12 June, 2021

What Are You Doing Now?


by | 19 May, 2019 | 0 comments

Compiled by Mark A. Taylor

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Alan Ahlgrim

Retired: Founding pastor with Rocky Mountain Christian Church, Niwot, Colorado, March 2013

What are you doing now? Continues to encourage and mentor church leaders. Director of Covenant Groups with the Center for Church Leadership.

Thoughts on retirement: “The best is yet to be for every kingdom leader. I jokingly say if I had known this season would be so fulfilling, I would have started with this first and stuck with it! I’ve traded unrelenting responsibility for a soul-enriching opportunity.”

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Dick Alexander

Retired: Senior minister, LifeSpring Christian Church, Cincinnati, June 2013

What are you doing now? International consultant with Christian Missionary Fellowship, enhancing the pastoral training curriculum for Missions of Hope in Nairobi, Kenya, and coordinating teaching visits from the U.S. Guide in The Ascent, a leadership mentoring program sponsored by CDF Leadership Capital.

Thoughts on retirement: “Retirement brings the opportunity to do significant ministry with fewer deadlines and less pressure. [It’s an] opportunity to be more selective and allow people to plug into their sweet spots. It’s fun! Being able to spend all of one’s work week focused on how to connect people with God is a terrific privilege.”

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Dennis Bratton

Retired: Senior pastor with Mandarin Christian Church (Christ’s Church), Jacksonville, Florida, June 2010

What are you doing now? Board of directors, The Solomon Foundation and Restoration Movement Media. Member of Northfield Church in Gallatin, Tennessee. Founded KORE Foundation shortly after retirement. (See sidebar.)

Thoughts on retirement: “Retirement is just a doorway to something completely new—like going from preaching sermons in air conditioning to raising chickens in Haiti! It’s incredible how much I’ve learned to trust God as a ‘missionary’! Right before our eyes he’s answered prayers, provided resources, and brought people with incredible skills and unique hearts to come alongside KORE’s unusual approach to missionary work. I would have missed so much if I’d skipped retirement!”

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John Caldwell

Retired: Kingsway Christian Church, outside Indianapolis, June 2010

What are you doing now? Very active in ministry: guest preaching and interim ministries, consulting, weddings and funerals, visiting shut-ins, attending church-related conventions, and serving with three mission boards as well as part-time field representative for Christian Arabic Services. John and his wife, Jan, love to travel, and in addition to visiting favorite or new vacation spots, they led a trip to the Holy Land in 2018.

Thoughts on retirement: “Make sure you’re ready. (I probably would have stayed at least another year or two if I had it to do over again.)”

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Bob and Vicki Cherry

Retired: Bob was senior pastor and Vicki was creative arts director at Northeast Christian Church, Louisville, Kentucky, when they retired in April 2016

What are you doing now? Bob preaches three-to-five weekends each year at Northeast and has done supply preaching. He meets monthly with his successor, Tyler McKenzie, to provide encouragement “and hopefully wisdom,” and leads a yearlong mentoring group of 10 to 12 elder candidates for the church. He and Vicki have enjoyed travel they had put off while they were working, and Bob has led Bible lands tours with people from Northeast. They are both active members at the Clifton campus of Northeast, where Vicki serves on the audiovisual team.

Thoughts on retirement—Bob: “I love being retired! Many had told me I had to have something to retire to so I would have real purpose and not be bored. My life since retirement has been extremely fulfilling. Each day is a new adventure.”

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Ken Idleman

Retired: Crossroads Christian Church, Newburgh/Evansville, Indiana, May 2016

What are you doing now? Joined The Solomon Foundation on May 23, 2016, the day after he retired! Serving as vice president of leadership development. “I am leveraging my 36 years as a Bible college teacher and administrator and 16 years as a local church pastor to encourage and equip church leaders.” Serves as a volunteer in men’s ministry and senior adult ministry at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, where he and his wife, Kaylene, are members.

Thoughts on retirement: “If you have a healthy body, a sound mind, and adequate resources, find a way to invest yourself in some kind of kingdom-building ministry. It need not be vocational ministry. Volunteer to do the kinds of things you have always wanted to do for the Lord in the local church or on the mission field.”

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Gary Johnson

Retired: Indian Creek Christian Church, Indianapolis, Indiana, April 2019

What are you doing now? Executive director of e2: effective elders, whose mission is coaching elder teams to win. Speaking, writing, and mentoring elders to lead the local church with greater effectiveness.

Thoughts on retirement: “People don’t remember how we came. They remember how we leave.”

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LeRoy Lawson

Retired: President, Hope International University, Fullerton, California, May 2003; professor, Emmanuel Christian Seminary, May 2016

What are you doing now? Served as interim minister with First Christian Church, Johnson City, Tennessee, November 2015–May 2016 and as interim minister with Kaimuki Christian Church, Honolulu, Hawaii, May–October 2018. International consultant with Christian Missionary Fellowship. Lectures on cruises sponsored by Educational Opportunities. Other recent assignments: Webb Lectureship, Milligan College, March 2019, and Senior Saints in the Smokies, Johnson University, Knoxville, Tennessee, May–June 2019.

