Many of you have had the chance to meet John Donahue who we hired 3-months ago as the new (and first) Director of Ministry operations. I met John through the Innovative Network of Churches network I am a part of once a month. John also was volunteering at a friends church down in Tampa called Common Ground.
At the time Linda, who was our very first employee at the Suncoast, had moved to California. She was a do it all kind of person and we had to fill her shoes along with some other key roles that I needed to get off my plate and some areas that just needed some leadership. Rita, our children's director at the time also was looking to make a change within the church so she jumped over to Linda's old job and so that role needed to be filled now too. We hired John hoping to get to know him over a 90 day period and see how good of a fit it was here at the Suncoast.
This morning after a lot of painful, gut-wrenching thinking and praying it has been decided that John should no longer be a part of the Suncoast staff now that the 90 day probation period is up. This was not an easy choice because no one wants to ever do this, and it was not a quick decision made on some spare of the moment thought. We care about people and this is not just some giant corporation who hires and fires every week.
John and I both love Jesus. We both love HIS church. We both want to see people come to know Christ. We both want to see people take their next steps with God. AND, we both love our wives and families... so if you are looking for dirt there is NONE! Really, there is no dirt, there is no secret back story, there is no moral lapse, there is no hard feelings it just came down to this:
It just was not the best fit. That is the big scoop, really! It was a fit, but not the best fit. We needed someone with his skills. He was looking for a full time ministry job. He could do the job, BUT it just was not the BEST fit. And, what the Suncoast needs is the best fit. So instead of moving forward for a year or two and having a fit turn into hard feelings or frustration it is just better to stop after this 90 day probation period and both of us can move on to those better fits.
I have worked for churches before that were not a good fit and it is miserable from an employee's perspective! Just ask my wife. "So why do you keep working there then?" Well let's face it there is the reality of making a living.
So to make sure John and Sarah are taken care of we are giving them a financial package to make sure they can get by during this transition. It will give him the freedom to look for the best job without having to worry about the bills for a while.
As a leader I want to see people thrive and my hope is this will allow John to find a role in a church he can thrive in! So I would ask you to join me in praying for John and Sarah as they look for that role and for God's guidance as they walk through this transition.
As for the Suncoast we are now looking for a new children's director. We have been having some awesome numbers of kids each week and we have been in the process of ramping up our Coastal Kids ministry. We have some AWESOME, AWESOME, AWESOME volunteers in the Beach, Shore & Mangroves who will be keeping things going and my wife Cheryl and others will help with some of the logistics of scheduling and all that in the short term.
The Community Group leadership will fall back on my plate for the short term along with the set up and tear down scheduling, but I have talked with some people about heading that up and things will go on like they always have until we get someone new in to lead things again.
The bottom line for the Suncoast is nothing really changes and we have an awesome new series starting this Sunday called "Behind the Curtain" where we are going to talk about some of the issues we face as a church and how bright the future is. We also, in the second week, will be sharing some stories of how the Suncoast has impacted lives and you will not want to miss that. Bring your popcorn and tissues!!!
I love you guys, I love being your pastor, pray for John and see you on Sunday. Bring a friend who maybe is interested in learning about how church should and could be.
PS - Don't miss the first 5 minutes of church this week. We have a gift for everyone!