A New Chapter For Me

I am embarking on a new chapter in my life. After a lot of thought, a lot of prayer, and many conversations with Jen, I have decided to resign as a pastor at my church.

This was a tough decision for me. I absolutely love the people in Sovereign Grace Church of Indiana, PA. They are some of the finest, most godly, most loving people I know. They really are salt of the earth, city on a hill, not hiding their light under a bushel people. It has been an incredible blessing to be their pastor.

So why did I resign? First, in order to avoid all speculation and Internet fury and crazy rumors, let me clear about a few things. I didn’t resign to cover up any scandal. There was no inappropriate sexual behavior, no embezzling, and no abuse. I was not asked to “resign” (emphasis on quotation marks). The decision was wholly mine.

I resigned for two reasons. First, over the past two years it has become increasingly evident there are some fundamental differences of opinion between me and the other three pastors. These differences have made it difficult to function effectively as a pastoral team and have put a significant strain on my relationship with the other three pastors. These differences would take way too long to spell out in writing. I believe that resigning will cause the pastoral team to function more effectively, which will in turn promote the health of the church (which is so important to all of us who are pastors!). I also believe that resigning will allow me to rebuild the important relationships I have with the other pastors, my dad being the most important of all those relationships.

Second, as I have written about before, I have battled chronic anxiety for most of my adult life. Most of the time this feeling of anxiety (heart racing, shortness of breath, adrenaline coursing through my body) is not tied to specific circumstances or worries. Many times I simply wake up feeling this way. However, stressful situations can significantly exacerbate these symptoms, and as you can imagine, pastoral ministry is full of stressful situations! Jen and I both believe that stepping out of pastoral ministry could reduce the amount of anxiety I experience on a daily basis.

I don’t know what my next step will be. I don’t have any job opportunities immediately available to me. My church has generously agreed to give me three months of severance pay. During those three months I’ll be exploring job opportunities as well as working on some various writing projects.

Please pray for both me and Jen. We know God will lead us to the right place but it can be scary setting foot outside the Shire we’ve always known. Please pray that God would provide for us financially and spiritually. We know he will. We know he will be faithful.

I suppose I could end with some trite quote about taking the road less traveled, but I prefer the wise words of Bilbo Baggins:

It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.

I’m confident God will sweep us to a good place.

  • coramdude

    Will be praying for you brother. God bless.

    • Stephen Altrogge

      Thanks so much!

  • http://twitter.com/ryentzer @ryentzer

    Stephen, I'll be praying for you and your family. I have also struggled with depression and anxiety for all of my adult life. My family and I are walking through a tough season ourselves. God is faithful. He will provide.

    • Stephen Altrogge

      Thanks for your prayers!

  • thoughtsfrommyshelf

    Praying for you, Stephen. God will sweep you where he wants you.

    • Stephen Altrogge

      Thanks for praying for me!

  • Jeff Dories

    We will be praying for you Stephen. Also, thanks for sharing about your anxiety. I have experienced the same problem for the last decade or so and it is both often paralyzing individually and extremely challenging for my family. For anyone that has not experienced it, it is difficult to understand and our society still has a stigma surrounding it (or just lack of knowledge in general). Being in a public position makes these struggles even more difficult, as I am sure you know. I think that being open about these struggles is the only way that we can bring awareness to this issue – so I thank you again for being open about it. Again, you are in our prayers and if you ever need to talk to someone who has similar struggles, I am here. Good luck my friend.

    • Stephen Altrogge

      Thanks Jeff! I've always enjoyed the discussions we have. You provoke me to think more deeply.

  • http://jasonlsanders.com Jay

    I'll be praying for you, Stephen.

    • Stephen Altrogge

      Thank you so much!

  • http://www.michiganron.com Ron Wells

    I am excited for you! This sounds like it was a very difficult decision. But it seems you are feeling lead, in it. Congratulations on taking this step. And I look forward to reading where God takes you!

  • Doug Plank

    Love and thank God for you, brother.

    • Stephen Altrogge

      Thanks Doug! You're a good friend.

  • Johnny

    God bless you with whatever direction you go next.

    • Stephen Altrogge

      Thanks!

  • Trillia

    Praying for you and Jen! Thanks for sharing, Stephen.

    • Stephen Altrogge

      Thanks Trillia!

  • Anu

    Don't worry or be anxious. The Lord your and our God will lead you where you have to go. My prayers and regards to both you and your wife. One small piece of advice – As a man thinkers in his heart so is he – so think goodness, think positive, think abundance, think well , claim His promises , and all,will go well with you and as you look for new openings, you will be surprised at the pleasant things that will happen to you. I will pray for you and hope along with you ,for His guidance and providence for you and your family. God Bless you !

    • Stephen Altrogge

      Thanks for your prayers and advice!

