Thank you Dave

Last night was gutting. The leader of my church stepped down (in person, not via Twitter).

For those of us involved with Conversations the last two weeks have been something of a blur. The pace at which decisions have been taken has left our community pretty shell-shocked as we look to the future.

That future includes Sally, Scott and I joining the Steering Team alongside Ben, B and Adam. And we’re committed to the same reasons that motivated Dave to kick Conversations off in the first place. His stepping down as leader doesn’t alter our vision statement.

  • We will spur one another on to live worshipful lifestyles.
  • We will gather weekly to envision, encourage and restore one another for our mission through the week.
  • We will aim to be relevant to the culture we are part of.
  • We will always encourage people to take the next step in following Jesus.
  • Jesus is all we have, we are nothing without Him.
  • We will teach the Bible and its application.
  • We will form relationships with the intention of supporting others and improving ourselves.
  • We will develop our own and other peoples giftings.
  • We will be a compassionate community reaching out in word and action to those we know and do not yet know in our city and further afield.

What happens next is still falling into place but for now I just want to express my gratitude to Dave.

Dave is a wonderful leader and it has been an honour to be under his authority for the last four years and an incredible privilege to belong to the church he has been responsible for.

Conversations is more than Dave but the character of our community and the lifestyle he has modelled are inextricably connected. There are a lot of things that mark out Dave’s leadership and they’ve helped forge Conversations into a mature Christian community.

Dave is himself. And as a result Conversations is a place of integrity, of vulnerability, of truth and honesty. We are not somewhere full of fakery, of pretence. The things we talk about, the struggles we share and the questions we ask are real and they’re relevant. Conversations isn’t a place where we can shy away from difficult stuff and as a result it’s a place where things get dealt with and moved on from.

Conversations is a place of safety and we all know that. So it’s a place we can be broken and restored but it’s also somewhere that takes risks and isn’t afraid of failure.

Dave has trusted and empowered people to lead. And when they do they do so with authority and are given true responsibility. As a member of this church I have seen people given opportunities to lead – whether hosting, playing music, offering prayer, or preaching – that would have been out of the question elsewhere. It’s just a natural part of how Dave acts. He has encouraged with his words and has invested with his time. As a community we have seen the fruits of that, and far from failing, people have flourished.

Dave is passionate about York and about the heritage of this city in seeking God and being a place that inspired and rehabilitated. As a church we are united around the value of the place where we live and by a shared desire to see people’s circumstances transformed. And that’s something active, not passive. Join us on Saturday to raise some money for Tommy.

Dave is also paassionate about the experience of church being something that makes sense. He also knows that churches mess up and people get hurt and their relationship with God is often coloured by their experience of The Church. That’s the reason why we have church at Vodka Revolution. It’s also the reason why we’re low key. We don’t feel out of place, it is entirely natural and somewhere both Christians and non-Christians feel at ease.

But, above all, Dave has always pointed to Jesus. His preaching has always focused on God’s desire for relationship with us and the first move Jesus took in stepping into our world and giving up everything for us. There is no form over substance when it comes to Conversations. We might lack stained glass, liturgy and dog collars but the substance of our meetings is rooted in those 9 statements at the top of this post.

Dave won’t want us to talk about his legacy, or his contribution. He is definitely much more interested in what God is up to and how we as a community continue to glorify Him. Being part of Conversations feels like being together as family. We are a servant-hearted, welcoming and generous place – it is unrivalled in my experience of church. But times have been good. At the moment they’re not and it’s hard. Last night was difficult because there are unknowns, and concerns, about what happens next so we’re going to be talking with St Mike’s about that but I’m hopeful about what will follow this uncertainty because we’ve been trained well. And Dave has been integral to that.

I hope we can repay his commitment to us by being a source of advice, support and friendship during his time away from leadership. And, when he’s ready, back him in whatever is next on the agenda.

After Ben had given a brief summary of what was happening, Dave commissioned the new steering team and we fielded a few questions. I then kicked off our 14 week series on Nehemiah with the first chapter. It’s a helpful bit of scripture to be studying given the emotions that result from a situation like this. You can read my sermon notes, or grab the (very bog-standard) slide deck if you want to see what they saw.

About Benjamin Welby

Hi, I'm Benjamin Welby. I'm a displaced northerner currently living in Croydon, I church with a group of Christians who meet in a Soho nightclub on Wednesdays and I support Bradford City. I've an academic background in History, Politics and International Development. I work for the Government Digital Service but I left my heart in local government. This blog is infrequently updated and may feature any, all or none of these things...