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Steve Mickel: A Church Like Antioch – Announcement of Pastoral Transition

May 23, 2023

Audio Recording

In Acts 13, the Apostle Paul and Barnabas are sent out of the church he co-pastored in Antioch. Although the church sent them, these leaders would return to Antioch as their home church.

New Endings for Old Stories Sermon Series at Westside Church
New Endings for Old Stories
Steve Mickel: A Church Like Antioch - Announcement of Pastoral Transition
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Sermon Transcript:

:00 You're listening to a live recording from Westside Church in Bend, Oregon. Thanks for joining us.

00:06 Hey, everybody. It's good to see you guys this morning. Welcome those that are watching online as well. It's wonderful to have you here today. Today I wanna do three things, three things. I wanna look together at a model church, in the book of Acts for us as we continue in a series through our, through the book of Acts. two, I wanna speak about a major transition that's happening in our church. And three, I wanna apply that model church to the present situation that I want to discuss with you. So let's pray, Jesus, as we open your word today, would you, illuminate by your spirit what you want us to see, what you want to say, how you want us to respond to your word, that our hearts would be open, to your revelation, in this moment. we pray in Jesus' name, amen.

00:56 Yeah, every Bible turn to Acts chapter 13, and, it'll be up on the screen as well. And I, I'm gonna look, we're gonna look at the church in Antioch. This is a really interesting church. It's one of the most healthiest churches that we, that we have in record in the New Testament. Paul never had to write a book, correcting the church in Antioch like he had to do with Corinth and some other churches. It was, it was a healthy, a healthy church, and it was, it, it, it was consistently healthy. Matter of fact, the Antioch, if you're not familiar with it, it was the first, place that Christians were called Christians, was in the church in Antioch. That's, that was kind of what they were known for. they were, they were kind of the people that defined for their community what it meant to be a Christ follower.

01:42 And, and they also were the first church that gave to the church in Jerusalem. when there was a regional fa regional famine that happened. the church in Antioch was the first to respond. So it was a generous church. it was a church that lived the way of Jesus like no other. And, and there's a few things about this church that I want us to kind of highlight, as we think about, this next season of Westside Church. First Antioch was a shared leadership team. Look at chapter, 13 verse one. Among the prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch of Syria were Barnabas Simeon called the Black man, Lucius from Cyrene, Manan, the Childhood Companion of King Herod Anus and Saul. And one day, as these men were worshiping the Lord in fasting, the Holy Spirit said, dedicate Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I've called them.

02:34 So after more fasting in prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way. I dunno if you've ever noticed this about the church in Antioch. I've, I've read through the book of Acts many, many times. I've never really stopped to consider that there were five people on the leadership team at the Ant Church in Antioch. it was like we have here at Westside, a shared leadership structure. Matter of fact, the church, the early church, that's what they did. today, our, our, our model is quite unique. most churches in the, in, in, in, around the world are led by one person, typically a male. And we, we've dec we decided that we need to be a shared leadership. And what, there's, there's room in the scripture for that. matter of fact, that there really, the solo, kind of solo pastor thing didn't happen until around 300 ad I mean, the church was built around shared leadership.

03:29 Paul often, when he wrote, he wrote to the elders of a church. And so there was this, this idea of, of collaboration and shared leadership. And Antioch was no different. it was led by a shared leadership team. The second thing that we see in this passage is that Antioch was ascending church. They appointed Paul and Barnabas two of the five, leaders of that church, to send them out to do a new work and a new assignment. And, and I love that it was in response to the leading of the Holy Spirit. It wasn't these five leaders kind of, oh, what should we do today? It was like the Holy Spirit came and visited them and told them, this is what I want you to do. Set apart, Saul and Barnabas for the work that I've, I've prepared for them. matter of fact, one of the primary ways that the early church prayed, you could, I I I we're doing a, we're gonna do a series on prayer later, in, in the next month or so, and we're gonna go through the book of Acts.

