Sunday, January 04, 2009

Cardinal Drive Exit Letter

I was asked by the leadership at the church where we have been members and served in various leadership roles these past four years to prepare a statement that could be used to explain my exit and my future plans to the membership at Cardinal Drive . For brevity the leadership has decided to excerpt the statement in their presentation of it tomorrow. I let them know that they could direct anyone wishing to read the text of the statement in it's entirety to my blog. I value the many wonderful relationships we have made at Cardinal Drive and wanted to ensure everyone had the opportunity to read the full explanation behind this difficult decision.
January 04, 2009
To: Cardinal Drive Leadership & Members
RE: Resignation of Membership

After much deliberation and prayer I am officially stating our family’s decision to relinquish all leadership and ministry responsibility within the Cardinal Drive family. Christi and I both feel God is calling us to a new stage of ministry that will look different than the model of church most of us here are familiar with.

Taking this step is a very difficult one for me, I LOVE the church, and by the church I mean Cardinal Drive and the other the institutions like her I have been a part of. At her best these churches allow Jesus to shine through to the world. I have seen Cardinal Drive function as the body of Christ, and I have seen her serve as the very hands and feet of Christ.

Unfortunately, in my time here and in previous churches I have been a part of I have also seen the church be divisive, destructive, and down right anti-Christ. I have been deeply troubled seeing people who make large contributions be catered to, over those who have a much greater degree of spiritual maturity, and over those with Biblically authorized church authority. It is a tragedy that people suffering under the weight of marital issues, addictions, and moral compromise have far to often been belittled, dismissed, and abused rather than embraced, mentored, and discipled. Most troubling to my spirit is having repeatedly seen families suffering financially be treated like pariahs because the distressed the homogeneous social network of the organization.

None of these things make me love the church any less. However it does compel me to attempt an objective examination of her model of ministry. This examination has led me to the conclusion that the church's two greatest obstacles are SIZE and FORM. Both of these conclusions have brought our family to the place where we are moving forward to a model that is deeply reflective of the model of church life as seen in Acts, the model of meeting in homes daily. A church that meets "house to house" by nature is small and spry. It can react quickly and effectively to problems (fiscal, emotional, and spiritual) because it's intimacy makes it impossible to hide or to ignore these basic needs in each other. This model by it’s very nature becomes a fiscal, communal, and continual pursuit for it’s members. The close intimacy of the house church becomes a safe place to invite friends who would never fit in at, or otherwise would not attend a traditional church service. The small size and apparent deep relationship relieve the awkward stigma of visiting a church service. For some people outside the social atmosphere of church life the comfort of a home based community is a much more welcoming place to discover the abundant life of freedom in Christ.

Secondly on form, I think our style of stage and audience is destructive to the priesthood of all believers. I myself have been part of the problem where people feel there are those qualified to "DO" God's work, and others who must just support the doers. Another world is possible where Instead EVERY member has a function and each part forms together to benefit the others. A house church meeting looks different where every member becomes a conduit of the Spirit’s leading, and through discernment and mutual edification everyone becomes ministers to and for each other.

I believe the highest calling of the church has nothing to do with our buildings, our staff, or our membership roster. The highest calling of the church has to do with effectively reflecting Jesus, and corporately becoming his physical presence in our circle of influence. I personally feel led to make this calling a reality, so long as God leads us to remain here in Chicagoland, through the intimacy a house church enables.

I want it to be clear that I am not leaving Cardinal Drive out of any anger, malice, or any form of discontentment with any of my brothers or sisters at this church. It has been an honor to worship with you these past four years, and I value the relationships we have formed in many of your lives. I sincerely hope our families can continue to share life together. I am excited for the future of what God is doing at Cardinal Drive, and It is my hope that you are excited about the potential for what God is doing through our decision to plant a small house church that reflects a different model of being the body of Christ.

I do want to reiterate that our family will miss the fellowship we have had in many of your lives, and I want to let you all know that our home and our table is always open. If you want to sit down and talk more about what we are doing, and what this model looks like, we encourage you to come eat with us when you have the time. We serve an amazing God who is doing great things as he reconciles his creation back to himself! Let’s all participate with him in vigor to that cause.

In Christ,
Kevin, Christi and Family!
To anyone at Cardinal Drive who has additional questions or just a desire to talk further about this exciting step we are venturing out on, please feel free to call or email. I love and value each of you, as well as the many who have supported me in this decision through the blogging community.


Erin said...

Yea, I can see why they chose not to read the whole letter.

I am so impressed that you guys are walking this path. There is a cost to your decision (as there would have been a cost to stay...), and few are willing to make it.

Peace to you. And I continue to be so excited to see what is ahead for your family :)

Elysa said...

Wow...bravely honest...but with grace. I love you guys!!!

Praying for you all this morning...including the folks at Cardinal Drive.