An Announcement Regarding the Thorngate Family
After careful consideration, prayer, and counsel, Pastor Jon Thorngate has decided to step off of LifeBridge staff at the end of August. The Thorngate family plans to stay very involved at LifeBridge. Jon is shifting career paths, and this is the driving force behind the change. Below are thoughts form both Jon and Pastor John Adams regarding the change, as well as audio of a conversation that they recorded, processing through the change.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask! There is no drama or conflict surrounding this decision, nor is there private anything that cannot be shared. Thank you!
From Jon Thorngate
There isn’t one reason that I’m stepping off staff. As often is the case with big decisions, there are several reasons which blend together. But for the purpose of clarity, I want to share 3 of the big ones with of you.
- Since starting LifeBridge, I’ve learned about myself that I’m an initiator. I love starting things, especially with other people. I love this as a way to build the Kingdom of God in the context of rich community. But I’ve also learned that I’m not a maintainer. And LifeBridge has entered a season that, for however long God has us here, doesn’t need a “me” on staff. That said, I’m also not a church-planter. I don’t have plans to ever start another church. Rather, I feel called to continue planting THINGS here, in Burlington. This church was the first thing I helped start, and it remains a top priority for me and my family. But there’s more building and creating to do outside these church walls, and I’m energized to go do it.
- I believe in our leadership vision: to be church family, not church INC. I still feel a strong call to kingdom ministry: to worship, discipleship, and mission. I also still feel a strong sense of calling to our community. I believe that I can continue in that calling by serving, leading, and participating in the kingdom and in our church without the title of “Pastor.” I plan to continue on the worship team, leading a circle, and leading a ministry team. Most of the changes to what I do will only really be noticeable behind the scenes. To me, this doesn’t feel like quitting, because I’m still committed to this church and church family. I understand that this might be confusing for some, but I’ve never led because of a title or job description. I’m still called to be a part of LifeBridge, to share the love of Jesus with the people of Burlington, and to lead others.
- I want to give others the opportunity to take ownership and lead. For most of our church’s life, I’ve been involved in virtually everything, and the time has come for me find a lane and serve in it faithfully. While I’m excited about it, it won’t always be easy for me, and I’m asking for your grace in the coming months, as we imperfectly process and implement this change.
This is a decision I’ve wrestled with and even fought for a while. It’s not being made in a rash manner, or without careful consideration and prayer. The conversation started with my counselor in January. By mid-May, he had helped me arrive at the conclusion that the time had come. I told John the next day, and told staff and elders shortly thereafter, and we started the process that brought us to today. I don’t have another job lined up, and I’m not leaving for greener pastures. At the same time, I do have a plan for earning a living, and don’t want anyone concerned about that. There is no scandal or secret drama here. I’m not upset or at odds with anyone. This is especially true of Pastor John. We trust John and the elders to lead us, and I feel great about the staff team that we have in place. We love this church, we love our church family, and we aren’t going anywhere. Thank you.
From John Adams
For the first 8 years of our church Jon has led LifeBridge with vision, wisdom and character that is worthy of honor and respect. Planting a church is not an easy task but Jon led us in this process with a heart to honor God and advance the Kingdom here in Burlington. We are incredibly grateful for what he has done for the church and we continue to look forward to what he is doing through him for our church and Burlington in his new volunteer role.
In this transition and new season for LifeBridge I see a number of opportunities for our church:
- As Jon steps into a volunteer role there will be more opportunities for others in the church to employ their gifting and calling in our church community. We strive to be an Ephesians 4 church where the pastors equip believers to do the work of ministry (Eph. 4:11-16). In our church culture, however, the default mindset is for the pastors and staff to do the work of ministry. To help us grow closer to an Ephesians 4 church we have been on a path to minimize our staff and ask everyone to contribute in their calling for a while now. This is another step in that direction.Pray for God to lead you into your ministry at LifeBridge and in our broader community.
- This will accelerate opportunity for our spiritual growth to be disciples and worshippers first. We then do out of our being and worshipping. In the early stages of this spiritual growth it will require us to do less and learn to be with God and worship God. A while back I challenged the church to be as excited about discipleship as we are about a building campaign. In this season we have an opportunity to invest our energy in the less flashy but more fruitful Kingdom work of discipleship.Commit to sitting with God and being a disciple and worshipper first before you do.
- Finally, we have an opportunity to demonstrate Christ’s love in how we handle this change. Jesus tells his disciples that the world will know they are his disciples by how they love one another (John 13:35). This applies to how we speak to one another in the midst of change. In this process, determine to…
- Assume the best. Don’t fill in the blanks of your understanding with the worst possible motive.
- Communicate questions clearly. If you don’t know something, ask. We are happy to answer any questions you have.
- Don’t spread rumors. If you don’t have the answers refer people to me or the elders.
- Allow room for mistakes. We won’t handle this transition perfectly but we are going to do our best to honor God in this new season of our church’s life.