This morning, I sent this email to all the staff at Youthworks:

Dear friends,

It is with a heavy heart that I announce that I will be stepping down as Executive Director of Outdoors next week.

They say it’s often a bad idea to make career choices over Christmas, but during our five weeks of holidays in January, Mandy and I prayerfully came to the decision that we would love to return soon to Word ministry in a parish setting.

Two weeks ago I informed the CEO of my intentions to leave Youthworks sometime before the end of this year to become a rector or perhaps an associate minister in a church team.

In the days after that discussion, we both came to the conclusion that it would be in the best interests of our ministry if I chose to vacate my position sooner rather than later, so that Outdoors can have the strongest, most focused leadership possible right now.

With this in mind, I accepted an invitation from Zac to work with him on some special projects and to also do some writing and study whilst I prepare for the move back to parish in the year ahead.

The past two years have been hard for our team as we have seen a drop in the number of guests and as we have felt the impact of decisions that were made that have been painful. These are the challenges of leadership in a ministry like ours which has such a great heritage of Word ministry to children, youth and families.

I have sought to help our team face the future with optimism as the world around us changes. Navigating these changes has been difficult but important, and I know that under God there is still much more for us to do to help build on our foundation of Word ministry as we approach this challenging future.

Nonetheless, over the last few weeks I heard three things that gave me encouragement about the future of Youthworks Outdoors.

Firstly, I spoke to a teacher who has been bringing camps here for seven years, and he told me that in recent years he’s noticed a significant improvement in the quality of the Word ministry of our outdoor ministers.

Secondly, I found out that for January and February our Division has had 17% more guest nights than the same time last year, which is a great start to the year. Having said that, it’s early days for 2012, and too early to call, but it’s a promising start and, I pray, a sign of good things to come.

Thirdly, I heard from the Principal of one of our biggest partner schools who said the reason he keeps bringing the hundreds of students away with us each year is because our staff believe in Jesus and model that to his students.

This is my tenth year at Youthworks and my fifth year at Outdoors, and I’m thankful to God for allowing me to be used by him to bring him glory, both through my strengths and often despite my failings.

I would ask that you would pray for me and my family that God would provide us with a church in which we might serve him with the gifts he’s given us. Please also pray for me that I would adjust well to a very different role within Youthworks, and that I would serve with energy and faithfulness.

At this time, I will be praying that the whole team of Outdoors will come together stronger than ever as brothers and sisters who are united with Christ by his death, and who share in the urgent and important mission to see children, youth and families be raised up as missional disciples to the glory of God,

Jodie.

Please pray for me and my family as we prepare for the next exciting chapter in the story of our lives that the Lord is revealing day by day.