04:24 One of the things, we're gonna kinda look through the book of Acts and see what kind of prayers they prayed in the Book of Acts. And one of the types of prayers that consistently they prayed what I call commissioning prayers. Prayers where they would lay hands on people, and that the Holy Spirit would, would send them out through the laying on of hands of the church. And it was a beautiful, just this, this prayer and fasting. And then the Holy Spirit would, would speak, and then the church would respond by sending. And you see this pattern begin to happen in the, in, in the church in Acts. One of the primary works of the Spirit is in the early church, was sending people into mission. On every page, you'll see the spirit of God sending his church to do his work in the world. It's, it's in, it's the acts of the Holy Spirit.

05:11 Remember we talked about that? It's the acts of the Holy Spirit through the apostles as he sends them. And then also, another pattern you'll see is that the Holy Spirit is at the top of the org chart. , you know, as a church, we have an org chart. Did you guys know that? We, we don't, we don't put it on display. We don't let you show who see who's in charge and all that kind of stuff. But we have an org chart. the Holy Spirit isn't on it. And I've yet to find a church's org chart where the Holy Spirit is anywhere on it. Now, we, we would know, of course, the Holy Spirit is in the church, and he, but there was a sense in the early church is actually one of the things I'm doing my dissertation on, is how the organizational design of the early church had the Holy Spirit at the top of the org chart.

05:51 He was the leader of the church. He was the one speaking and sending. And, and, and, and I'm strategizing. And the, and the apostles and the disciples are just kind of these people going, yes, Lord, help us to be obedient. Help us to walk according to your word, according to your way. And so this, this idea there was just throughout, throughout the, early church, and then the last thing we see with Antioch is Antioch was the home base for Paul and Barnabas on their missionary journeys. I love this. So through, there's three, no less than three times through the Book of Acts where Paul goes back to Antioch, as he's, as he's doing his missionary journeys, he always finds himself back at this church because it was a healthy church. It was a church that sent him out, but it was a church that, that embraced him, when he came back for rest and refuge.

06:41 And, and, and as he ministered outside of that local church, and as Paul ministered to the greater body of Christ, there was a sense that this church Antioch, was home for him. It was his home. he wasn't the senior pastor or even one of the senior pastors. He was part of the body, but he ministered outside of that particular body. And this church in Antioch can help us navigate the transition that is before us. tomorrow, Suzanne and I celebrate 30 years of marriage. Can you guys believe that? Yeah. Yeah. Thank you very much.

07:19 30 years. I've lasted 26 years longer than I thought I would. . It's amazing. Thank you, Susie, for sticking with me. And for 30 years, Suzanne and I, from the very, very beginning, we've been like this, Jesus, do what you want, when you want, how you want, whatever, we're yours. And, and so what resulted in that was a transition. Every two to five years, God likes to move people, man. He likes to, he likes to shake things up. He's never sitting still. And so we would, we ministered in different places for like every two or five years we were moving. So when we came back to West side in 2007, we were like, we, we were, I mean, I, I just, I, I got real with Jesus. I said, I said, Jesus, would you please, would you please let us stay? And I put a time timeframe on it.

08:18 I said, would you please let us stay until my youngest son, his name is Spencer, graduates from high school and that, and I just like, Jesus, please, you know what I, he said, yes. I was shocked that he said, yeah, you can stay. I was like, that's a new one. I haven't heard that one before. And it was like this, ah, thank you, Lord. And so we got to stay. And Spencer graduated high school last year, and Suzanne and I didn't wanna say anything about this kind of thing, right? It was like, let's not tell God. Let's not remind him about this deal. You know, listen, maybe he forgot, you know, . And, and then two and a half years ago, two and a half years ago, I sitting in a board meeting. So I serve, on our, national board for our denomination four Square.