Thoughts on retirement: “Don’t just retire from; plan to retire to. You want to be able to say who you are, not just who you were. Be prepared to move from the playing field to the grandstand, from doing to cheering others in their doing. Biological grandparenting is fun; so is professional grandparenting. Try to travel light in retirement, unencumbered by superfluous stuff accumulated over a lifetime.”

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Glen Liston

Retired: Grace Christian Church (now called Current—A Christian Church), Katy, Texas, September 2017

What are you doing now? With his wife, Shirley, traveled as a volunteer for Central India Christian Mission for nine years; led six trips to India, spoke on behalf of the mission in local churches, and attended more then 20 conferences representing the mission. Meets monthly with a different area minister to buy his lunch, encourage him, and pray with him. An active volunteer at New Hope Church in Marvel, Texas: leading a small group, delivering lunch to homebound members, speaking, and performing weddings and funerals.

Thoughts on retirement: “Plan on decompression time after leaving the pulpit. Plan to do something meaningful with your life; leaders always need a way to lead, and pastors always need a way to pastor.”

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Ben Merold

Retired: Senior minister with Harvester Christian Church, St. Charles, Missouri, August 2008 (at the age of 82!)

What are you doing now? With his wife, Pat, leads a large Bible study for seniors on Thursdays, with a repeat of the lesson on Thursday evenings. Spends seven or eight weeks each year with Bob Russell in a retreat called “A Time of Refreshing” (see sidebar). Church growth seminars, revival meetings, and guest speaking.

Thoughts on retirement: “I accepted the ministry of Harvester Christian Church three weeks before my 65th birthday. We had a great, growing ministry together for more than 17 years. They were good to me then and they are still good to me.”

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Steve Reeves

Retired: Connection Pointe Christian Church, Brownsburg, Indiana, September 2017

What are you doing now? Served as interim preacher with Crossroads Christian Church, Washington Court House, Ohio, in 2018. Meanwhile wrote Restored: Our Story, a book about Connection Pointe, published by College Press, and served with the Center for Church Leadership in Cincinnati as advisory board member, seminar leader, consultant, and director of ENGAGE, an encouragement and prayer ministry for pastors of local churches. Connection Pointe gave him the title “pastor at large” to indicate his ongoing ministry vision.

Thoughts on retirement: “I loved being the preacher for two churches over a 40-year period. But this new season of ministry (encouraging church leaders) is the most fulfilling. My conviction: When you leave the local church, leave. Don’t do or say anything to sabotage your successor or fuel division in the congregation you were privileged to lead.”

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Wally Rendel

Retired: Jessamine Christian Church, Nicholasville, Kentucky, November 2018

What are you doing now? Pulpit supply and memorial services. Staying connected with and coaching area ministers as opportunities arise. “Thanking God I don’t have to go to staff meetings anymore.”

Thoughts on retirement: “Some of your most significant days of ministry can come on the heels of your retirement. Thank God for that. C.S. Lewis said, ‘You are never too old to set a new goal or dream a new dream.’ Trust God to open doors for your ongoing service.”

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Bob Russell

Retired: Southeast Christian Church, Louisville, Kentucky, June 2006

What are you doing now? Mentors younger preachers. (Conducts nine retreats each year; see sidebar.) Speaks for and consults with local churches and leadership conferences. Writes a weekly blog and prepares Bible-study videos for small groups.

Thoughts on retirement: “Set an exact date a couple of years in advance in order to take the emotion out of the decision about when to retire. Then stick to it. Focus on your gifts and stay energized by doing what you enjoy doing the most. Learn to say no to requests that drain your energy. (I hate meetings and am not a good board member. So I decided, no boards, period. That made it easy to respond to requests.) Communicate early and often with your spouse and family what you intend to do in retirement so they can rejoice with you and pray for your contribution.

“I enjoyed the located ministry, but the last 12 years have been the most enjoyable of my life.”

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Don Wilson

Retired: Christ’s Church of the Valley, Peoria, Arizona, November 2017

What are you doing now? President, Accelerate Group. With his wife, Sue, the main focus is helping pastors and wives stay healthy and “go the distance in ministry” as well as navigate difficult transitions. “This has been more rewarding than we could have imagined.”

Thoughts on retirement: “When I retired, I was asked not to worship at CCV for at least six months at any campus and 12 months at the main campus. That was more difficult emotionally for my wife and me than I anticipated. But I think it was the right decision, because I could give total support to my successor and not be negative in any way. I have seen other situations where the former pastor creates a major problem by staying on and undermining his successor’s ministry by disagreeing with the way he’s leading.”

Check out these related articles:
“If You Have a Pulse, You Have a Purpose”
“Times of Refreshing”
“Kindness, Opportunities, Resources, Evangelism”


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