  • Scarlett

    Thanks for sharing this! Also, just so you know…my family just loves this blog –especially my teenagers :) And the books you've written…and the music…thanks for serving the Church so well!! We'll be praying for your job hunt to be fruitful!

    • Stephen Altrogge

      Thank you for your encouragement and prayers!

  • Lynnie

    My brother in Christ-

    Please do not be too quick to assign your anxiety problems to something spiritual or psychological, as SGM was prone to do.

    You must get your thyroid levels checked and insist on a workup for heavy metal toxicity. (Even if you think you haven't had exposure, get it anyway. lead, mercury, copper). get zeolite anyway, just in case ( google it, we got the spray into mouth kind). And insist on complete allergy testing- the kind with all those little pricks on your arm. Your problem could be an allergen.

    If you know it all began after some horrible traumatic event, well then OK, maybe it is PTSD. But without clear and specific triggers you really need to get checked out.

    God bless you. He WILL take care of you.

    • Stephen Altrogge

      Thank you Lynnie!

  • http://www.christscovenant.org Larry McCall

    Praying for you, Stephen and for your family and for the church there in Indiana. The Lord directs our steps. He is worthy of all our trust.

    • Stephen Altrogge

      Thanks for your prayers Larry!

  • http://dianadroppings.blogspot.com Diana Paisley

    As someone who suffers from anxiety and depression, with symptoms very similar to yours, I fully understand the need to adjust your life so you are not more stressed than necessary. I am sure this decision was not an easy one, and admire your faithfulness. I have no doubt God will use you greatly for His glory. I will pray for you as you seek the Lord, and for Jen as she supports you; she is an amazing wife and friend :-)

    • Stephen Altrogge

      Thanks Diana! And you're right, Jen is AMAZING!

  • https://www.facebook.com/blee.freshour B Lee Freshour

    I'm praying for you and your family as you follow God's guiding hand. Your Facebook posts and blogs are a blessing. I have fought depression and anxiety for many years and God has used you often to put a smile on my face. I look forward to hearing about your continued adventure with Jesus. God's best, Stephen!

  • http://twitter.com/sometimesalight @sometimesalight

    Many thoughts and prayers here as well. My husband is a pastor, and we've stepped out into the unknown before with nothing more than the certainty that God was calling us to it. I'm praying special grace for your wife as well.

  • Gordon Pawson

    Stephen,
    There are many treasures to mine on the path God is leading you and Jen on. It will produce surprises for you both, some painful to be sure, but others more beautiful than you can articulate, unable to be seen except from the occasional vistas ahead.

    A verse that has comforted my soul these past few years of uncertainty is Psalm 138:8, "The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands." May the LORD bless you with his constant and gracious presence, leading you ever deeper into intimacy with him.

    • Stephen Altrogge

      Thanks for your encouragement Gordon!

  • Donna

    I am sure that this decision has weighed heavily on you. I pray that you will be met with love and care. Praying that God will continue to guide your steps and prosper the work of your hands.

    • Stephen Altrogge

      Thanks so much for your prayers!

  • jeffreykang

    Praying for you and Jen! I've been encouraged much by your posts ever since I started following you just this past year. I know God will continue to work through you and Jen. Trust in Him, and lean not on your understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path! Proverbs 3:5-6

    • Stephen Altrogge

      Thanks Jeffrey!

  • http://artformbsi.com Janet

    Praying for you. Don't know you personally, but have always enjoyed your blog posts and think you are a talented writer. I am confident God will make you path clear.

    • Stephen Altrogge

      Thanks so much Janet!

  • Trish

    Stephen,
    You have been a tremendous encouragement to me as I too struggle with anxiety and depression. I have copied all the posts you have written here on your blog addressing anxiety and have them saved on my iPad. I read them often and they always, always encourage me.

    I don't know where the Lord will lead you and your precious family, but He has already used you and your sufferings…your writing…to help and encourage me and many others. that is a gift! You are a blessing Stephen and God will continue to bless others through you as you share and live your life for Him. Please keep us updated (and please please keep blogging!!) so we know how to pray for you all.

    Much love and prayer,
    Trish

    • Stephen Altrogge

      Thanks for your encouragement! I will keep blogging!

  • Lyn

    "Jesus knows all about our struggles. He will guide 'till the day is done. There's not a friend like the lowly Jesus. No, not one. No, not one."

    Peace, grace and prayers for you, your family and all who are touched by your situation.

    • Stephen Altrogge

      So grateful to have a friend like Jesus.

  • https://www.facebook.com/samuel.h.bradshaw Samuel Bradshaw

    "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."

    I know you've done a lot of good as a pastor and will continue to do good sharing the gospel in simple ways – I hope you can find a new job! God will direct your path.

