Less than 48 hours ago I gave my final talk as the pastor, leader and primary visionary of theMILL (to watch or listen click here). It was a joy to lift up the name of Jesus, celebrate what God has done in this community, see so many familiar faces from over the years and a blessing to personally hear the ways that theMILL has impacted so many lives.
For the past eleven years the only thing I have known on Friday nights is theMILL and my heart has been with and for theMILL community and the college students and 20-somethings of Colorado Springs. To not lead in this context in the future is going to take some getting used to. Giving my last message and walking off the platform for the final time was most definitely surreal but it also signified a chapter in the Stern family story coming to an end.
I have truly loved this chapter. All day on Friday I found myself brimming with emotion and regularly on the verge of tears. I know I will be doing a lot of reflecting in the days ahead, but as I have thought about and gone through this transition, one thing is sure…my heart is filled with gratitude.
Thank you to theMILL community for giving me the privilege of leading you and walking with you. For bearing with me as I learned how to communicate and unpack the Scriptures. For catching the heart of God for the nations and being willing to go. For bonding together under any and all circumstances. You showed your true colors in the wake of scandal, corporate trauma and personal tragedy. I am proud to call so many of you friends. I will carry the memories of Village Inn, the Incline, Ice Bowl, Fall Retreat, missions, road trips and so many other times together in my heart. More than memories of fun times, I will carry with me the belief that a community can truly love God, each other and the world.
Thank you to New Life Church for believing in me and giving a kid who walked through your doors at 12 years old a chance. I grew up at New Life - not only physically, but also spiritually. I don’t consider this next step a separation but a multiplication.
Thank you to Brady Boyd and the elders for praying with us and confirming God’s leading. For sending us out and celebrating with us.
Thank you to my colleagues who have become friends who have become comrades. David Perkins, Glenn Packiam, Rob Brendle, Jon Egan, Ross Parsley, Jared Anderson…this list could go on and on. I don’t know who I would be without you.
Thank you to Jossie. You are amazing! I am so lucky. Your support, strength and encouragement mean the world to me. You have always been in this with me. You are a true partner in ministry and the love of my life.
Not only would I not be the person I am today without these people and many others I wouldn’t be where I am today without them either. The process of saying yes to this change and the planting of Mill City Church in Fort Collins was affirmed and confirmed through many people in so many ways. This process was a picture of the Body of Christ operating as it was designed, by praying, hearing and following the Spirit’s leading together.
All of this is a poignant reminder of the role that relationships play in our lives in the Kingdom of God. Relationships are not the end though, as highlighted by Jesus when he says we will leave brother and sister, father and mother for His sake (Matthew 18:29). Relationships do play a vital role in each of our stories which are then intertwinded with each other's and tied into God's story of redemption and grace. That is a privilege to be a prt of and so beautiful.
Even through the tears we are very excited about the road ahead. As God has gracefully closed this chapter of our lives He is kindly turning the page, and beginning to write something new, beautiful, and profound. Though there is a lot yet to unfold, Jesus is calling. We are following.