Well, folks. This is it. The end of World Next Door.
It’s a very bittersweet thing to say. I have dedicated the last six and a half years of my life to making this organization exist and grow, so it’s definitely not easy to say goodbye. That said, I am absolutely thrilled with how God used our ministry to connect global leaders and engage suburban Americans in his mission. And I couldn’t be happier with how well we ended things.
On this, the last blog post for our organization, I want to share a few details about WND’s end and answer a few frequently asked questions. After that, it’s on to my next job (see below).
Thanks again to all of our faithful readers, volunteers, donors, prayer-team members, summer interns, year-long fellows, and short-term trip participants. It’s been a wild ride!!!
Our Final Event
On May 9, 2015 we had a wonderful finale event: our first (and only) Global Leadership Seminar. We flew in leaders from six of our partner ministries and had them teach us about their perspective on surrender, trust, the global Church, modern missions, and the kingdom of God. It was AMAZING.
The really good news is that we were able to record the entire event and post the videos to Youtube! Below is a playlist you can watch. If you want to view the videos on Youtube directly, you can click here.
One of the most amazing things to come out of nearly six years of constant travel has been the vast quantity of stories I’ve built up – stories of hope, life, and justice from all corners of the globe. When the prospect of ending WND became clear, I knew I needed to capture these stories in a format that would last longer than simply a few dusty old blog posts.
So I wrote a book! It’s called Into the World Next Door. Right now it’s available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle versions. I’m really proud of the way it turned out. Oh, and guess what? I am giving all of the proceeds away to WND’s partner ministries.
Click here to purchase the book on Amazon.
Why End WND?
There are a few different reasons we are bringing the ministry to a close. Primarily, we chose to end WND because our day-to-day operations were no longer bearing the fruit they once did. Over the last few years, we continued churning out phenomenal magazines and blog posts, but our readers had begun to engage with media very differently. We simply couldn’t maintain the level of readership with the resources we had on hand.
At the same time, we were seeing a LOT of fruit in areas we didn’t expect. Our newfound influence, growing connections with global partners, and increasingly deep understanding of global issues were allowing us to accomplish our mission in ways that had very little to do with journalism. The only problem was that this wasn’t the core of our ministry. It was a byproduct. It would have taken a radical re-organization of WND to begin expanding in that area.
So, in the summer of 2014, our leadership team began the conversation of what it would look like to bring our ministry to a close. This would allow us to use these “fruitful byproducts” more directly, perhaps in other ministries. It didn’t feel like a defeat at all. In many ways we had accomplished our mission, and had seen God work through our organization to get suburban Americans engaged with the poor and marginalized around the world. We felt good about winding things up after such a great run.
Instead of just fizzling out, however, we wanted to end on a really high note. So we hosted an amazing event, the May 9 Global Leadership Seminar, and released my book (see above). We couldn’t have asked for a better finale!
What will happen now?
So now this website, our digital magazine, and our social media feeds will go “dormant.” We’ll keep them online for those looking to continue engaging with the content we produced, but nobody will be monitoring, adding to, or editing these pages anymore.
Then, over the next few weeks, we will be wrapping up the administrative details necessary to end a non-profit. After that, WND will be done for good.
As for me, I’ve got a whole new adventure ahead of me, and even though it doesn’t involved eating tarantula or sleeping homeless in New York, I think it will be one of my greatest challenges yet.
My Next Steps
Back in the winter of 2013 I learned I was being considered as a potential candidate to become the successor to the senior pastor at Grace Church in Noblesville, IN. This came as a pretty big shock, since I had honestly never seen myself in that role.
In fact, I actively DIDN’T want that job. My dad, who is the current senior pastor, had sacrificed so much leading the church and I simply didn’t want the pain. Plus, I knew how cliche it would be for a son to succeed a father as the senior pastor of a megachurch and imagined many raised eyebrows from suspicious congregants. No thanks!
It took several more months for the “Leadership Continuity Team” of Grace (which my dad now had to recuse himself from!) to make a formal invitation for me to be interviewed. When they did, I searched my heart and prayed long and hard about it. What I eventually realized (after many agonizing hours of wrestling with God) was that I was called to the community of Grace Church. On top of that, my last six years of world travel had given me a perspective on the Global Church our congregation desperately needed. It felt quite clear that God was leading me in that direction.
Long story short, I interviewed, got approved, and am now entering a three-year “pastoral residency” program, where I will become the Associate Pastor of Access, the young-adults ministry at Grace. Throughout that time, I’ll be working with the Governing Board to evaluate whether God is continuing to lead us in this direction. If he is, and I’m voted in as the official successor by the church’s membership, I’ll enter a two year transition phase with my dad, after which I’d be senior pastor of Grace.
It’s kind of crazy, but I’m starting to get really excited about the possibilities in front of me. I know the many global leaders I’ve had the privilege of working with because of World Next Door will continue to influence me as I influence this congregation. I know the lessons I’ve learned in developing partnerships will play a big role in the future expansion of Grace onto the world stage. And shoot. I’ve eaten goat brains in India, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, and lived in a Haitian refugee camp. At the very least I’ve got a few good sermon illustrations to draw from.
So yeah. That’s what’s next for me.
For now, though, I’d like to say farewell to World Next Door. It’s been an honor and a privilege leading this ministry over the years, and I can’t imagine who I would be if I hadn’t had my life changed by our many incredible partners.
Thanks again for believing in what we were about, all. I’ll catch you on the other side!
About the Author: Barry is the founder and Executive Director of World Next Door. A storyteller, traveller and giant nerd, he lives to compel suburban Americans to get engaged with social justice and find their place in God's kingdom revolution. His ultimate dream is to adopt a pet monkey named Kevin.