Being that today is the first day of a new year, one can’t help but reflect on the previous year. For the Haglunds, it was a year of upheaval, and new beginnings.
The year 2009 began with a good deal of uncertainty. I had just left a comfortable position as the Director of Worship Programming at Dogwood Church, a position I had held for 7 1/2 years. God had called us out from a more “attractional” type of ministry to pursue more of a “missional” approach. In August of 2009, God had placed a vision of planting a brand new church and on the first Sunday evening of January 2009, the core group of browns mill church held it’s very first meeting.
The uncertainty surrounded how we would continue paying our bills, keep the roof over our heads and put food on the table. Leaving the secure for the unsecure was a huge leap of faith especially in the area of income. We cashed in what was left of my retirement–with the economic collapse, my 403b had lost nearly half its value. After paying taxes and early withdrawal penalties, we weren’t sure just how much we would have and how long it would last. I picked up a couple of side jobs–painting a new home some friends of ours were building and tiling and painting a master bathroom remodel job for other friends. I had sent out dozens of resumes for “secular” jobs (as opposed to ministry jobs) but the only job I could land was a commission only sales job with an IT services company. I took it but never made a dime!
At the same time, I began to sense that God was calling me back into vocational ministry. I was already in ministry–I just wasn’t getting paid for it! However, I knew I couldn’t go back to what I had just left. I wanted something more than just maintaining a worship ministry–a partnership in giving leadership to the transition of a church from a traditional “come and sit” model back to the mission Jesus intended for His Church–making disciples who live like missionaries in the world. I scoured the ministry job sites but it seemed like all of the descriptions were the same–plan services, lead rehearsals, blah, blah, blah.
Then, in early August of 2009, I received a rather cryptic email from someone signed “casual observer” telling me about a church in Corbin, KY, that would be a good fit. Fortunately for me, the guy’s name showed up on the “from” section of the email. A quick google search identified Allen Bonnell as the pastor of the aforementioned church in Corbin, KY. To make a long story short, we exchanged emails and phone calls, and two weeks later, I accepted the Worship Pastor position at Immanuel Baptist Church in Corbin, KY.
The upheaval part came when the movers came early in September and packed up all of our stuff and we moved out of a house we had poured so much of ourselves in. We had remodeled the whole house and it was such a wonderful place with so many great memories. It was so sad to drive away from such a wonderful house leaving it empty. The Tuesday after Labor Day, the moving truck arrived at our rental house in Corbin. The bare essentials were placed in the house and the rest of our possessions–still in boxes–were stacked to the ceiling in the garage (where they remain to this day, I might add).
Getting used to a new church is always a big adjustment. Each church has its own unique culture and way of doing things and it takes awhile to get in and learn about this new place. The same applies to a new town, and in this case state, too. We are still adjusting!
Here is the reflection part… 2009 has taught me to hold the things of this life loosely. We were privileged to spend 8 years in one of the most amazing places in the country to raise a family–Peachtree City, GA. The house we had suited us perfectly and it fit all our stuff (well, most of it!). What I am most thankful for is God’s activity in my life. I know without a doubt that He led us away from Peachtree City and toward Corbin, KY. I have a partnership in ministry that has eluded me my entire ministry career until now. My family is here with me and because of God’s incredible mercy, grace and provision, we are nearly debt free for the first time in our married life. It feels great!
We look forward to 2010 as a year of great potential as we continue to follow in the footsteps of the One who is leading us. It doesn’t look as uncertain as 2009 and for that I am thankful! God bless and Happy New Year!