By Corey Bullock – formerly the Ahwatukee Campus Pastor
Today marks my last day at Central. For the past 11 ½ years, this place has been my employment, my ministry, my church, my training ground, my family and so much more. I still remember arriving in Arizona with my wife and my Toyota Echo on our 1 year anniversary. As the rain come pouring down, our new church family gathered around our moving truck and helped us get settled in. Just 23 years old, I entered into my first occupational ministry position at one of the best churches in the country (little did I know how fortunate I was at the time to sit under such great leadership).
In my time here at Central I have dabbled in Sports, Life Groups and Evangelism. I was asked at 25 to pioneer the Gilbert Campus Pastor position and most recently I have had the privilege of launching and leading the Ahwatukee Campus. I am eternally grateful for the opportunities that Central has provided for me to both grow as a pastor and to use my giftings to better this church. I have often said, that Southland Christian Church in Lexington was the church I was raised in, but Central is the church I grew up in!
All of my experiences here at Central have equipped me and in a sense required me to take this next step in ministry to help plant a new church in Colorado Springs. I have acquired the skill sets necessary, but have also learned how to listen to the Spirit of God over my years at this church. I have also learned to passionately pursue Jesus even into the unknown and to be recklessly obedient regardless of the cost. The Lord has called and therefore I must go. It will be hard, but it will be worth it.
We have known for a little while now that this transition would be imminent and it has drastically impacted the way we have approached the time that we had left. Over the past couple of months, my perspective has been altered by the fact that we are leaving. There is a good country song (not sure there is a bad country song) that encourages people to “Live like you’re dying”. While I completely agree with the connotation, it is hard to maintain that level of thinking and there is a degree of finality that is impossible to manufacture. However, I have found that if you “live like you are leaving” it puts things in a manageable perspective that I hope remains even after I transition.
Here a few of the insights that I have found valuable in my preparation to leave:
- Work smarter not harder – this is a value held by our staff at Central, but it is easy to get caught up in simply working hard and long. When you start to understand that your time is truly limited it changes your approach. Think about the productivity you experience when you are about to leave on an extended vacation. Every week should look more like this.
- Relationship really matter – when it all boils down to it, especially in ministry, relationships are all that matter. People will not really recall the meetings that you lead the initiatives you accomplished or even the messages you gave, but they will remember how you made them feel. They will remember the prayers you prayed and the time you came to visit them when their word was falling apart. It is easy to get caught up in getting things done, but when you live like you are leaving you start to change your priorities.
- To withhold a word of commendation might be a graver sin than speaking a correction harshly – there have often been times that I have noticed someone doing something well or seen the potential in a person and for whatever reason have failed to convey this. When you realize your time is short, then you start to take advantage of those opportunities to tell people truly how you feel.
- You can’t take everything with you – we have so much stuff that we hold on to when it could be better used when gifted to others. Why put your stuff in storage when it could be a blessing to others now.
Thanks again to my Central family for the investment and the commissioning of this next phase of ministry. I am eternally indebted to this church and see this new work as an extension of what it looks like to be and “Owner of the Mission at Central”. If you would like to keep in touch or find out more about this new Kingdom venture then my new email will beCorey.Bullock@TraceChurch.com and the website is www.TraceChurch.com