So I’ve been feeling the need to clarify/justify/defend Mark leaving staff at RockHARBOR. When Mark first left, we got a few really random comments. A couple folks cornered Mark at church, demanding indignantly to know what happened. People came up to me and whispered, “I heard about Mark leaving RockHARBOR” in the same empathetic tone that they might say, “I heard your daughter has leukemia“. People have told us how sorry they are. People have asked if we are okay. People have told us, with side-hugs and shoulder-pats, that they are praying for us. This didn’t happen a lot, but just enough to be weird. Especially when we are exited about the transition.
But part of my need to explain comes from my own odd reactions to breaking the news. I guess in part because we have been witness to many people leaving staff on not-so-great terms. Unfortunately we have experienced friends stepping down from ministry due to indiscretions, personal fallouts, and poor lifestyle choices. This has been so common, in fact, that I find myself qualifying that those things didn’t happen every single time I tell someone that he doesn’t work at the church anymore.

It’s also surreal because Mark has been a pastor ever since I’ve known him. This photo was taken when we were engaged and he was preaching at a little church in Kentucky. I am also a pastor’s kid. Being in ministry has always been a part of my life. So saying that Mark left the ministry almost feels like I am saying Mark walked away from his faith. This is not the case, but somehow it feels like that when we say it.

So I’m setting the record straight. (as you can maybe tell, this is more for me than for you)

Mark is still in ministry. He made a healthy move to a ministry more suited for him. We love RockHARBOR. We still attend RockHARBOR. We are still tight with our friends on staff at church. THERE WAS NO DRAMA. Mark was on staff there for almost 10 years, and it was a great ride. But it was time for him to make his next move.

As RockHARBOR grew from church-plant to mega-church, it was inevitable that the pastors on staff grew less and less hands-on. There is no way the staff can be in relationship with that many people. The more members we had, the more Mark’s role shifted froma traditional pastor to a manager of volunteers who were pastoring. This is not a bad thing. It just didn’t work for him. He no longer had the time to do the things he loves to do – good old-fashioned pastoral counseling. Nor did he feel like he had the time to do what he’s most passionate about: being an awesome dad.

So he made a move away from the church, and ironically, he feels like he is doing more pastoral care than he has in years. His office is right across the street from RockHARBOR. They send him referrals. He walks over to the office to hang out during his lunch break. We go there for church.

It’s all good.