In May, I received this email at my church email address.
My immediate thought after reading this was "Sure. I know a couple guys." I clicked 'forward' and sent the email on to some folks I know. I thought that was the end of it, but God had other plans.
A week or so later, I couldn't stop thinking about it. I tried to convince myself that I should just ignore it because I wasn't looking for another ministry position, but God just wouldn't let it go. I was pretty happy with my full time job in industrial sales, and very happy in my part time worship leader position at Westwood. Why would God not get off my back about this? So I did something crazy. I prayed about it.
For some reason, God led me to send in a resume. There were a number of conversations, interviews, and lots of prayers over the next few months. The whole time I was praying for God to give me a clear sign about what He wanted me to do. I was also praying for clear stop signs if I was moving in the wrong direction at any point.
So last Sunday, I led worship at Northside Baptist and was voted in. Wednesday, I let our choir and praise band know of my decision. Friday, I turned in my notice at my full time job. And today, I tearfully shared what God has been doing in my life with the folks at Westwood.
Here's what I read to them today...
To my dear Westwood family,
In January of 2001, Kristi and I visited Westwood for the first time. Since then Westwood has not only been our church, you all have been family to us. That is why it is so hard to write this letter.
After much prayer seeking God's will, I am announcing my resignation from Westwood Baptist effective 2 weeks from today, Sunday September 8th.
I have accepted a full time position of "Minister of Music and Outreach" at Northside Baptist in Jasper. When I first heard about this open position, I immediately thought of other people who might be interested in it because I was not looking to make any changes. But over time, God would not allow me to stop thinking about it. Since then Kristi and I have diligently prayed for God to reveal His will to us and He has.
I am so thankful for the experiences, relationships, and ministry God has allowed us to be a part of here at Westwood. I feel like this church family has ministered to me and my family as much or more than I've ministered to the church. You were there for us for the birth of both Ethan and Gavin. You were there for us in times of loss, such as when my father passed away. You were also a key part, through every person involved in our Children's ministry, in helping to lead both my boys to accept Christ as their Savior. In addition to all this, the entire music ministry and our Sunday School class has been such a blessing to us.
I will always refer to Westwood as my home church and will always consider you family.
As my family and I head into this new mission field for us, I have 2 requests of you. 1) Will you support us in prayer and 2) will you do me the honor of ordaining me into the ministry, thereby agreeing with me that worship ministry is God's calling on my life?
Thank you so much for allowing me the honor to serve with you these past 12 1/2 years as a member and these past 9 1/2 years as a staff member.
I now know what Paul felt when he wrote
"I thank my God upon every remembrance of you."
With love for you all,
-Shawn & Kristi
The next month or so is going to be very emotional. I am excited about the new position. I am excited about what God is doing in my life and in my family. But I am also going to miss my Westwood family and fellow staff very much.
I'll likely be posting a lot more in the days to come, journaling this whole process. As I make this transition, I'm going to invite you to do two things..
- If you live anywhere near the Forestdale community of Birmingham, AL and are looking for a home church, you should visit Westwood Baptist. I can tell you, from 12 years of being a member there, that it is a loving and welcoming church that is worth checking out and getting involved in.
- If you live in the Jasper, AL area, come join me at Northside Baptist as I get to know that church family and we work to show and share God's love in that community.