Greg Taylor Stepping Down
Dear Journey Church Family,
In God’s story, when leaders stepped down, other leaders stepped up. Over the years, I have been stepping down so women and men can step up into preaching at The Journey.
In June 2020, I am officially stepping down from being the preacher of The Journey. I love this church, so the time has come for me to step down and let others step up. There is nothing negative that has prompted this decision, only some positive realities.
First, this is a next step for me. In my doctoral studies I learned more about the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. I learned that white mobs burned 1,256 homes in Greenwood/North Tulsa. Last Fall I got a vision to lead a movement of Tulsa area citizens to rebuild those 1,256 homes destroyed in the massacre. With another builder based in Greenwood, we are starting what’s called the “1256 Movement.” The 1256 Movement is a collection of diverse people who envision 1,256 families in North Tulsa in ten years owning affordable, quality homes. With more access to credit and home ownership, North Tulsans can build equity, send their kids to college, start businesses, and most importantly increase hope.
I grew up in the building business, the first profession of Jesus! In July 2020, I plan to return to work full time with my brother, Brent, in Taylor Homes construction company, founded in 1958 by my father and grandfather. I’m stepping down here, but stepping up to work with my family and new friends in North Tulsa.
The Taylor Family and The Journey
The second reality is that my family and the church have a strong bond. I want to say a few words about Jill and our children. I love how Jill prays for me as I preach and tells me the truth about what I need to improve. She has served on the Mountain Movers and Every Nation Mission Fund teams. Jill always serves in potlucks, showers, and small group hosting. Jill has led children in our church to love Jesus and learn scripture. She was the one who suggested we hire our children’s minister, Bartola Kuruvilla. Jill is head of the math department at Broken Arrow High School and teaches math courses at Tulsa Community College. She is highly respected by her students, colleagues, and her husband.
Ashley, Anna, and Jacob have spent fifteen years of their lives in our church. Jacob used his talents to “run off the debt” and taught “Running for God” with Steve Martin. He is growing in deep faith in God and wants to share his heart in teaching contexts like Journey. Anna has always served with a heart to include all people and has traveled on several missions. I’m proud of her work as an R.N., and that spirit of mercy and inclusion will serve her well in her profession. Ashley has returned to live in the area, teaching English at Union 6th Grade Center. She faithfully teaches our Journey children to pray and love Jesus. I appreciate Ashley serving on the tech team and laughing at my jokes, however silly. I love how my kids have been loyal to the church and to me, but have also told me the truth, offering feedback about improvements to my preaching. We have tried to model a family that deeply loves the Lord as we’ve walked with you.
God is in control and The Journey is Moving Forward
The third reality is that the church is alive and moving forward. God is in control. The mission to invite all people into Christ centered life goes forward with or without me. The church has a mission fund, savings, and offerings that work for a strong budget that may work better without having to pay a preacher’s salary for a season, the length of which God will show you.
In the past fifteen years Jill and I have been involved in our church moving to full women’s participation in preaching and leadership. Together we successfully got out of debt and moved locations. Meanwhile, the church remained strong and began focusing more on discipleship steps with Jesus and missions.
After stepping down in June, Jill and I plan to be away for the summer, traveling to Israel and giving the current staff and shepherds space to lead without me here. In the Fall, we plan to continue as members as long as this works for current leaders and us mutually.
Fourth, the staff and new shepherds are leading. I have made it my goal to mentor women and men to lead, preach, and take the vision of building a new church around all people taking next steps with Jesus. I truly believe the current staff can run day to day operations with the church supporting them. Our staff and church family has been a loving, serving, praising, missional, and honest community to be a part of. While I am happy about the future roles I’m being called to in the community, I will also deeply miss serving on the church staff.
Staff of The Journey Stepping Up
As I step down in June 2020, I want to say some very specific things about the staff that will be stepping up.
