Chris's Sabbatical and Our New Acting Executive Director
A Word from Chris
When Laura and I co-founded the Vere Institute six years ago, we had no idea the journey we were about to undertake. There have been incredible highs, as we’ve seen leaders embrace the vision of whole-life discipleship and implement practices that empower Frontline in their churches. There have been challenges too. The sacred secular divide does not go away easily, and it takes time for church cultures to change.
This past year has been no exception. We have celebrated some amazing developments: bringing on Diana Gruver as our Communications Director and Brian Emmet as a coach-in-residence, launching our Co-Missioned Church course, and starting several pastors’ roundtables. Of course, in a year with COVID-19, there were unexpected challenges too: losing financial support, experiencing cancelled events, and figuring out how to move our ministry online. Our life circumstances have also changed, as Laura decided it was time to leave her Frontline and search for her next opportunity.
As we look forward to what God has in store for the Vere Institute going forward, I believe that He is inviting me to take a sabbatical from February until May. While I have been hesitant to do this, I have received tremendous encouragement from wise people who have counseled me.
What gives me great comfort in taking this step is that the Vere Institute is in wonderful hands: the board and team God has provided are all outstanding individual examples of what it looks like to live as a whole-life disciple, and all are committed to advancing the mission in my absence. I am also incredibly thankful that God has provided an Acting Executive Director, Brian Bethke. I’ve had the pleasure to get to know Brian over the past year and a half, and he has been a tremendous champion of the cause: leading Imagine on the Road workshops, helping get our coaching service off the ground, and serving on our board. He’s also someone who understands the opportunities and challenges of serving in both a Frontline and Equipping ministry context.
As we take this step of faith, I would ask that you keep us in your prayers. Please pray that we would seek to follow His lead, and that He would continue to use the Vere Institute to advance His Kingdom.
A Word from Our Acting Executive Director: Brian Bethke
A couple of weeks ago Chris informed me he was thinking of taking a sabbatical. I immediately felt excited for him! That was until he asked if I would consider serving as the Acting Executive Director in his absence. As I thought about his weighty request, it brought me back to a place prior to pastoral ministry, and Vere.
For years I pondered, “Does God actually care about my ordinary life?” I was a husband, father, son, brother, uncle, military officer, and parishioner at a local church in suburban southern California. Life was not bad; it was just ordinary. Every Sunday I walked into the sanctuary, with a low-level of guilt because I knew I did not have extra time to do the work God really cared about. The pastors I had were great teachers and preachers but I never felt like they were equipping me for my frontline, my everyday. I was told the gospel transformed everything and Jesus Chris was Lord of all, but if I am honest it was hard for me to connect the dots. I was stuck in the chasm of the secular-sacred divide. Perhaps you have been stuck there before?
John Stott once wrote, “Every new generation needs to be challenged afresh…not to separate the secular from the sacred, to allow Jesus to become Lord of every sphere of our lives.” Years later I was challenged by John Stott and the whole-life implications and applications of the gospel. Jesus was in fact Lord of every place, space and longs to recreate in the ordinary. This whole-life vision equips churches to release missionary disciples on their frontline, in their everyday. This is what The Vere Institute is all about! At Vere we believe we have been called to challenge afresh the current discipleship paradigms so that every disciple can reveal the kingdom of God in ever square-inch and sphere on this earth. We exist to connect the dots!
It was with great enthusiasm and humility I accepted Chris’s weighty offer to serve as Acting Executive Director for The Vere Institute. I look forward in the next few months to discern with the Vere Board and Stakeholders the next strategic steps that will position us to equip equippers and frontliners for the missional task the church has been called to.
Hear More From Brian
Brian will be joining us on Facebook live February 8 at noon EST. Join us to get to know him better and hear why he's excited to be a part of Vere Institute.