09:08 And I was just, I was just starting kind of my five year term on this board. This was two and a half years ago. And the, and the new president, his name's Randy Remington, he pulled me to the side kind of out of the blue, and he said, Hey, Steve, would you ever, think about being a district supervisor, which is, we have, we have six supervisors that oversee six different areas of our nation as a four square. And, and so he asked me, would you ever consider being like, no, . I actually said, hell no, but I'm not sure. I was supposed to say that in church . I'm not sure I was supposed to say that to the president of our denomination either. But that was literally, I mean, like knee jerk, like no . And and he was like, he was kind of taking it back, like, oh, okay, . And so later that day, I was in the hotel and I was just kinda sitting there kind of doing some study, and the Lord like, swooped in. And I remember vividly, he said, oh, so this is how it is. Now you're making these decisions.

10:13 And I, and I'm like, well, you don't, no, no, we're in this together, you know, but I, you don't want me to do that. I know, you know, but it was like this convicting like, like when did you start, Steve? When did you start making these decisions for yourself? So I felt convicted. So I didn't go back to 'em and say, Hey, Randy. Yes, I know. And I was like, no. It was a thing between me and Jesus. So when Randy called me three weeks ago, I knew the answer would be no . But I had to pray about it. I couldn't, I couldn't. He was like, hell no, you know, I couldn't say that to him again. I was like, okay, I'll pray about it. When he asked me to be the district supervisor. So I had to at least pray, but I knew the answer was going to be no.

11:02 So I asked a few close friends in the leadership team here to pray with me and Suzanne. And the very first moment that I started to pray, God did two things simultaneously that I actually don't think is physically possible. But it happened consistently a few times. I immediately started grieving, like immediately I was just praying about, I wasn't even like deciding, I was just like praying about whether God wanted me to. But immediately there was this, like, this sense of grief, heavy, heavy grief. Simultaneous to that was this sense of rejoicing. And I don't think those two things can live in the same human being. I'm pretty sure I'm a psychopath now, . But it was like this, and it can, and it kept happening. Grief and rejoicing, grief and rejoicing. And I knew, and I knew that God was calling me to grieve the ending of one season and rejoice in the beginning of a new one. And I felt in that moment that I was grieving both for myself, but for us as a church, as all, and, and at the same time rejoicing for myself and rejoicing for us as a church.

12:26 So we said yes to the Holy Spirit's call. And on July 1st, I will transition out of the senior pastor team to become four squares Northwest District supervisor, which is overseen about 280 some churches in seven states from Alaska to North Tacoma, North Dakota, and Wyoming and everything in between. Sorry. Are you glad I'm leaving? I don't understand what the clap, what the, what's the applause for? I'm kidding. I'm kidding. Thank you. so how does this Antioch Church inform this moment for us? Because this is not just my transition,

13:20 This is a wholesale, redefinition in a sense of who we are as a church and what we will live into. And so I think about shared leadership. Can you imagine the impact if Antioch's only pastor was Paul, how his departure would've affected that church? How it could have changed its dynamic and its mission and its DNA and the sense of sense of vision and, and future that they were leaning into. And, and, and, but it, but it didn't, Paul wasn't the only senior leader in that church when he left. And it continued to be one of the strongest churches mentioned in the New Testament. And that's partly due to their commitment to shared leadership. Did you catch their names? Cuz we don't talk about them very often. Barnabas, we know, right? He went with, with with Paul. But what about Simeon and Lucius and Manian? These were, these were three other leaders who stayed in the church in Antioch when Paul and Barnabas left. And they, and they, and they brought strength continued to bring strength to that church vision, to that church future of that church. They were there when they sent Paul and Barnabas, and they were there after Paul and Barnabas left.

14:47 And I'm really, really proud of how this church has embraced shared leadership. It was a foreign concept when we proposed it a couple years ago, two and a half years ago. It was like, what? That nobody does that like we know, but we gotta do this. This is Jesus. And we had no idea then that this would be happening. Now, I thought I had five to 10 more years. God remembered the deal. Dang it.

