Good Afternoon Children’s Ministry Leaders,
My name is Brodie Swanson. I have the privilege of being the chairman of the Board of Directors for the International Network of Children’s Ministry (INCM). I am writing this letter today on behalf of myself and the rest of the board to inform you of some changes that are happening within the leadership of INCM. A number of weeks ago, the Board and staff of INCM became aware of some actions taken by our Executive Director, Matt Guevara. The actions of Matt have been troubling, and have demanded the immediate attention of our Board of Directors. Matt has taken some time to write the following words explaining the situation more clearly.
I am a storyteller. Words are a gift God has entrusted me with, and when I steward them well, they point to Him and tell His Story. But other times I steward them poorly, I mismanage them, I use them to tell my own stories and distract from His. A couple of years ago, I found myself reminded of stories that I had long since forgotten. Stories with conflicts I couldn’t resolve and enemies I wasn’t ready to face and so I began to write new stories in hopes over writing over the old ones. I created a place for these stories in a website called the Flannelgraph Gazette. Satire and Sarcasm are old friends that have walked me through good times and bad and I put them to work in a dozen or so humorous articles that poked fun at the challenges of being a Children’s Pastor. But while many of the articles were simply entertaining, several took aim at kidmin leaders that I took issue with, however misguided. I specifically called out Ryan Frank, Martijn Van Tilborgh and their ministry. My words were critical, sinful, and born out of my own deep shame and pain. I am seeking and will continue to seek forgiveness and healing. The healing piece is harder than I had imagined, which is probably why I put it off for so long. As it turns out, facing your demons is harder once you’ve hurt yourself and others trying to outrun them. Because of God’s overwhelming love, I am finding forgiveness and grace in Christ, as well as from the people I have hurt along the way. It is profoundly humbling because it is profoundly undeserved.
I believe in God’s redemptive story more deeply than I believe in any story I may have crafted or even avoided. And so now I will make the time and space for Him to take what is broken and make something new out of it. In order to do that, I will be resigning my role at INCM. I love this community very much and am deeply mournful over my actions so I want to ask for your forgiveness, not out of compassion or care for me, but out of an unwavering hope in Christ and His redemptive power. I’m prayerful and hopeful that God will turn what the enemy meant for evil into a more unified community of children’s and family ministry leaders who champion each other and the mission to share the story God is telling and the part every child has to play.
Upon learning and understanding the extent of Matt’s actions, including the Flannelgraph Gazette, the Board placed him on an immediate leave of absence. We have now chosen to accept his resignation. INCM is an organization that is focused on the Kingdom of God moving forward in powerful ways. We celebrate when other organizations succeed in training, equipping, and inspiring Children’s Ministry leaders. We also grieve when a spirit of competition or tension is evident and overtakes the mission of God’s Kingdom moving forward and children being reached. We feel this has happened very clearly in this situation, and we are taking action to ensure that INCM is operating in a way that is above reproach and is helpful to the broader kidmin community.
The INCM Board has reached out to Ryan Frank, Martijn Van Tilborgh, and the teams they lead in an effort to begin the process of Biblical reconciliation. In these conversations, we have talked of unity, forgiveness, honor of one another, and respect. While we have not found agreement on all fronts, we are grateful for these men and their families. We are grateful for their willingness to engage in these conversations and to work diligently towards unity.
As we move forward, please know that the Board of Directors and staff does not take lightly the trust and relationship that exists between INCM and the kidmin community. While we are grieved by what has happened, we have utmost trust and confidence that we serve a God who is in the business of restoration.
We have asked Michayla White, already a trusted voice and leader within INCM, to be our Interim Executive Director as we seek what God has for INCM and CPC in the coming months and years. The INCM staff team remain unified as they dedicate their lives to the mission of championing kidmin leaders. Their commitment to the Lord, their deep love for this community, and passion for the vision and mission of INCM has been unwavering. We praise God for their service, their embodiment of our values, and how they lean on Him as they create and envision ways to serve you. Together, we look ahead to what God has for all of us with great hope and unshakable faith.
On behalf of the board and the INCM staff team please know, it is truly our honor to serve you. We covet your prayers for wisdom for us as we move forward and for Matt as he journeys towards wholeness. If you have any questions about this or other matters regarding INCM or CPC, please send an email to email@example.com and a member of the Board will respond to you promptly.
On behalf of the Board of Directors
– Scott Larsen
– Todd Leidall
– Melissa J. MacDonald
– David Kim
– Chris Corbett