Jeff Cagwin is the Lead Pastor at Bridgepoint
Church in Indiana, but not for long. He recently resigned his
post to take on the Pastor of Discipleship role in the same church. I remember
Jeff from seminary because the day I bought an engagement ring for my wife in
2002, he and his wife tried to share the gospel with me in the food court of a
mall, as I celebrated my purchase over bad chinese food. I had to tell him I
was enrolling at Trinity, but I let him share with me for a while before I told
I have never met someone who has made
this move and stayed in the same church. I know some who have made this move
when leaving a church behind, but primarily because they could not find a
lead pastor role. Listen to how he processes the decision. He writes:
I sat across the table at
LePeep, over breakfast, with an old friend who was back in town to visit.
He posed this excellent question, half-joking, half-serious.
Who, indeed? Why, having arrived
at “the top,” would you aspire downward?
Why would I, a lead pastor, wish to return to my previous role as
pastor of discipleship?
Here are three reasons I sought to be,
in my friend's words, "demoted":
- It’s not a demotion.
The heart of this move has nothing to do with hierarchy. The elder team
and the incoming lead pastor (not to mention, I) have no interest in my being
disempowered. Rather, this is being done in a spirit of partnership.
Matthew and I will operate not in an authoritarian, but rather a gifts-based,
- It’s about being who you are.
I came to the conclusion (yea, the conviction) that I was being called away
from the lead role and toward a role that leverages my primary
strengths and passions. I function best in a collaborative
partnership, rather than as a solo leader. I can’t wait to work with
Matthew as I focus on what energizes me and what I do best in and for God's
- It’s time. I shared in a sermon recently
from a book that described a situation eerily similar to mine, about a pastor
of discipleship who stepped in when the teaching pastor left. They ask
how you know when you’re being called out of this “phase” back to your “base”
(primary gifting), and articulate what I've experienced:
“Generally, you will know ... (and you'll experience
less) energy ... peace ... joy ...Your thoughts turn to doing what you really
love and what comes naturally for you. Going back to your base ministry is
the only thing that gives you a sense of peace.” (Mike Breen and Steve
Cochran, Building a Discipling Culture, Kindle“location 1949”)
I’m glad my friend asked the question,
so succinctly. I’m looking forward to my promotion :-)
Is it time for a change in
role/responsibilities in some area of your life? If so, step out in faith. Go
This is quite a move by Jeff. Would you
be able to do the same?
Darren Carlson is the Founder and President of Training Leaders International. As President, Darren oversees the general direction of the ministry and serves as an advocate for pastors with little access to formal training and thoughtful cross-cultural theological engagement. You can connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.