Investing in Family
A Time of Transition for Creekside Church
Today in church Katie and I announced a huge transition in our life. The Lord is leading us to begin the process of looking for full-time employment in the marketplace. The unique thing about this transition is that our family has every intention of staying at Creekside and continuing to use our gifting in various capacities. Often when pastors transition, they go to other ministries, or they retire, or they step down due to moral failure. This is different.
We are terrified and excited.
We are terrified because we do not have income lined up, no prospects on the horizon, no clear model to follow for our path forward. This is all unknown. We are nervous because paid ministry is our life and, in many ways, our identity. Our kids have only known me as Pastor, and they feel they are losing a piece of what makes them unique. I feel the same.
We are excited because it’s in times of faith that Katie and I have experienced God most intimately and miraculously. We know he will care for us in ways immeasurably beyond anything we could ask or imagine.
This was not a decision made lightly. We prayed and wrestled with God’s leading in this direction for many months. There are many reasons behind this decision, some of them personal, some philosophical, but all spiritual.
Personally, I’ve been at Creekside for nearly 13 years and serving as the Lead Pastor for 10 years. The Lead Pastor role is emotionally taxing, and honestly, there are portions of my role that I’m too emotionally exhausted to continue. It feels embarrassing to admit, but it’s the truth. It’s just hard to care so much, for so long, about so many things. I need to replenish my emotional energy, and I long to rediscover what it means to use my gifts as a peer, not a career.
Philosophically, I feel like my role has become a stumbling block to the very mission that God called me to 15 years ago: “to equip the saints for the work of the ministry.” In our current American culture, all we really know is the lead pastor model of ministry. But that is not how the first churches worked; they had several strong leaders sharing the load. As I shift my role, I create space for new leaders to emerge.
In addition, by stepping down, I free the church from the need to support my family. The elders have cared for me well over the years, but my kids are getting older, they are getting more expensive and our personal budget is getting tighter. I simply don’t feel right about continuing to need more and more money to sustain my role.
I also think my salary can feed the distrust our culture has of leaders, pastors, and churches who pad their pockets at the expense of helping the poor and needy. In fact, the apostle Paul spent most of his ministry self-employed as a tent-maker for this very reason. In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul writes that though he is entitled to receive financial support for his work, he chooses not to be compensated so that those who hear him preach will know that he does so with pure motives. (Acts 18:1-4; 1 Cor. 9:15-18).
For all these reasons, my role will immediately change from Lead Pastor to Teaching & Transition Pastor. Mark will become our Interim Lead Pastor, and Lisa will remain Executive Director.
As my family makes this big transition, I hope you see more than ever that this church is truly a family. Roles in families evolve and change over time, but bonds, purpose, and mission don’t. The last decade has included some of the best and most fulfilling years of my life because the people in this church are so incredible. I look forward to what the next decade holds as we continue to invest ourselves in things that matter.
We love you all,
Ryan & Katie
A LETTER FROM THE ELDERS
Dear Creekside Family,
I have been serving on the elder board since we affirmed Ryan as our lead pastor nearly 10 years ago, and I am encouraged to see that even in this transition, Ryan is leading both his family and our church to a place of greater health and faith. Ryan has always had a heart for the lost and the deep desire to proclaim the good news of Jesus to others. Although he does not know specifically what God’s plan is right now, he is stepping out in faith. As elders, we know that God will honor that step and will use Ryan’s gifts and talents in tremendous ways for His kingdom. We are equally confident that God has significant things in store for Creekside, things that matter!
And while this is a very exciting time for both Ryan and Creekside, I know firsthand that changes in leadership can be uncomfortable. It can bring up feelings of surprise, shock, sadness, concern, or even confusion over what this all means. In my 31 years at Creekside, I have seen a lot of change. Some of it was difficult, but all of it has been the clear result of God’s desire to lead both individuals and His church to better health and a greater proclamation of the gospel.
Change in leadership creates an opportunity for God to raise up new leaders that are needed for the new things God wants to do in and through our church body. When God sent Ed Grover to become a lead pastor in Oregon, God provided Mark Beuving to help spearhead the creation of Gospel Communities. When God sent Justin Cosgrove and his family to be missionaries in Mexico, God created an opportunity for Creekside to make a deep and lasting impact on the poor in that country. And even when elders such as Jon Pray, Scott Mehren and Scott Schofield stepped away from the board, God has given them a greater role in their families and other ministries.
I am so encouraged that Ryan and his family plan to continue to use their gifts and talents here at Creekside even after this transition. And while his role will change, his value to our church family will not. The MacDiarmid family will continue to be an important part of our Creekside family, just as the Cosgroves, Prays, Mehrens and Schofields are.
In the meantime, I want to assure you that Ryan, the church staff, and the elders are all working together to ensure that this transition will be good both for Ryan’s family and for our church family. Here’s how you can help with that:
PRAY – Pray for Ryan, Katie, and their kids. Pray for the church and its leaders. Pray for our staff. Pray specifically and regularly.
REMAIN – Continue to be an important part of our Creekside family as we work through this transition together. During our last transition in 2009, nearly every family committed to remain for a period of time, and many are still here today. Remaining helps to keep our family on mission together and gives time to discern the next steps for Creekside.
PARTICIPATE – Engage with the Elders and the leadership team; we need to hear from you. Also, consider where you might be able to use your talents and gifts to help in the transition.
The Bible shows us that God loves and cares for us, has good plans for us, is in complete control, is with and for us, and that the best is yet to be! What an exciting time to be a part of His family at Creekside!
John Risoen, firstname.lastname@example.org
on behalf of all the Elders, email@example.com
Mark Goudy, firstname.lastname@example.org
Daniel Lowndes, email@example.com
Ryan MacDiarmid, firstname.lastname@example.org
Boyd Robinson, email@example.com
Sean Traynor, firstname.lastname@example.org
Drew Walton, email@example.com