For inquiring minds, here’s the story behind my decision to move to Atlanta and join the staff of Peachtree Presbyterian Church.
A Personal Vision, Deferred
Genesis tells the story of Abram of Ur, who at a ripe age was called from a comfortable home to an unknown future. God showed Abram an amazing vision, but took him through some detours to get there. Although Abram couldn’t see it at the time, he couldn’t get to God’s vision from where he was. He had to go on a journey. So, Scripture tells us he did the only thing he knew to do – he got up early and saddled his donkey. He trusted God.
Two years ago, while still operating Midnight Oil Productions, and working part-time as Creative Director at Trietsch Memorial UMC in Flower Mound, Texas, I was inspired by a ministry vision. I called it a “Regional Creative Arts Ministry.” I wrote a 14-page document describing my vision. I shared it with my boss at the church and my business partner Jason Moore. I told Jason the vision was where my life was headed, and I needed to change my relationship to Midnight Oil Productions, the company we had built together.
As 2010 progressed, and my relationship with Midnight Oil began to end, my vision didn’t begin. I was confused and a little freaked out.
As it turns out, I needed to go on a journey.
That fall, longtime friend and publishing mentor Paul Franklyn called me with an amazing offer – come to Nashville as Senior Leadership Editor at Abingdon Press. I accepted, and set the previous spring’s vision aside.
My work at Abingdon has been great fun. Part of me wondered if I was to become a publishing “lifer.” I love building things, learning, and writing, so in many ways the job has been a great fit. Another part of me, though, has wondered about a future back in the local church. I could see God activating my increasing leadership knowledge by calling me back into the field. Even so, I thought such a move might be 3-5 years down the road.
A Church Vision
While I was busy exploring Nashville, a church in Atlanta was dreaming big. A community of several thousand, Peachtree Presbyterian Church already has a highly skilled staff of communication professionals. But they wanted someone to stir the drink. They imagined an executive level storyteller and strategist who could communicate the vision and mission of Peachtree – someone with creativity and a broad skillset but ultimately a team leader rather than a specialist. Uniquely, the executive team of the church understands communication not as a tactical or support activity, but as a strategic driver of ministry – in worship, onsite, online, and in the community. They were eager to fund a leader’s vision and needed someone with the skills to do it. For a person with respect for the historic churches and a passion for creatively communicating the gospel, it is a dream position.
Peachtree put out an ad for a “Chief Communication Officer” on January 11, 2011 – exactly one week before my first day at the United Methodist Publishing House. Of course, I didn’t know of the position, because I wasn’t looking.
In March of 2011, I got a call from friends at Vanderbloemen Search Group on the church’s behalf. Honored, I declined, and repeated myself two months later when they called again. In August, when they called a third time, I began to get the picture and agreed to meet with the church.
In spite of my commitment to the work at Abingdon, God surprised me. Slowly, I began to envision the future of the church and the role compelling communication might play in its ministry. By March of 2012, I could no longer deny the stirring in my heart. The church had not found a solution elsewhere, and it became clear to everyone involved that God was calling me to Atlanta.
So, in what is perhaps the most discerned decision of my life, I have decided to leave an amazing job and the denomination of my entire life to journey with my family (again) to a new land. And I have never felt more at peace with what comes next.
When God comes calling, maybe it’s best to assume you have no idea what path your journey will take. That’s okay. As I am learning, you only have one task – get up early and saddle your donkey.