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A SPECIAL MESSAGE FROM MATT REYNOLDS

{NOTE: On May 5 at the Partner/Pledger Meeting we made an announcement about the upcoming pastoral transition. You can also scroll to the bottom to listen and watch Matt Reynolds share the letter.}


Dearest Grace Midtown,

It was a Sunday evening, February 12, 2017 that Buddy Hoffman, the Founder of the Grace Family of Churches, and more personally, my mentor and co-conspirator in the Kingdom, passed away. When I arrived at his house, Buddy’s wife Jody informed me it had begun to rain just as he passed. I remembered thinking, “what a beautiful symbol of transition.” I could say many things about the global impact of Buddy’s life or the dynamic force his personality had on others, but I think what I will remember most is the authentic grace that flowed from his heart towards people. Such grace almost caught you off guard because it was coming from such a powerful person, and I can’t explain it in any other way than that it felt “Jesus-like” to be around.

Buddy was an entrepreneur. Part of his legacy is that he planted or co-planted seven churches in the metro Atlanta and Washington D.C. area. These churches make up what we call the Grace Family of Churches, and in the year after his death, each church grew. That is not normal. I believe it is a testament to the power of a discipleship model of church planting, where aspiring leaders receive relational investment and are empowered to go beyond those who have trained them. The sustained health of the churches is also a testament to the genuine relationships and commitment to the mission held by the congregations of the Grace Family of Churches.

Days after Buddy passed, the Lead Pastors of the churches and a few Grace Board Members (who were also some of Buddy’s closest friends), were inspired and convicted to begin a foundation that would carry-on the distinct ministry contribution of Buddy’s life. Three pillars immediately emerged: a passion to raise-up next generation leaders, to plant churches, and to catalyze Jesus movements in the Muslim world. After sharing the idea with Buddy’s family and seeing their enthusiasm, it seemed “good to us and the Holy Spirit” (Acts 15:28) to create the Buddy Hoffman Foundation (also known as the BHF).

The Lead Pastors learned around this time that the parent organization of the Grace Family of Churches held a “key-man” life insurance policy on Buddy Hoffman (due to the fact that Buddy was essential to the ongoing success of the organization). We agreed that part of that policy payout should be given to Buddy’s family to honor and thank them for the work, grit, and sacrifice required to found the Grace Family. We agreed the rest should be invested as “seed money” to launch the BHF. A few months later during our annual Lead Pastor Retreat in the summer of 2017, each church pledged to give 5% of their local tithes to the BHF to function as a “common pot” for collaboration around the three pillars of the Foundation. This was another powerful and uncommon moment in our story, as it would have been natural for the seven churches to pursue their own individual agendas now that the founding leader was gone. To commit to sacrificing 5% locally for the sake of growing and multiplying the Grace Family was a very real act of trust communicating that we believe we are better together. Better together, meaning, that our shared impact could be greater and more beautiful than our individual impact as churches.

A year later, at the Lead Pastors Retreat (summer 2018), it became apparent that full-time leadership was necessary to accomplish the mission of the Buddy Hoffman Foundation and to move the Grace Family of Churches forward together. We needed someone who would “wake up thinking about the Family,” which was not possible for any of the Lead Pastors engaged in the full-time work of pastoring a church. During that retreat, I felt a sense of peace when asked by the group if I was interested in taking on this leadership role within the Family. It felt like a door that God was opening for me that would fit my identity and my unique gifts as a pioneering leader. I did realize however, that this leadership opportunity meant that I would have to transition out of my role as Lead Pastor of Grace Midtown. I also felt a peace about that decision because it was clear to me who should replace me as Lead Pastor of Grace Midtown.

Rob Kaple has been a close friend of mine since I first became a Christian in 2002 as a high school senior. I have always respected Rob’s personal and intimate walk with God, and the ministry that has flowed from his life. As a spiritual leader, I have experienced Rob to be humble, honest, and zealous to invest his life and leadership gifts to make a real difference for the Kingdom. When I became the pastor of Grace Midtown Church, naturally, I wanted to recruit him to our staff team. In 2013, after years of persuasion and dreaming, Rob and Kirby did join the Grace Midtown Staff Team to our great delight. Since the day they came on board, I believed they could go plant another Grace Church or potentially assume leadership of Midtown one day.

Over the past six years it has been incredibly fun and fruitful to minister and “do life” with Rob and Kirby Kaple. Rob has excelled as a Pastor at Grace Midtown and Kirby has been a part of launching a global worship movement in Housefires. Rob assumed the role of House Church Pastor in early 2015, was one of the original leaders who developed and launched our FORM School of Leadership, and over the last two years has served and excelled as the Associate Pastor. Over the years, Rob has demonstrated a visible commitment to the Vision, Mission and Values of Grace Midtown. Additionally, Rob has preached at nearly all of the Grace Churches and has always been well received across the Grace Family. All of these reasons and more put Rob at the top of our list of candidates to replace me as Lead Pastor.