15:16

15:19 So many churches, and I talked about this when we, when we, when we launched into shared leadership, so many churches put their hope in a person rather than in Jesus. And even now, some of us are feeling that tension is our hope solidly based in the, in who Jesus is, in the mission and vision of this house, regardless of who one of the senior leaders might be. We place you guys, I I talk to pastors all the time. We place unhealthy. The church places unhealthy expectations on those who shepherd them. Nobody can live into that without this eventual burnout and a sense of grief over their inability to meet the expectations of their congregations. And so, rather than making West Side about me, or even about Ben and Evan, we've made it about our mission and envision to extend the life and love of Jesus to our world. And it doesn't matter who's standing up here

16:26 Because it's his church. And the Holy Spirit's at the top of this org chart, he's the one leading us and directing us and guiding us. And he will continue to do that through Ben and Evan. See, we've made this church about Jesus. He's at the center of this thing. His spirit is at work in us and in this church. And every transition, listen, every transition, like this is an opportunity for us to double down on that reality. That I'm not here because of Steve or Ben or Evan, or I'm here because Jesus has called me to this house, to this people to par par, partake and contribute and, and, and see what God can do through me in this space, in this place.

17:12 Over the past two and a half years, I've been handing off more and more leadership and oversight to Ben and Evan. Most of you don't even know that, the leadership team would laugh when if like, well, Steve, you're not really doing anything anyway. You know, I mean, I mean, I'm doing stuff, but you know, it's like I've been handing off. I mean, they've been leading at a high level for a lot longer than you probably realize. Not even the, like last seven years when we instituted shared leadership. They've done a great job leading the church. I believe God's grace is on this next season. I sense God's pleasure in it, both for Ben and Evan, but the entire, our entire community. And here's the bonus, here's the bonus. I will be Evan and Ben's boss, .

17:58 I'm so happy, I'm so happy about that. I actually think I'll have more authority in their lives than I do right now. , I'm joking, but I'm not joking. I will be there. But the I and, and not only that, I'm gonna get to this in just a second, but I get to have a continued vested interest in coaching and mentoring them as they lead this church with you into the future. And I'm not going anywhere when it comes to my influence in their lives. All right? The second thing is ascending church. nobody in this room knows this, except for maybe five people. Did you know that I'm the third district supervisor to be sent from this church? Yeah. Wow. Cliff and Mary Haynes were sent in 1986 and Ken Johnson became the supervisor in 2005.

18:53 I'm like, what? That's amazing. It's in our dna. But then you go beyond that and you think about Pastor Bo Stern Brady, who is right now the intern pastor at Beaverton Foursquare. As they're going through a pastoral transition, I think about Mike Alexander, the former executive pastor on staff who serves as a vice president of a global humanitarian relief organization. We are a sending church. We can't help ourselves. We don't plan it , but God does it. And we say yes, do that in us. I could just go down a list of people that are serving Jesus in other locations, even in Ben, in other churches that have been sent from here intentionally sent by us. But we don't like it, do we?

19:40 I don't like it. Do you like it? I mean, it's, it's hard. It's hard. The sending his heart. We like to keep what we value, but it's in the giving, it's in the sending, it's in the sacrificing that the spirit of God can do a new work in us, both in that which is sent, but also with in those that send, you know, sometimes transitions like this can feel like they're happening to us. Like nobody asked my opinion. Do you you feel that way? Right? It just like this is happening to me. But when you look at the church in Antioch, and when you look at really any of the narratives in the, in the New Testament, you see that the transitions weren't happening to the church. They were happening through the church. God was using the Holy Spirit, was using the church to do what he wanted to do. Paul and Barnabas leaving Antioch wasn't something that happened to them, but through them as a work of the spirit, they saw it as part of their mission and vision as ascending and resourcing church. And I hope you see this as that for you. And the third thing I wanna mention is a home base. My first question to Wendy Nolasco, who's, the general supervisor of Four Square. So on the org chart, she's the second one on the top from the top. And she is the person that I will report to. And you get to meet her in just a moment. But when she asked me to serve in this role, the first question I asked Wendy was, can I stay in Bend?

