Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tim Woodroof

Following Brandon Scott Thomas and Scott Owings, on Sunday, Tim Woodroof, the teaching minister at Otter Creek Church of Christ, announced his resignation. July will be his 10th anniversary of his work at Otter Creek and he felt that it was time to move onto something else. If you want to listen to the announcement from Sunday, you can here.

Well, there are a couple of ways to look at this. Let's take it from Tim's perspective. Tim will be moving on to consulting with other churches and helping them navigate some of the waters that Otter Creek has navigated over the last 10 years. He will also be writing, as he stated on Sunday that he has 4 books that have to get out of him. I am incredibly happy for Tim. He is a man that I think will do very well at this type of work. Because of his book A Church That Flies, he has a strong amount of credibility in working with churches and counseling them. I really believe he's going to do very well at that.

The other perspective is Otter Creek's perspective. Tim's departure is not immediate. He will continue preaching over the summer in a part time role while developing his new work. But it does bring up a ton of questions about what's next for Otter Creek and what's past for Otter Creek.

Losing three ministers in 6 months strikes me as a pretty big deal. Otter Creek has lost ministers before, as have all churches. But it brings up a major question to me about the culture of Otter Creek that 3 ministers have chosen to move on. Is this a false cause-effect notion? Is it possible that all three have left for different reasons? Yes, it is, but in my mind, one is an anomaly, two is a pattern, and three is a problem. The remaining leadership needs to take a look at the culture of leadership and how the membership views leadership and the roles of leaders, and if there is something inherent in how we treat leaders that has been a catalyst for their departures. That's what's past.

What's next.... As I've said before, Otter Creek is really going to miss Tim, much as we have already missed Brandon and Scott. Tim helped guide Otter Creek's theology and caused us to think about many aspects of our faith. But, even in the midst of that and the sadness and disappointment that many feel about his departure, this can also be an opportunity for Otter Creek. This can be an opportunity for the entire church to begin thinking about a redefining of who Otter Creek is. It's very easy for a church like Otter Creek to get defined by what we aren't: "we aren't a conservative church of Christ."

This can be an opportunity for the leadership of the church to look towards the future, for the leadership to decide the kind of church Otter Creek can be and, rather than being satisfied with the status quo, dreaming about the influence that Otter Creek can have, not just within Churches of Christ, and not just within the Christian community, but within the wider community outside our walls. And once the leadership crafts this dream, this goal, they can then seek out someone who will help us achieve it as a community.

This could mean suspending our search for a worship minister for a time. In fact, I'm not sure that a worship minister candidate would want to take a job where he or she doesn't know who the lead teaching minister would be. If that needs to be the case, then that needs to be the case. But the ultimate goal should be to bring together a leadership team that will pursue the advancement of God's purposes for the world and for the ministry of reconciliation that God has called us to.

We all wish the best for Tim and this new phase in his life and his family's life and pray for his continued influence in the Kingdom of God and thank him for what he has done for Otter Creek over the last 10 years. It's a sad time, a time with some thought-provoking questions, but it also can be a great opportunity for Otter Creek if people are willing to look at it in that way.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

I listened to one of Tim's sermons the other day and my suggestion is to just turn into a Baptist church, I honestly couldn't tell the difference. As far as his delivery is concerned, I don't think the church there has lost much. HGe probably grows on you though.

Justin said...

Anonymous,

I attended OC for 5 years, and I can tell you that OC's theology would be completely unacceptable in a baptist church. And that's a good thing in my opinion.

What exactly made you think his sermon belonged in a Baptist church, was it just the delivery, or was it the message?

Better question, do you know anything about the theology of the baptist church?

Anonymous said...

Justin:

It was the sermon on baptism that reminded me of the Baptist church. In other words, an outward sign of an inward conversion, not really necessary but certainly preferable. I am very familiar with the Baptist since my mom was one for years and a lot of my relatives are.

It really shocked me that OC accepts as members unbaptized persons and even persons baptized as infants.

Ben said...

Thanks for the link. I didn't get to hear it on Sunday. As I mentioned before, the three ministers that announced their resignation at OC, did it while my wife and I kept Nursery on Sunday AMs. Is this grounds for getting off of nursery duty so no one else leaves?

Jim Voorhies said...

That's pretty hefty changeover in leadership and I tend to think it may point to some sort of unresoved issues. It sounds as if the process might benefit from gethering together people from throughout the membership and leadership to talk about where the church needs to go or what kind of church it ought to be and wants to be.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you could become Otter Creek Community Church or even Otter Creek Fellowship or maybe The Fellowship of Brentwood, or how about "The Former Otter Creek Church of Christ."

Justin said...

Anon,

The church of christ's position on baptism is wrong... but so is the baptist position.

When we look at salvation as a "he's in, he's out" you run into all sorts of problems about salvation being a free gift, brought by true faith, or one that requires action in order to gain salvation.