I will never forget sitting down with Rob the day after the Lead Pastors Retreat (2018) to have what I believe to be our most weighty conversation to date. I asked, “Do you want to take over Grace Midtown Church and become the lead pastor?” As I knew Rob would, he received this offer with humility, sobriety, and with healthy and holy pause. He knew what a big deal it was for me to hold out to him the work that Margaret and I have so passionately, fiercely, and willingly poured our hearts and souls into over the last 10 years. There was almost a look of “are you sure?” in his eyes, so I went on to stress the amount of peace I was experiencing about my leadership transition and the joy I felt in inviting him to carry on the work. I also experienced a tangible sense of grace during the conversation with him. It was a beautiful thing.

Over the last nine months, Rob has been interviewed by the Lead Pastors of the Grace Family and by the Grace Midtown Board. Rob has taken various personality and leadership assessments as part of this process, as well as spent much time in prayer discerning the costs of this role and whether it is right for him. The collective Grace Family Leadership unanimously and unreservedly supports Rob Kaple as the next Lead Pastor of Grace Midtown. We all feel that Rob is the best and right person to lead our church into the next season and Rob has agreed to take on this position.

Practically, Rob and I will be co-leading the church throughout 2019. Our goal is to facilitate a smooth leadership transition, especially in light of the fact that our church is soon to move into our long-awaited renovated space! My role as the Executive Director of the Buddy Hoffman Foundation has already begun in a part-time function and by January 1, 2020, I will be serving full-time with the Foundation. Although my family and I will still attend and be involved at Grace Midtown as our home church, in 2020 I will no longer have formal organizational authority, as Rob will be serving as the Lead Pastor.

To close, I want everyone that is and has been a part of Grace Midtown to know that I have so loved my time as the Lead Pastor of our church. I can never in a thousand years share with you how meaningful, how challenging, how funny, but ultimately, how rewarding it has been to be the Pastor of our church. I have literally and spiritually “grown up” while being your Pastor. You don’t know how much that means to me. I want to thank you for your patience and partnership with me. We have seen God do so many wild and amazing things! This community has and will mark me for the rest of my life and I will always be proud to say that I was the Pastor of Grace Midtown for a decade. I want you to know I also feel a great sense of excitement for what the future will hold: both for Margaret and myself and our three boys, for Rob and Kirby and their daughter to come, for Grace Midtown and for the Grace Family of Churches.

Sincerely,
Matt Reynolds  

 


 

F.A.Q. - Lead Pastor Transition Announcement - May 5, 2019

 What’s next for Matt Reynolds?

Matt Reynolds is transitioning into the role of leading the Buddy Hoffman Foundation, moving the Grace Family of Churches forward.  This is an exciting transition for Matt, as he will have the opportunity to grow and lead the Grace Family of Churches. This is also an exciting opportunity for Grace Midtown, as Rob Kaple will become the new Lead Pastor.

 What is the timeline for this transition?

Matt and Rob will co-lead Grace Midtown thru the end of 2019, while Matt takes on more and more responsibility with the Buddy Hoffman Foundation.  Starting in January 2020, Matt will move full-time into his leadership role with the Buddy Hoffman Foundation, and Rob will move full-time into the Lead Pastor role at Grace Midtown.

 Why is Rob qualified to lead Grace Midtown?

Over the past six years, Rob has excelled as a Pastor at Grace Midtown, and Kirby has been a part of launching a global worship movement in Housefires. Rob assumed the role of House Church Pastor in early 2015, was one of the original leaders who developed and launched our FORM School of Leadership, and over the last two years has served and excelled as the Associate Pastor at Grace Midtown. Over the years Rob has demonstrated a visible commitment to the Vision, Mission and Values of Grace Midtown. Additionally, Rob has preached at nearly all of the Grace Churches and has always been well received across the Grace Family. All of these reasons and more put Rob at the top of our list of candidates to replace me as Lead Pastor.

 What was the process of selecting Rob to be the Lead Pastor?

The Grace Midtown Board, along with a trusted consultant who has significant experience with helping churches our size transition leadership, created a selection process for the Lead Pastor role that Rob went thru. This process involved multiple leadership assessments and interviews with the Lead Pastors of the Grace Family of Churches, as well as the Grace Midtown Board. Both Rob and these bodies have also spent a significant amount of time in prayer, seeking the Lord for direction on this important decision. And at the end of this process, the Lead Pastors of the Grace Family of Churches and the Grace Midtown Board both voted unanimously in favor of Rob becoming the Lead Pastor at Grace Midtown.

 What does it mean for the future of the church?

Our goal is for there to be a smooth leadership transition, especially in light of our church moving into our newly renovated space! This is one of the reasons Matt and Rob have decided to co-lead the church thru the end of 2019.  Rob is committed to the vision, mission, and values of Grace Midtown –inviting all humans to become awake to God in their real lives, thru discipleship, house churches, and church plants in other city centers –and will continue leading Grace Midtown toward this vision.

Will Margaret Reynolds remain on staff?

Yes, Margaret will remain on staff as the Staff Development Pastor.

When is Rob and Kirby’s Sabbatical?

Rob and Kirby will be on Sabbatical beginning June 10 and will be back on July 15.