21:14 And she said, yes. Yeah, yeah. I mean, bend is great, but whatever,

21:25 Talk

21:27 Seriously. I'm not all about Ben. Like some of you guys are like, Ben is the best over there, you know, it's, it's a great city, don't get me wrong. But I get to stay here. You'll be, my Antioch a place where I can come after being on the road and ministering to pastors and caring for them and carry, helping them carry the burden of pastoral ministry. I'll be able to come back here and sit in the back and worship with you and serve with you. And I'm just so really happy about that last thing I'll say. And then I want, I'm gonna ask Wendy, Evan, and Ben to join me up here. And I want to challenge you with three things. Here's the first one. Embrace Ben and Evan as your senior pastors in the same way that you embraced me.

22:25 Well, I don't like them speaking as much as I like your speaking, Steve. I don't give a cred about that. That doesn't matter. Who cares? It's not about that. It's a consumer oriented thinking. It's like I come here to get from these pastors. It's like, stop that. Embrace them as your pastors who love you and care for you and want the best for you and are praying on your behalf and are coming up here and preaching the word because they want to see life transformation happen in your life and in your family's life. Give them the same devotion and love that you've shown to Suzanne and me. Don't hold it back. They're as much your pastors now as I have ever been. Second challenge is I want you to embrace a sending mindset. It's so difficult, and I know this, it's difficult moving into the future after we've been through so much together. It's really hard. I get it. But God is doing a work in me and in this church that requires each of us to step into a new season of sending and releasing, even seeing ourselves as ambassadors of Christ in our context, seeing ourselves as sent by the Holy Spirit into our workplaces and in into our schools and into our neighborhoods. Seeing ourselves as sent by the Holy Spirit

23:53 To have this kind of sending and releasing mindset to let go and allow God to move. And when we do that, it will create space in our, in our lives for the Spirit to God, spirit of God to move in new ways. And then the third thing I wanna challenge you is to embrace the vision and mission of Westside. I know you're here, people who have, I've heard you, you've even said this to me. I'm here because of you, Steve. Maybe you've been part of West Side because you find some affinity with me. I mean, I am the best speaker of the three of us. We all know that , we all know that it's okay. We can, I can acknowledge that , but, and the bond that we feel, because of the death of my son that many of you walked with us through is real. And and I'm not asking you to replace that to Ben and Evan, but what I am asking you is to, rather than follow a man, follow a mission, follow a vision of a, of a place that so desperately wants to minister the love of Jesus to this community, follow that, follow the person who's in charge of that, the Holy Spirit who's leading us and guiding us. Let embrace the vision and mission of West Side instead of being the primary reason that you're part of West Side is one of us. Let the primary reason that you're part of this church be what God is doing in this church and through this church.

25:48 All right, everyone take a deep, deep breath. And Wendy, Evan, Ben, would you guys, join me up on the stage And I actually have no idea what they're gonna share. So, so you guys, Wendy will start. Can you guys welcome Wendy and Alaska? She's such a gift to us. So thanks Wendy. Thanks for being here. Speaker 4

26:10 Well, good morning. It is such a privilege to get to be with you this morning and I bring you greetings on behalf of four Square and Steve, don't run away. Come back. I'm just gonna say, okay then I'm gonna move this way. I have so much respect and regard for your pastors. For all three of them I've gotten to spend some time with them. But Steve in particular, you outlined the call of who we are and that includes you as a community, as a church, as followers of Jesus. That our life is not our own primarily because we did not buy and pay for it. Jesus did. And so when we said yes to following Jesus, we said yes to a life of obedience, which means that we move where God sends we go when he says go. And as I was listening to Steve talk about you and your part in this story and the other supervisors that have been sent from this community and the DNA that you may not even be aware of, that you're a part of, that you've been sewn into, grafted into spiritually by way of your yes to this place. Speaker 4

27:18 Cuz I firmly believe that this transition isn't just about these three men that are standing up here, but it's about you two that even right now that the Holy Spirit has already been prompting your heart and speaking to you about what it is that God will be calling you into into this next season, beyond the baseline of loving and committing to your future pastors and to this church. But I believe that God is releasing leaders here in this house that you have been sensing for some time, that you've been coming and you're a part of West side and you've been serving and you've been participating and that you know that this is your church home. That there's a stirring and maybe you've been kind of ignoring that stirring and it's time for you to say your yes as has been modeled so well for you by Steve and Suzanne in their yes. Speaker 4

