Thursday, February 28, 2008

Stream of Semi-Consciousness

I told God that I wouldn't purchase any more music - CDs or downloads - until I had another job. Do they have a 12 Step group for Music Addicts? I'm serious...

Time is flying like never before. I can't even keep track of the days. Looking back at my eight years at PCC, I figure I've planned and led approximately 1,000 worship gatherings. Now I have 12 left. That's crazy.

I head for Boston next. I'll be there almost all of next week, just hanging out with the staff and congregation of a church there. I'm really excited to see what God will do.It's a really strange feeling to have no idea where we'll be living in three months. East Coast? West Coast? Midwest? Who knows? It was easy to romanticize this walk of faith before I found myself actually walking it.

There are so many movies I want to see right now. Luanne and I saw Into the Wild the other night. Really powerful and sad. Reminded me again of the power of community. As this guy was dying, alone and afraid, he said something like "Happiness must be shared." I couldn't agree more.

Larry Norman died on Sunday... Wow. He was a legend, no doubt. But I don't even know his music that well. I think the most significant song of his that I remember from my childhood is "I Wish We'd All Been Ready," which was later covered by dc Talk. Man, that song used to scare the daylights out of me. That was back in the day when my little Free Methodist church was playing the "end times" films on Sunday nights. (Who remembers A Thief in the Night and A Distant Thunder? I would lie in bed at night and all my mom and dad and then say "Never mind." I was just sure I would be "left behind" at the rapture. We'll leave that discussion for another time.) I remember a few other songs, too, now that I think of it: "Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music" and "Why Don't You Look Into Jesus?" Here's a video of Larry playing with my buddy Mike Roe. And, finally, here's NPR's 2-minute tribute.

Check out this church: Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, KY. I really appreciate their emphasis on community, their understanding of worship and their reaching out to the arts community in their city. How cool is The 930? That's the kind of thing I could get really excited about.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Searching for God's Plan...

Such a strange time. I feel free, and I feel a little bit afraid. But mostly I feel peace. God is in this thing, through and through.

This weekend we're in Sacramento. My family is here with me, and we're just hanging out with people from this church and getting to know them. Had dinner tonight with the Director of Operations and her husband and a woman who's been leading the worship team. It was great. I am not worried about "making a good impression," because I know that we're all in God's hands and He wants the best for all of us.

I'll be leading worship on Sunday morning. It's going to be so interesting. I've never worshipped with this group of people before. Their services have been described to me, but I won't know what they feel like until I'm there. I'm looking at it as a gift. An opportunity to love these people and to lead them in worshipping God.

It will be good to see what God's up to!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Humbled and Grateful

This email went out to PCC today. Yesterday you read my words. Today you can read my pastor's.

Good Afternoon Church!

On January 16th, during our weekly meeting, Matt Nightingale informed me that God was calling him away from PCC. His final Sunday with us will be on March 30th. As we explored the stirrings within Matt’s heart and the dynamics of his new calling, I found myself beginning to grieve, but in agreement with Matt that God was indeed bringing this chapter of his life and ministry at PCC to a close while God was opening a new chapter for him, Luanne and the kids.

I was overseeing Student Ministries when Matt first candidated at PCC. I was struck with the passion he brought to singing and the way he engaged our body in singing before the Lord. As we spent more time together in the coming months and years, Matt’s depth, competence and leadership backed the voice that has led us to God’s throne Sunday after Sunday.

I could fill pages chronicling the many contributions that Matt and Luanne have brought to our community, but I am saving that for his send-off party. Suffice to say, we are grateful to have had the privilege of witnessing Matt’s development and growth, and it truly is with high expectations that the Nightingales will be used in great ways in God’s Kingdom.

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Moving Forward

God is clearly leading us, as well as Matt, into a fresh direction of worship where we embrace new Sunday Gathering formats that minister to the unique heart language of our diverse communities we are called to serve. We have already started the moving forward process with the Council Officers; Barbi Hutchinson, Council Chair for Worship Ministries; John Seybert, Director of Operations; and Evelyn Johnson, Pacific Southwest Conference Superintendent for the ECC. The process looks like this:

1. Celebrate Matt and ensure a God-honoring departure.

2. Create an interim plan and structure that maintains our standards, values and serves the ministry plan for PCC in our worship gatherings.