    • Stephen Altrogge

      Thanks Samuel!

  • https://www.facebook.com/osheadavis Oshea Davis

    will pray

    • Stephen Altrogge

      Thank you!!!

  • Rhonda

    Praying for you and Jen! Thank you for sharing from the heart via this blog post. We will pray for the specific things you have mentioned. My husband and I can relate very closely to what you are going through, as my husband recently resigned as a Pastor in the church we were at for many years for completely personal reasons that were somewhat similar to yours. We were not sure where the Lord would lead and for almost 7 months we were definitely walking by faith and not by sight! But, the Lord has graciously made our way clear and we are now overjoyed to be houseparents at the Milton Hershey School. Give my best to Jen! I traveled with her during our Joshua Generation days. :-) Blessings! Rhonda

    • Stephen Altrogge

      Thank you for your prayers and encouragement!

  • God Bless You

    Stephen, I want you to know that your are helping a couple through a very tough time leaving a very conservative church group. We love your insight into the gospel. I know that the Lord has a plan for your life. We love you.

    • Stephen Altrogge

      Wow, so grateful I can help! Thanks for your encouragement!

  • Matt Rapach

    Praying for you and Jen! The Lord really is good and has good in store for you.

    We knew Jen from Joshua generation and met you briefly when we lived in Indiana during a hard time and “desert” time we were walking through. You were a blessing to us then. He is faithful!

    Matt and Sarah Rapach

    • Stephen Altrogge

      Thank you guys so much for your prayers!

  • Dave

    G'day Stephan
    Thank you for your honesty, frailty and deep confidence in our Sovereign God. I've been encouraged and edified as I've digested this blog and your realness for the last couple of years. I'll be praying for you both and for the church.

    • Stephen Altrogge

      Thanks Dave!

  • sevennotesofgrace

    Australia is a good place! Would love to hear more of your songs, as in, write some more! Your writings are such a blessing, both in song and through your blog. Blessings to you in this new chapter. Ros

    • Stephen Altrogge

      Thanks Ros! I'm glad God has used me to encourage you!

  • Felicia

    It's a tremendous testimony to faith and obedience to make such a decision. I will keep you and your family lifted of in prayer.

    • Stephen Altrogge

      Thank you!

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  • Sara

    Will you continue blogging here? Praying for you and Jen!

    • Stephen Altrogge

      I will continue blogging! Thanks for your prayers!

  • Fin Langman

    Love the blog. Thanks for your honesty – will be praying for you.

  • Tamika

    Praying for you. Cling to God! You are in the Potter's hands. Be Encouraged.

    • Stephen Altrogge

      I'm glad the Potter is so good!

  • http://spmvs.com wvpv

    Well I hope you don't stop writing. Please let us know if you start up another blog.

    • Stephen Altrogge

      I plan to keep on blogging here!

  • David Paul

    Praying for you and Jen. It takes great courage to make such a decision at a time like this in your life. I pray and hope that God will direct your paths. Just hold on to him. The best is yet to come. We always love what you do with your Dad who is also a great friend and a spiritual father to me and my precious wife Ruby. We will stand with you in prayer during this challenging transition in your life.

    • Stephen Altrogge

      Thank you David Paul!

  • EMSoliDeoGloria

    New adventures are ahead. Take time to rest and heal at the pace God has for you. Don't be too quick to condemn yourself as you may find yourself asking new questions and making changes in the days ahead. God bless you and your family.

  • Pam Amos

    Thanks for sharing. Anxiety issues are so rarely discussed and so widespread. Additionally the church seems to count that people who are Godly shouldn't have this problem without understanding that it is not something you can control. I don't have panic attacks but I have dear family members who love the Lord and struggle with this. God bless and looking forward to more of your blogs.

    • Stephen Altrogge

      Thanks Pam!

  • brooklyn

    stevo you are a good man and I wish you the best in the road you and your family travel next you have always been a good person of faith and have always taught me a lot about it and even in my stubborn way I listen to you most even though I am not a member of that church it is sad to know that you will no longer pastor there but at the same time I know that you have a place there and are going were the road takes ya I will keep you and jen and the family in my thoughts and prayers as ya make this journey very best of luck buddy hope to see ya around town my man keep ya head up there are better things ahead

    • Stephen Altrogge

      Brooklyn!!!

  • Charles Byrne

    Dear Stephen,
    I hope you will continue blogging! Be slow to commit to what comes next. Charles Byrne

    • Stephen Altrogge

      Thanks Charles! I will continue blogging!

  • http://twitter.com/JoelofCydonia @JoelofCydonia

    Good luck!

  • Jim Hogue

    Hey Stevo,

    Lois and I will be praying for you and Jen. I respect you for this decision, man.
    Jim