Bartola Kuruvilla has taken children’s ministry to another level, and we love her spirit of joy, compassion, and organization. She involves dozens of families and children in life change and next steps with Jesus. Barty teaches and mentors other teachers to show our children how to pray to the Lord. I love the photo I’ve seen of Journey Kids on mats in prayer. I believe this thrills the heart of Jesus, who taught us to pray and said, “let the little children come unto me.” I love how Barty is a magnet for children who also love her deeply.
Cory Legg has also taken our worship to a new place, navigating worship team and worship style change. He has taken the lead on the mandate given to him to transition us to blended worship. He helps older and younger, those with many musical tastes, all to worship the Lord. I love Cory’s spirit of joy, challenge, passion, organization, people skills, and transparency. Using gifts of many people in the church, he has mentored them to next steps to play, sing, write songs, and lead us all in worship.
Nate Donley has taken youth ministry to the next level. Nate has moved our youth to new experiences, taking and returning them safely without incident on many trips, camps, and conferences. Nate has endured the ups and downs of teenage life with joy, and shared heartache when the teens experience family and personal tragedy. He has not wavered in his commitment to love, lead, mentor, teach, and call teens to next steps with Jesus as they study the scriptures and keep their eyes on Jesus. I love how Nate has taken upon himself the role of stepping up to lead as I step down. Please pray for and support Nate and the rest of the staff as they step up.
Lisa Combs has been my right arm through nearly fifteen years of staff life at our church. Lisa has served with integrity, grit, and joy. Lisa prays through each situation our church has faced, calling us to faith in God when it seemed we had no other options. She has led us to learn that God always provides, has cared for our church for 50 years, and will continue. Lisa has endured through health issues and selflessly taken less pay, working only what was required for doing an excellent job of managing the church’s finances.
Nyasha Peters has been my left arm, coming in daily to my office and asking, “What can I do to help?” Nyasha plans, designs, and publishes the weekly Journey Newsletter that keeps our church in the loop and connected to one another. She manages prayer requests, is the first happy face you see when you enter the Outpost. Nyasha has been a true servant to all the staff, shepherds, and church. I am personally going to miss her presence, smile, laugh, and assistance in my life. But more than that, I will miss her heart and challenging world view, and her faithfulness to the mission of our church.
Who Will Shape Theology and Biblical Preaching?
Finally, leaders have wisely asked, “When you step down, where will the center of preaching, theology, mission, and social justice come from?” I believe it comes first from the historical beliefs and practice of our church, reading and studying scripture together, and expository biblical preaching. Next, the center can be continued with staff and shepherds leading the way and the congregation joining in to finish The Journey Bible Project through June 2021. There are already two groups working on this: a preaching/worship coordination team and a preaching team of women and men who will actually do the preaching.
The preaching/worship coordinating team is Nate Donley, Cory Legg, Lene Davis, Phyllis Fields, and two Journey members who will be chosen soon. This team will make a plan for preaching and choose preachers from among a group of spiritually gifted women and men who have already preached or taught Bible studies at The Journey. This preaching team includes but is not limited to the following people who have given permission to be included here: Nate Donley, Jo Morton, Clarence Davis, Lexi Bolte, Spenser Bolte, Donna Dickmann, Janice Harris, Carl Harris, Quinn Fields, Ollisha Warren, Robert Garland, and John Dickmann. I am also willing to join this group of volunteer preachers. Members of this preaching team may preach several Sundays a year starting in July 2020.
Shepherding Model Coming of Age at The Journey
To conclude, I want to thank the former shepherds and the current shepherds for guiding me and the staff through this transition. The shepherding model introduced twenty years ago has now come fully of age. The current shepherds—Beth West, Donna Dickmann, Lene Davis, Phyllis Fields, Jananne Hillenburg, Mark Hillenburg, Ben West, John Dickmann, Clarence Davis, and Chris Fields—have the shepherding hearts and minds, passion, and purpose to guide the staff and congregation through this transition. By the grace and mercy of God, the church will continue to move forward in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Only God can keep you from falling and present you before God’s glorious presence without fault and with great joy! To the Only God through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be all glory, honor, power, and authority, for all time, now and forevermore. Amen (Jude 24-25).
Greg R. Taylor