28:08 And so we are anticipating that there is going to be leaders that are gonna be rising up. There's gonna be new pastors that'll be called forth new church planters that'll be called forth new missionaries, sending workers that will be called forth new people that will be commissioned to the marketplace to serve right here in this community. And as Ben and Evan and I got to talk last night alongside of your church council, they are ready to receive your yes. Because you see this is about a community and not about a person. Yes, Steve and Suzanne are saying yes to a new assignment and they will be sent into this new assignment. And we are so thankful for that. I have such high regard for who they are, but this is as much about what God is doing here in this season amongst us all. And so as we are gonna be talking about what will be coming next, and as Steve has said yes, and we are working through a transition with Ben and Evan and with Westside. Speaker 4

29:07 And I know that today has probably left you with some feelings. We wanna say, we give you permission to grieve, to be sad, to mourn the loss because Steve is beloved. Suzanne is beloved, but like they said, they get to stay here in Bend and they get to be planted and rooted in their home church. They're Antioch, they get to stay in their home and that is such a gift to them. My husband and I said yes to a similar call that they're saying yes to five years ago. And we uprooted our family, we moved across the United States and we said yes to an assignment, yes to a call, but we left our entire community, people just like you. And it was so tough. It was so, so tough. And it is such a gift that you get to be sewn into the blessing of the future of this church. Not only under Ben and Evan's leadership as they step into a new assignment, but also sewing into the sending of what will happen through Steven Suzanne's life. Every church, every church planter, every nation, every worker that they get to minister to and participate in, you also reap the blessing of because it's us. We are a people on mission together. So would you help me? Did y'all wanna say anything? Speaker 3

30:27 Speaker 4

30:28 Fantastic. . I was gonna move right into prayer , however I thought, you know what, these guys are standing up here. I bet you they wanna say something too. Speaker 3

30:39 Speaker 5

30:40 Yeah, we're not the best preachers, but we can talk for a second, I suppose. , you're good preachers. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. , you said you were Speaker 3

30:51 The best. Yeah, I Speaker 5

30:52 Did. We are, Speaker 5

30:55 want to empathize with all of you right now. if it, if this feels sudden and, quick and all that. Steve referenced a little bit of the timeline. It was probably only about a month ago that Steve brought up in passing when we were spending social time together. A few people have thrown my name into the hat. He said, for this job, for this supervisor job, but in classic Steve Nichol style, he kinda laughed it off and said, that's not really something I want to do. And I've said no before. And, then only a few weeks ago, he said, good news. They put me on the panel to interview these people, which means I am not going to interview for the job. so things are gonna stay the way that they are. And then a couple days later he said, actually, I am interviewing for the job. And we said, who asked you to interview? And he said, the president of the denomination. And we said, how many people are interviewing? And he said, one . And then he said, but this might not happen. to which I blocked his number from my phone after that . Speaker 5

32:03 Steve referenced a group of people that say We're here because of you. And I would count myself among them. There was a time not that long ago that I despised the leader that I had become and made a decision in my heart that I needed to move on to do something else. Because the version of myself that I saw in leadership that had become bitter and manipulative and angry couldn't exist here. But I saw another way. And that was through Steve. So if you're grieving today, so am I. And I want to invite you into the process that I very much am in . And that is not an eagerness to replace or fill a gap left by Steve Nickel, which can't happen in classic, Ben Fleming style. I thought of that. The movie, the Sandlot . Or at the end, after these boys have played baseball together for so long, it says, and then one by one we moved away or we grew up, but we didn't replace them cuz we couldn't. But we kept playing. I find it impossible to replace the legacy of this man. And I will grieve deeply Speaker 5

