a letter from elder matt orth

Hello Church Family,

I’ve spent the last three years working hard on the craft of writing, wrestling with words and seeking perfect sentences in the hopes of capturing my scattered thoughts and weaving them into meaningful stories…but typing out this letter has been the greatest challenge with words I’ve had to face. There is no way to lessen the shock or remove the burden that these sentences have been forced to carry…

It is with a heavy heart and mind that I announce to you that I will be stepping down from my role as elder and lead teacher at Broad River Community Church.

Before I share the causes of my decision, I want to be clear what reasons are not at the root of this change… 

  1. There is no scandal, no hidden sin or confession now coming to light. I am both deeply grateful and graciously humbled to be able to say that.

  2. There is no pressure from the other elders or a contentious faction in our congregation fueling my resignation. In fact, the opposite is true: I feel as loved in this church community as I have ever felt…and the past two years of “eldering” have been the richest of my time serving here as a leader.

  3. There is no greener pasture I’m bolting for…no bigger church or “better” opportunity. The pasture of BRCC has proven itself over and over to hold the highest quality sheep, grass, fences, and streams.

Traditionally, these three reasons cover most scenarios where a seemingly healthy pastor-church relationship comes to an end…

My reasons for stepping down aren’t quite as clear as the reasons why I’m not stepping down, but I will try to paint an accurate picture of why as best as I can…

 I’ve probably quoted the Lion King as often as I’ve quoted NT Wright so it is fitting that the most accurate summation of what is on my heart comes from the famous words of Rafiki, “It is time.”

At this stage of my spiritual journey, I realized it is time for me to focus not on nurturing the health of others but instead to focus on being healthy and whole myself. I’ve struggled with that concept, assuming it was selfish or a rejection of God’s call on my life, but it’s become clear to me that seeking rest for the sake of inner health is a God-honoring thing.

After a twelve and a half year journey of upfront leadership and guiding the experiment of BRCC, it is time for me to rest from that role. It is time to pass on the leadership to others because I’ve come to believe the gifts, energy levels, and overall wiring of others are not only ready but also a great fit for this next season of BRCC.

As we’ve talked about pruning this morning, I believe that I have been in a season of pruning for a long time, and this heavy decision to step down from leadership in BRCC is part of that pruning, one in which a good thing may be removed that I may be more fruitful. And I think the same can be said of BRCC: that the removal of my branch may seem destructive to the health of the tree, but my removal can lead to even more fruitfulness…especially when you imagine with God what other branches will grow to maturity in light of these changes.

I am unwavering in my belief that what we have begun in this place is good, true, and beautiful, and that we have seen the healthiness of what church can be…not that we are perfect but we are healthy…not that our church life is unique to us, but it is rare. Again, I am humbled by the grace of God that I can make these statements, and I am still amazed that twelve and a half years ago anyone would follow a couple of 29 year olds meeting on a patched piece of carpet in a fledgling coffeehouse.

It is in the context of BRCC that I have grown up in my faith. It is here in this kiln I have been tempered and made into a more mature follower of Jesus Christ. I do not doubt that any who seek to serve in this place and put down roots will find the same forging and the same fruits.

I can say that because I know the Spirit is IN you, WITH you, and FOR you…

As for what is in store for us and BRCC moving forward…

My last Sunday preaching will be May 22nd as I finish up the seventeenth chapter of John, a fitting passage to end on. Our intention at this point as a family is to travel recreationally some on the weekends, something that’s been limited in our twenty-one years of ministry leadership, and to stay in this Body and serve as needed when we’re home.

As for the leadership in teaching at BRCC, you most certainly are not left alone: we have a team of elders, leaders, teachers, but most of all, trusters and followers of Jesus who will guide us through the transition. They are also a team of gifted communicators that, in keeping with the spirit of our DNA, will be sharing the responsibilities of bringing God’s Word to God’s people.

We covet your prayers, your patience, and your involvement through this process. Feel free to approach me or other leadership with any concerns, questions, or encouragements. You are loved, most importantly by God, but also by me and my family. The words of John’s epistle ring true, I have not seen God, but in the fellowship of this Body, His love has been made complete…and visible.

As always,

Much love,

And grace and peace to you,

Matt O.