3. Creatively and prayerfully develop the infrastructure that will best serve Worship Ministries for the direction God is calling us to for the future.

4. Seek the personnel called by God to serve Him at PCC through the newly designed structure.

We will not seek to replace Matt; he is too unique and his ministry was too impactful for that to happen. We will be seeking God’s new and best provision for the future He has for us. I am excited at the opportunities we have before us here at PCC.

In closing, can I ask you a favor? Would you commit to praying daily for PCC and the process to restructure and re-staff the worship department? Would you mark your calendars now for March 30th and plan on coming to our send-off celebration for the Nightingale family at 7:00pm?

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While we cannot tell with certainty the future God has for us, I can tell you that I am convinced that God has great plans for PCC that should cause each of us to drop to our knees in humble worship for the grace, power, and love that God has for PCC. I look forward to experiencing that future with you.

I Love Being Your Pastor!

Gary

P.S.: As we do with all departing Pastors, if you wish to bless the Nightingales with a love offering in appreciation for their eight years of ministry here at PCC, you will be given the opportunity at the celebration for them on March 30th.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Letter I Thought I'd Never Write

February 4, 2008

Dear Gary and PCC Family,

I am writing to announce my resignation. March 31 will be my last day as PCC’s Pastor of Music/Arts. It has been a tremendously fulfilling eight years here at PCC, and I have nothing but gratitude as I look back on all that God has done.

Luanne and I have great expectations as we seek God’s plans for our family’s next season of life and ministry together. We also have great peace. Even though we do not currently have a “next step” in place, we know that we are safe in the hands of our loving God, and that when God leads, He provides. Thank you for your support and prayers as we follow God’s call.

In the eight years we’ve been in the PCC community, we have learned and grown so much. We have learned what it means to really live in authentic biblical community. We have made friends that will last for a lifetime. We have grown in our marriage, our parenting and our personal spiritual lives. I have grown in my understanding and abilities in worship leading and pastoring. Thank you for your patience, your grace and the freedom to learn and grow.

We came eight years ago as a young family of four, and we have grown to a rowdy family of six! You have loved Joshua, Jacob, Emily and Zachary, taught them, mentored them, coached them, babysat them, laughed with them, made them welcome in your homes, prayed for them and modeled for them what it means to be part of God’s family. Thank you for loving our children.

Through Peninsula Covenant Church, I have discovered the Evangelical Covenant Church! I have been delighted to make my spiritual home in this wonderful denomination. I have been licensed, I have worked my way through the Covenant Orientation process, and I am well on my way to being commissioned. As a direct result of your generosity, I have been able to attend many conferences and classes, seminars and workshops. Thank you for your profound investment in my education and training.

You sent Josh, Jake and me to Mexico on the inaugural Family Mission Trip back in 2005. You sent me and other members of our Worship Arts community to Hungary and Romania last fall. Thank you for sending the gospel forth through us and for enabling us to experience firsthand the family of God throughout His world.

I could list all the events and special times I remember: Christmas in the Village, eight different Easter Sundays, Tim Zimmerman and the King’s Brass concerts, Beautiful Days, concerts, the Summer Ministry Project, Mercy CafĂ©, Good Friday tenebrae services, eight Christmas Eves, Zoom, Upward Basketball awards nights, Vision Sundays, 40 Days of Purpose… The list goes on and on.

I could list the people I have seen transformed, the marriages saved, the broken relationships healed, the terrible tragedies turned into peace and joy… God is truly good!

On a very personal note, I can say this: I am not the man I was when I came to PCC eight years ago. God has worked through many of you to shape me, heal me, free me and grow me. I am who I am today because of God’s powerful work through you. I will be forever grateful. Thank you for loving me.

Luanne and I trust our faithful God to take care of PCC in our absence. We know that as you continue to seek His ways, the best days are still to come! The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. (Job 1:21) And we trust that He is going to take care of our family too. He’s up to something really great, and we can’t wait to see what He will do in the upcoming months.

Much love and many thanks,


Matt Nightingale
Pastor of Music/Arts
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