33:38 As will my whole family. And we will at the same time. And I want to invite you into all this, to continue to walk forward in the vision that we as a collective have created, not just as senior pastors a leadership team, but as a church and a family together. The vision will not see some dramatic change or rebranding because of a shift in leadership. One of the greatest gifts that I believe that God is offering to all of us is that we have built this together and we will continue to build it together. That's right. So I wanna reaffirm what Wendy had said, that we get to do all of this. We get to weep and grieve and mourn and celebrate and be confident that's right. That what lies ahead of us is a beautiful thing. Why? Because God is in it. Not because Steve or Ben or Evan, or even just because West side is in it, but because the Holy Spirit moves with us through these times and these seasons, Speaker 6

34:45 Steve, we're there'll be plenty of time to say nice things about you. So I don't, I don't wanna say too many nice things or too nice of things about you, but , it really has been the joy of my life serving, beside you and under you, for this decade plus of my life. And, I have a deep affection for both of you. Not a functional working relationship only, but a deep affection. and I know the church, I know you guys are feeling, probably that affection for Steve, well up for many of you, know that we feel that too. But it doesn't just extend to you, Steve, Ben, I feel a deep affection for you. we've worked together now years and, there's a, a friendship and a brotherhood that, that we share, that I am, I'm so happy to be able to give that as a gift to this community. Speaker 6

35:43 with Steve's transition, it shifts leadership, not in title. Ben and I will continue to be senior pastors, but it does shift something in that we now are stepping into a higher level of leadership in this house. No doubt. But it doesn't just affect us, as you've heard from Wendy and Steve and Ben as well. this is a moment I think when all of us are being called into a higher level of calling influence leadership that might scare you. But, but it means influence in every, every area and facet of this community in our neighborhoods and our families. There is a, a stepping up that I think God is calling us to in this moment. And when we first heard the news that this was going to happen, there's a natural response, I think, to the calling of God that feels a lot like insecurity. Speaker 6

36:35 And I think that's normal. And so I was, I was wrestling through this as probably you're wrestling through it right now. And, I I went back to the Old Testament. I was thinking through leaders called, by God whose first response was insecurity cuz that's what I was feeling. And I thought of three classic examples. Moses, Gideon, and Jeremiah. And they have different reasons for feeling insecure. Moses says, I can't speak Gideon says, I I I I'm the least in my family and clan. And Jeremiah says I'm too young. And in all three of these situations when, when these people responded to the calling of God with insecurity, God responds with the same exact five words. I will be with you. That's right. And I want to say this, you may have insecurities or fears or uncertainties about what the next season of West Westside looks like. Speaker 6

37:29 And I I don't want to ever stand up here, alongside Ben and make promises and oh this is, this is what it's gonna look like and this is how everything's gonna work out. Cuz cuz we are on a journey following the Holy Spirit into the future. And so there's a lot we don't know, but I know this, I know that the love of God is for people and I know there's a lot of people that God has set us in the center of in this community to do what we've always done and what we will always do, which is to express and extend the furious hope-filled, extravagant better than we hope for kind of love of God that is for all humanity, especially those that are broken. And I hold on to those five words that he will be with us in that process. And so I think my commitment, Ben's commitment to you as our, our church, our family, our, our community that we love so much, is that if we are committed together to expressing that kind of love of God for this community that we've been planted in, we will continue to faithfully show up for you. And I hope that you'll show up too, cuz this will be a lonely place without you. So, I want to invite Wendy back to, to pray. Speaker 4

38:38 Thanks guys. Speaker 4

38:45 I'm a guest in your house and I wanna say thank you for welcoming me in and I'm gonna invite you to do something physically, because there's moments like this where sometimes when you move your body physically, it helps to align your heart and your soul spiritually. And so there are postures that we take that aren't super special or magical, but they actually just help bring congruence in us as we are processing our own feelings. So I'm gonna ask you to extend your hands forward, as we pray. And I'm gonna actually invite, Ben and Evan to pray over Steve. normally I would do this by way of my function and my role. However, your context is really unique and I think it's important that you guys do this. So would you lead us in this prayer? Speaker 5

39:36 Father, we start with thankfulness. Thankfulness for, the time we have, as long as also thankful for the time that is yet to come, that we get to continue to have what a gift it is that Steve remains in our community, our city and our church. And we pray that his gifting as it remains here with us in this capacity for a few more weeks and goes out to so much the rest of our nation Speaker 5

