It has been a crazy month. A happy-sad month.
The happy part? Kenny and I are about to begin a brand new adventure. And we are so excited about it. Like… super excited. But the sad part? Our current adventure is almost over. And we are really, really, going to miss it.
Okay, here we go. The news.
Kenny and I are leaving our amazing-wonderful-best-ever church in Buffalo, NY. Then we’re going to move a couple of miles south to Atlanta, GA. And then we’re going to join the amazing-wonderful-love-them-so-much team at Orange.
In three weeks.
With Orange, I’m going to continue doing some things related to small groups and small group leaders. Kenny is going to be doing some things related to the leadership development of ministry leaders. And we’re both going to be doing a ton of stuff related to middle school ministry. I’ll tell you more about the details some other time. But, for now, just know: we’ll be doing everything we love and more. We can’t wait.
So, you want to hear the story? Yes? Okay, I will tell you.
The Chapel is our church, and I’ve been in love with this place for twenty-seven years. For those of you counting, that’s my entire life. I’ve grown up there, I’ve volunteered there, and I’ve had the crazy privilege of leading there, too.
Kenny joined our church staff nine years ago when he was twenty-one and adorable and wearing skinny jeans every day. He was hired as the Assistant to Student Ministry, did a brief stint as the Creative Director for Student Ministry, and eventually became the Middle School Ministry Director. He’s been in that role for seven super fun years. But he no longer wears skinny jeans, which is unfortunate.
At the same time Kenny became the Middle School Ministry Director, I joined our staff as our Family Ministry Coordinator. I was twenty, we had just gotten married, and I didn’t know what the heck I wanted to do with my life, but I thought I’d give this ministry thing a shot. I stayed in that role for three years and I learned a ton. But then, four years ago, I had the opportunity to try out a new role on our staff. So I joined Kenny’s team to serve as the Small Groups Coordinator for Middle School Ministry, and it changed my life. I found my voice there. I found out what I loved and what I was good at. I got to love and encourage and lead alongside of the most amazing volunteers in the entire world. This role made me fall in love with ministry.
Then, a year and a half ago, I got an email out of the blue from someone at Orange, asking if I’d like to sit in on a brainstorming meeting about small groups. I assumed it was because I was way too excited about the book Lead Small – they probably just wanted to check me out and make sure I wasn’t a stalker. I also assumed this was going to be a meeting done through the wonders of technology, because I don’t exactly live down the street. But, nope, they meant in person.
So I went to Atlanta for a few days.
In those few days, we talked about small groups, a book they were dreaming about writing, and an app they were hoping could change everything for small group leaders. Three days later, I went home exhausted and inspired and so grateful we got to serve at a church that partnered with an organization like Orange.
I stayed in touch with my new Orange friends after that. Quick conversations here and there. An occasional text back and forth with Reggie Joiner, which always made me panic because are-you-serious-why-is-Reggie-Joiner-texting-me-my-hands-are-sweating-I-need-to-screencap-this.
Reggie asked me a few times if I would be interested in moving to Atlanta, and my response was always the same: “I would love to do some things with Orange if I can, but I don’t want to leave my church.”
So, last October, we found a way to make that happen. I joined the team at Orange, part-time, to help write the book that is now Creating a Lead Small Culture and to help with some other initiatives related to small groups. I would spend about a week a month in Atlanta, but the rest I would do from home. And I would get to continue working at my church – though I eventually dropped down to a part-time role there, too.
That arrangement worked for a while. I loved that I was able to be a practitioner at my church while also creating resources for other churches. It was hard, and I truthfully did feel a little stretched, but I really wanted to do both. So I hung in there.
I don’t remember the exact moment when I realized our time at The Chapel was probably coming to a close. But I do remember wrapping up one of my trips to Atlanta and realizing, I think this is where I want to be. I told Kenny that night, kind of hoping he would shut it down. But instead, he said, “Okay, let’s do it.”
What a jerk.
A month ago, Reggie asked me again if we might want to move to Atlanta, and this time I said okay. He said, “August 1st?” I said, “HA. Yeah right.” And Kenny said, “Why not?” (He’s the risk-taker of the family, if you haven’t noticed.) And since my only rebuttal was “BECAUSE I’M A WIMP”… August 1st, it is.
So that’s the story. The short version, anyway.
We are so, so, so excited. I can’t wait. The heart of Orange, the vision, and the people – oh my goodness, some of the greatest people on the planet work with Orange. We can’t believe we’re going to get to do life and ministry with them. Kenny just bought orange sneakers to celebrate. I’ve had to avoid all forms of social media for an entire month because it’s the only thing I ever want to talk about, which was a problem when it was also a secret.
But we’re sad, too. I cried for three days when we made it official. Kenny hasn’t cried since he was nine, but I’m hoping we’ll get a tear or two out of him sometime before we leave. (And if anyone can catch that moment on video, I will reward you.)
Leaving Buffalo and our church has been such a difficult decision for us. There has never been a moment when we’ve said of our church, “Good! Finally an excuse to get out of this place!” We love The Chapel. We love everything about it. Our years working and leading here have been the most wonderful, happy, exciting, challenging, fulfilling, BEST-EVER years of our lives. But we’re confident in the people we’re handing things off to. I’ll introduce you to them sometime. Probably after all the moving pieces have been settled. Because, you know, transition is crazy.
The decision hasn’t been easy. It’s probably the hardest one we’ve ever made. But we’re ready to take a risk.
So here’s to saying yes to the future, yes to doing more of what we’re sure God made us to do, and yes to a brand new adventure.
Thanks for all the love and encouragement so many of you have already extended to us. We like you so much. And we can’t wait to tell you more!