Chip Ingram, senior pastor of Venture Christian Church in Los Gatos, California, announced some “news that’s taken 40 years to come to fruition” to his congregation recently. Ingram, who has pastored the church for nine years now, is stepping down from his position to fulfill a purpose he believes God is calling him to.
“Thank you for your love and support,” Ingram said from the pulpit with his eyes down. He explained he didn’t want to make eye contact and subsequently tear up as he read a pre-written letter expressing his gratitude for the church and the people in it.
For the next 10 years, Ingram is going to shift his focus to a national and international reach. He plans to travel overseas more often, particularly to China and the Middle East. While he plans to keep Venture as his home church, he explained his role at the church is going to change.
Chip Ingram Believes This Transition Is the Fulfillment of God’s Promises to Him
Speaking to the congregation on December 2, 2018, Ingram shared about a couple of key times when he heard God talking to him and how those experiences have shaped his decisions over the years. The first occurred six months before Ingram married his wife, Theresa.
Pulling out notecards he used 40 years ago to write down what he believed God was speaking to him, Ingram said God directed him to Isaiah 42:6, which says “I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles.” At the time, Ingram took this to mean that God would sustain the couple through rough times, which would inevitably come, and that he would lead them even when they didn’t know what they were doing.
Another 20 years passed when Ingram experienced the “most mystical experience I’ve had with the Lord.” While he was walking in a field, Ingram believes God told him, “Chip, I want you to be a catalyst to transform how America thinks about God, how pastors think about preaching, how churches think about their community, and how everyday believers live out their faith at home and at work. Write that down.” Ingram says he pulled out a notebook and God repeated the words so he could write them down.
Ingram believes the fulfillment of these promises from God will come to fruition as he steps down from senior leadership at Venture and focuses more exclusively on the work he’s already been engaged in on a national and international level.
“The church is the only hope for what’s happening in America, and the key to churches is pastors, and the key to pastors is a high view of God,” Ingram explained.
Venture Christian Church Is in a Very Healthy Spot
During his message, Ingram shared how proud he was of the church and how well it is doing. When he came from Atlanta to the Bay Area to fill the senior pastor position in 2009, Ingram said he believed the church would become a voice in the Bay Area and the country. “It’s humbling and amazing,” Ingram said, to lead such an influential church. Ingram also shared that the congregation has given $2.8 million to missions this year alone.
Dean Senner, chairman of Venture’s elder board, echoed Ingram’s view. Senner said the church has prospered over the last nine years under Ingram’s leadership and that it is the “healthiest it’s ever been.”
Senner called Ingram a “terrific friend” and then prayed for him.
Ingram will remain senior pastor until June 2019 or until the next senior pastor is found, whichever comes first. The elder board has formed a transition team which has already begun the search for a replacement for Ingram.