When we look at salvation in the biblical way, which is that salvation is a process brought about by learning to follow Jesus, not just safety from hell, things change. Namely, we stop trying to determine what is needed for salvation, but start trying to be a part of the movement of God in the world, that is, the inbreaking of the Kingdom. That is a process and it takes time, and there's not one certain moment at which one has done enough, because its not about that. Its about realizing the grace that was offered to you, and in turn, repenting of our way of life organized around the ways of the world, and becoming a part of the community of believers, who is supposed to be a witness to the evils of the kingdoms of this world. When salvation becomes a process of transformation, a salvation from a life that leads to death rather than a salvation from hell (which is not ever what the bible is talking about when it discusses salvation) then our whole view of these things changes.

This is why the baptists would loathe Tim and OC just as much as the hardcore c of c folks do.

Anonymous said...

Justin,

In all the examples of conversion in the book of Acts, I can't imagine them being given an answer like that. They would probably be very confused. In the language of today, "Say what?"

Justin said...

conversion is one thing, salvation is another. making disciples is not a 5 step process, its a lifetime one. you are confusing a point of conversion with salvation.

its understandable though, because our understanding of salvation, heaven, etc are so shaped by the greek philosophies of plato and others that we have trouble understanding it the way the first century christians would have. salvation was never about your soul being sent to heaven, its about the beginning of the earth being brought back to rights, jesus was the first of the resurrection... we also will be raised in body one day to an earth that has been renewed. Our salvation is that we know and have faith in this resurrection and can begin living life that way now, in the face of the evils that still exist.

Anonymous said...

So when did the big divide between conversion and salvation occur?

Are you saying that heaven will be just living on a renewed earth? I thought the earth would burn up. You seem to be saying that we aren't going anywhere when raised, just that the earth has been changed.

I understood that Jesus will not return to earth, we would join him in the air.

Amy Westerman said...

Interesting discussion of baptism in the comment section?!?! How did it end up on that? Anyway!

As a relative "newcomer" to OC-- within the past 3 years, I say this is an incredible time for Otter Creek! I am SO excited for what the future might bring.

I think we are just a church that is continuing to grow and mature-- and that can't happen apart from change and some discomfort. Otter went from a small church in a small building operating from a "small church" mentality to a big church with all that brings in a short amount of time. That is a ton to handle-- and yet-- even though a few key leadership roles have been vacated, the majority of members have stayed put though it all.

I love how loyal the body of Otter Creekers-- or stubborn might be a better word! :) I don't think anyone placed membership at OC because of the leaders-- which is unusual for most churches. Often it is some charismatic preacher/youth minister, etc. who brings people in-- or causes them to leave once he departs. Not the case at OC. I believe we are all there because of the amazing community of people/thinkers/activists/theologians, etc. I have never been at church where its members feel perfectly free to have opinions-- to disagree- to argue- and yet still find a way to get along and to thrive.

I think we will look back at this time one day and marvel at what a pivotal time it was in the church's history. We are NOT a typical church-- and I don't think any of us want to be. We want to be passionate pursuers of Christ-- and that isn't always a "pretty" or "easy" road to travel-- but I think we are on the journey-- potholes and resignations and all!

Thank God for Otter and the wonderful eldership whom I believe genuinely wants to honor the path God might show.

On a side note-- I think a good Tim replacement would be a man whose initials are MC! :) Let's get the movement going?!?

Brandon Scott said...

givin a big thumbs up to Jim Voorhies. That ought to happen.

Well written blog, Phil!

Thomas+ said...

I would like to comment on the anonymous post saying: "I don't think the church there has lost much." This anonymous person is posting from the outside, I assume, based on his/her saying "the church there."

How indefensibly arrogant to comment on the ministry of a pastor in this way. To listen to a sermon, not approve of its theology, and then make a remark about the entire ministry of this man is outrageous.

It would be as if I read someone's obituary and wrote to the family "your dad seemed to have a hard time holding down a job, so you haven't lost much." You have no idea how this transition will be felt by the members of OC. It will be grieved, celebrated, welcomed, and rejected. Some will be glad to see him go, others will leave the church, others will be sad but hopeful. Regardless of how they feel, it is theirs to process, and theirs alone.

I am not a member of O.C., though I have the great honor of knowing several of its members, including Tim. I would ask you to remember that Tim is a human being, a man who has poured his life into this community for a decade. Regardless of your personal feelings on his theology of baptism, you have no place to comment on the meaning of this loss.

Cara H said...

Re: Thomas - Very well said. In fact, I think your post reads like something Christ would have written. I am a former OC member now living in Canada and I follow Phil's blog pretty regularly. I am amazed at how the most sarcastic and often downright mean posts are made by anonymous people who it would appear don't even know the people whom they are speaking about. It's not constructive at all and not loving either! Once again, Thomas, thank you for bringing the discussion back to humility and love. Phil, thanks to you for blogging!

INMATE said...

Phil says, OC is definitely not a conservative Church of Christ. That's the understatement of the year.

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