The Synergy Shift by Rev Dr Shannon E Karafanda
Synergy is the interaction of elements that when combined produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual contributions. This is the true story of a new church start that overcame grief and loss to focus on what really matters: our relationship with God and others. Through these relationships, the synergy allowed us to keep moving and growing.
Synergy is that moment when different elements come together to create something that couldn’t be done alone. In 2006, I began working with Allan Todd to start a new church. A different church named Lighthouse United Methodist Church. A church that we believed was what God really wanted us to offer to the people of Fayette County, Georgia. Our focus was on innovative, contemporary worship and frequent service projects in our local community. As we met each day to dream about what we wanted this church to look like, we discovered that we created synergy. Our launch team was excited for our grand opening on August 13, 2006 that would offer an exciting new concept to our community.
On August 3, 2006, Allan passed away suddenly. The moment Allan died, my life changed completely. There was a hole in my heart that ached to be filled and my life seemed so foreign to me. My life with Allan, before and after his death, was segmented into two moments of time and it all happened in a matter of minutes. Grieving and healing had to be put on hold. We still had a church to start. Even if we didn’t have our Senior Pastor, we were going through with it. I held everything together as best I could until a new Pastor could be appointed. Eight weeks later, Mark Jordan was appointed to Lighthouse. I was relieved and excited but also ready to grieve and heal. Healing took much longer than expected, but the journey with Mark made things much smoother. He taught me things I didn’t know I needed to learn and brought healing to a congregation whose faith was on the edge. Mark was a completely different person than Allan. He was younger, shorter, more organized, and more technological. Best of all, he had a gift of pastoral care that nurtured us without compromising the vision of a church with innovative worship, a focus on service, and radical hospitality. Mark always remembered a name and a face and he never met a stranger.
Although the initial meeting with him brought up mixed feelings, it wasn’t long before we got into a groove of working together and created synergy with the other leaders at Lighthouse. What I thought I’d lost with Allan, I recovered through Mark by being able to know how he worked, share work frustrations, and move forward as a team. .The synergy hadn’t gone away. It just shifted. This true story is about dealing with the loss of someone who taught me so much and overcoming grief to learn to create synergy again. Along the way I learned a lot about myself and human nature and have been very blessed to feel God’s presence through it all.