Pastor Dale Thackrah has accepted a new call to be the Executive Pastor at Redeemer Bible Church (read more about that here). This post is his farewell letter to our congregation.
Dear Redemption Gateway,
I have had an opportunity in the past several weeks to reminisce about my time here at Redemption Gateway and all that God has taught me. While I could write hundreds of thousands of words regarding my gratitude, respect, and love for this church and all of the things I learned, I instead will attempt to briefly share what I think were the most formative lessons during my time here:
1. Preaching isn’t just about sharing knowledge with the church. The motivation behind each sermon needs to be love for God, his church and the lost people of our community. I learned this by watching our preaching team prepare, pray and study each week. They are consistent and persistent in their hopes that their preaching changes lives.
2. Good leadership development is holistic, not just focused on theology proper, but all of life, starting with character, not just giftedness. I learned this by watching leaders press into relationships and getting to know people rather than just ‘plugging’ people into critical ministry slots.
3. Healthy church growth occurs through the ingestion, digestion and replication of healthy spiritual practices. The consistent discipline of study, teaching, preaching, counseling and prayer, produces what matters most for Christians in this world: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). I learned this by watching our team faithfully grind out each of their ministry days.
4. For the follower of Christ, there is not a secular/sacred divide. All of Life is All for Jesus. I learned over the years that this isn’t just a marketing slogan for Redemption Church, this is at the very core of the leaderships’ beliefs.
5. Staff culture impacts the entire church. Healthy staff relationships matter. I learned this by being on this great staff. Honestly, our staff is made up of some pretty average people, like me, but the culture allowed us to do some pretty significant things in a very short time span – all by God’s grace.
6. The enemy never tires of trying to infiltrate the church. He is persistent, so we need to be even more so. I learned this in my role as elder and in the counseling room. The enemy looks for even the smallest cracks and tries to exploit them to bring dissension and division into the Body of the Christ.
7. Healthy church leadership isn’t obsessed with the numerical size of the church, but instead focuses on the breadth and depth of spiritual maturity of the people that God has already brought to us. I learned this by watching our team consistently press into creating environments that foster maturity in our people.
8. My true identity is not found in my job title or in my successes or failures; it’s only found in the person of Christ. So, thank you Luke Simmons and Matthew Braselton for always reminding me of this truth, I will always be grateful for your leadership in my life in this area.
9. The authority of the pastor is only defined and granted by the parameters that are revealed in the Scriptures. Authority should not be an expression of the a given pastor’s desires and/or preferences.
10. Relationships take time and the offering of mutual grace and respect. That can’t be microwaved. Ministry can break down without a proper investment in building relationship.
11. We never move away from our need to be reminded of the gospel. The good news not only ushers people into the Kingdom of God, it propels believers into their spiritual maturity.
12. Looking like a Pharisee is much easier than the effort it takes to be a disciple of Christ. Being satisfied with only being informed about Jesus falls short of the call to be formed by Jesus. I learned this by watching my coworkers’ vulnerability and honesty with their own sin and faith struggles.
I’m leaving Redemption Gateway a better man than when I arrived. I’m a better husband, father, friend and pastor because of the formative lessons and experiences I’ve learned here.
While I’m exiting my role as pastor/elder at Gateway, I’m incredibly thankful that I am not leaving any of my friendships behind. The very men and women who have helped shape me here, will continue to have a role in my life – I will always be loyal to this church.
In closing, my hope is that God will continue to bless this church beyond anything He has already done. I’m confident as the leaders continue to focus on their relationships with Jesus and one another, that the best days of Redemption Gateway lay ahead.
With my gratitude, respect and love,