40:06 And we pray that he would have the strength and the courage to continue to maintain that vulnerability, that incredible fire of the Holy Spirit that comes out in such a fatherly, pastoral, loving and caring way for that is the thing that has changed our lives and we believe can change the world. So why it's, while it's tempting to embrace this moment and feel like we have, we have, are experiencing extreme loss, Lord, the gift that Steve Mickel is to the rest of this region will have a profound and dramatic impact on the spread of a very true, wonderful, loving gospel. And God, we thank you in Jesus name. Speaker 6

40:50 Jesus, we just pray. Let your Holy Spirit fall on Steve. we just, we just ask Holy Spirit rest heavy on this man. We are fully expecting, in the days ahead that you have, seen the end from the beginning. You have have gone before Steve into, the next assignment, the next appointment. at the same time you have not, moved him into this place without knowing what you were doing here. And so we, we are grateful for these many, many years we have had, with Steve shepherding and pastoring. And so now, Lord, we pray from this point of, of, of real strength and humility that he would go into a new appointment in a new season, not under his own strength, not with just, good ideas and, and smart strategies, but in the power of the Holy Spirit completely filled with your presence and your grace. Speaker 6

41:46 We pray that the conversations he has, the decisions that have to be made, the appointments that he will make, will be saturated and soaked in the presence of Jesus through your Holy Spirit. It is no mistake, Lord, that we have been, just spending this season before we even knew just talking week after week about the work of the Holy Spirit and the expansion of the church. What we didn't know. You have known Jesus and you have sent us to this moment for this purpose. And we believe Jesus, that you are in the midst of this. We don't have to make that up. We don't have to spin something, we don't have to hide anything. We are following you with eyes wide open into a future that you have set before us. And we pray, that Steve would have the strength and the grace and the peace to step in fully in Jesus name me, right? Amen. Amen. Amen.

42:36 Thanks guys. Thanks Wendy. Thanks. Thanks. Well, you'll get to do all that again, June 18th doing this, my last, actual last Sunday. So I expect you to do that again guys. No , . I was gonna make some bromance joke, but if you, it's some inappropriate, there's a lot of, there's a lot of love up here. It's genuine.

43:17 We're gonna take a moment and partake together of the table and as we finish our service today, and, and I, this word just kept resounding in me as I thought about this moment, and this the word family. What's amazing is that this very thing that we're about to do in partaking of the the cup and the bread, was in the con the first time that, the first time that happened, it was the night before the night that Jesus was betrayed and the, and the church scattered. And then when Jesus was crucified, they scattered. There was this like, like they weren't, they weren't, they weren't family. They were as far from that as you can get in that moment. And now this is the thing that brings us together as family. It's the body and blood of Jesus poured out for us. It's the thing that that attaches us to one another that binds us together.

44:14 His love for us symbolized by this amazing sacrifice. And so just a moment, the team's gonna lead us in a song and we're gonna take the, the elements. There's tables, throughout the sanctuary, whichever one's closest to you, you can just get up where you're seated. Go and take that with, just keep that in mind. There's doing this as family, the body of Christ. Yes, we're gonna partake in the body of Christ, but we are the body of Christ. There's a sense in which we are together in this moment. And and if you're not able to get up from your seat, their ushers will go around and they have individual elements that they can get to you if you're not able to come forward to one of the tables. and I encourage you to, if you're able to, to come forward as a demonstration of this togetherness that we need, that has sustained us for many, many years together, that we would continue that togetherness under the umbrella of the death and resurrection of Jesus. And so, Lord, we come to your table as family, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, fathers and mothers

45:33 Bound together by love. Would you hold us together? Not because just of our commitment to be with one another, but because of your commitment to us and the shedding of your blood and the brokenness of your body that binds us together in Christ, one body, one savior, one Lord, one Church united together in you. Jesus, we love you. Would you stand with me? And as the team leads us in the song, feel free to, go and take the elements.