have become increasingly aware that it is not honoring to anyone -- our family or our church family -- to continue to hang on to the notion that we are capable of doing all of these things well. Our family, You, ForIndy, and Nothing is Wasted deserve better than what we are capable to provide to all four in this season.
5. Lastly, as we’ve sought the counsel of many of our mentors, friends in ministry, and our staff, each confirmed this seems to be where God is leading the Blackburn family.
I share these things with you to help you understand this has been a heart-wrenching, painstaking, and very long process for Kristi and I. This decision was certainly not made emotionally, reactionary, or flippantly. Kris and I have wept. We have prayed. We have begged God for answers. We have sought counsel. We have double-checked and triple-checked in order to be sure of His direction. And over and over, The Lord continues to confirm to us: He’s calling us to step into a new season of ministry.
There are a number of questions you may be asking yourself right now, and I’m going to do my best to answer these with as much clarity as possible in the time that we have.
What does this mean for the Blackburns?
As far as we know we will continue to make Indianapolis our home and headquarters for this new season of ministry. Our heart is for this city and we would love to become major agents for revival, partnership, and restoration in our city. We will be taking the month of February to attend a three-week counseling retreat out of state to in order to focus on leadership and emotional renewal, spiritual growth, and the health of our marriage and family. At this point we’re not sure what kind of travel this ministry transition will require of our family, but Indianapolis will continue to be our home.
What does this mean for ForIndy?
Kristi and I are both very passionate about spearheading efforts in our inner-city. We will pursue forming ForIndy into a separate not for profit organization that will seek to unify churches and other organizations in our city, lifting people out of poverty and intersecting violence with the Gospel.
What does this mean for Nothing is Wasted?
Kristi and I will be giving the lion-share of our ministry focus to Nothing is Wasted and building it into a viable and effective ministry to help people navigate valleys in their life. Even though we are heavy-hearted about leaving Resonate, we are excited about the opportunity to come alongside local churches all over the country in this new endeavor.
What does this mean for you and me personally?
Being your pastor has been one of the greatest honors and privileges of my life. I sat in dugouts on baseball fields the springs and summers of 2012-2015 coaching many teenage boys and praying that God would use Amanda and I to bring them and their families into closer relationship with Jesus. And now I look out to our congregation on any given week and see the Winings, the Lattys, the Ellwangers, the Eriksens, the Lesnicks, the Hills, the Gessners, the Walsh’s and more, and my heart both wells up with joy for a dream fulfilled and also breaks knowing that our time with you as your pastor is over. We have had the privilege of seeing many of you come to know Jesus as your personal Savior, and I have had the great honor of baptizing many of you.
God is doing a tremendous work in each of you and I don’t believe He’s finished with that work. I hope He continues working in your heart & life, and we are excited to see how you step confidently into this next season with Him.
I understand this is heavy news and may be shocking to many of you. Trust me, we also feel a tremendous weight and grief about all this, and it’s ok to feel that way. Resonate Church and your families have played a very important role in our lives and spiritual growth over the last seven years as I hope we have in yours. Two weeks ago in my sermon I mentioned that the number eight is the biblical number for New Beginnings. In this, the eighth year of Resonate Church’s existence, God has a new beginning he wants to stir up in the Blackburn family. Our desire is that we will all look back on the seasons we had together in ministry and remember with fondness how God lit a new passion and desire to seek Him and serve His Kingdom.
In scripture the Apostle Paul reminds us that each of us are only a part of a person’s spiritual growth. He says, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.” Whether my family has been used to be a Paul or an Apollos in your life, it has been a great honor, and I thank you for trusting my family with that honor.
If you consider Resonate Church your home church and you’re wondering what’s next for Resonate as an organization, I would urge you to attend next week. John Berry, the interim lead pastor, will be sharing what the future will look like for Resonate Church and the spiritual community there.
Over the next few weeks we’ll be sharing more on the blog and social media about what Nothing is Wasted will look like as a ministry. I’m sure it will go through a number of evolutions. Our ultimate goal is to help people navigate their valleys and find purpose in their pain. We would love to do this in conjunction with local churches around the world.
We’re not entirely sure, but from the outset this will probably mean traveling and speaking to churches and organizations, continuing The Nothing is Wasted Podcast, and from there providing resources and services that help people walk through their valleys.
If you would like to follow what we’re doing consistently and/or commit to praying for us regularly, we’d love to ask you to subscribe to our email list. We’ll keep you updated on what’s happening with us and what God is doing in our ministry.
We also want to give you the opportunity to support Nothing is Wasted financially if you feel God leading you to do that. This will be a substantial undertaking and anything you may do to support it would be immensely appreciated. You can click this giving link to set up one-time or recurring gifts online.
It feels odd to be both heavy hearted about letting go of something you’ve started and excited about stepping into something new, but we have peace about where God is leading us. We're looking forward to beginning (and continuing) this journey with all of you!