I figured I’d get straight to the point. This summer, the Conley family is moving to Gilbert, AZ to begin a new adventure! Pretty cool, right?
Chidlrensministryonline.com was just a year old when I became the first NextGen Pastor at Gateway Church in Austin, Texas. Eight years at Gateway inspired nearly two thousand articles on this site as I wrote about the things I was learning, doing and working through. What a blessing it’s been to have a place to record inspiration and a community to learn and grow with here.
Eight years is the longest I’ve served in any one role. I certainly recommend it. There are things that I’ve experienced with tenure that you don’t get being the “new guy” no matter how good you are. The eight years here haven’t all been “awesome” and they haven’t all been easy, but I wouldn’t trade a single experience. I’m so incredibly grateful that this church took a risk by hiring me those eight years ago. Sure, I was a Children’s Pastor with over 10 years of experience – but with little experience leading student ministry. The landscape was pretty barren, with only a handful of nextgen/family pastors to lean on and learn from. So much has changed in the last eight years.
It probably took 4-5 years for me to finally become comfortable in my role. Since there were so few people to learn from, so much had to be figured out by myself (not a recommended course). Regardless, I couldn’t be any more proud of what I’m leaving Gateway. I have the best staff I’ve ever had that I love like family. I’d be bold enough to say that I might have one of the very best NextGen teams in the country (I’m telling you, they’re pretty amazing)! There’s never really a great time to leave, but if I had to pick a time, this would be it. The NextGen staff and volunteers have the DNA. They’re focused on creating environments where kids want to be and putting amazing adults and teenagers into the lives of kids and teenagers. Also, parents are being equipped to be the parents their kids needs. A beautiful thing is happening at Gateway and I’m so grateful I got to be a part of it. NextGen at Gateway has by no means arrived, but they know what needs to happen to get there. I’ve done what I needed to do and I close this chapter feeling satisfied.
Resigning from Gateway was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. Austin is literally one of the most AMAZING cities in the world. Gateway Church’s unique mission and strategy to reach unchurched people has been such a breath of fresh air for us. My NextGen staff, they’re the most amazing people I’ve ever gotten to work with. I hand picked every one of them and going to work every day is such a joy when you get to work with people you love. How do you resign from that? Why would you resign from that? I know, that’s what has made this so difficult.
Tomorrow, I talk about the how and why. I’ve never had more clarity about what I’m supposed to do with my life and stepping into this new chapter of ministry is certainly a part of that. Tomorrow I’ll unpack where we’re going and why I’m so excited about what God is doing in our lives.
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