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Why I'm Stepping Down

Journal

Why I'm Stepping Down

Mark Junkans

After over 15 years as the founding President and CEO of LINC International, I am stepping down from my position and handing over the reins to an interim leadership team.

I’ve always believed that most founders shouldn’t stay in their post for longer than necessary. After a period of time, you tend to have had your best ideas and can become stale in your position.  You begin to know the organization so well that it’s difficult to see things with fresh eyes, and begin to take for granted the amazing miracles that happen every day throughout the whole organization.  This is especially true for natural entrepreneurs, who are more energized when starting and creating than when managing for long-term growth.

I’ve observed myself over the past couple of years, and have realized that the organization that has grown so much since our beginning, is in need of new leadership.  I believe that God has gifted me in unique ways, and that these gifts are best used for His Kingdom in a different arena.  I’ve grown comfortable in my changing role over the years, but being comfortable doesn’t always bring out the best in me, and I want to give my best for the sake of Jesus’ mission.  That being said, I have learned a lot about cross-cultural ministry in the city, and am proud of what we have accomplished with God’s help.  And all along the way, it wasn’t easy.

When LINC Houston began in 2001, we were sure about one thing, that new ministries and new ministry leaders were needed to reach our dynamic and diverse metropolitan area.  Houston’s population was already a world mission field, with people from hundreds of language groups scattered throughout our thriving metropolis.  We had great support from local congregations and the Texas District LCMS, but still had to manage to find a way to survive in urban ministry, where sustainability and growth are often difficult.  But we did learn how to survive.

To help grow our mission leadership, we hired a Mission Director, David Kim, who had just graduated from the CMC program at Concordia Irvine.  He and I became a great team as I concentrated on growing the organization and he on growing our leadership and church-planting base.  Together, we saw phenomenal growth in new ministries and disciple-making pastors and leaders for the Kingdom.  I once again felt the call of God to focus on growth and expansion, and began to assist new cities to begin LINC ministries and Dr. David Kim launched the new organization GlocalMission.

Then we changed our organizational model and became LINC Ministries International, an organization that operates in multiple cities and countries to plant ministries through courageous local leaders of impact.  God allowed us to start and support LINC ministries in new places like Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area, Milwaukee, Denver, Andhra Pradesh India, Thailand, as well as relaunch LINC Twin Cities under our umbrella.  We’ve partnered nationally with other mission societies to plant and multiply new ministries among specific language groups.  New LINC ministries are being birthed through our incubation model led by Rev. Dominic Rivkin VP of New City Development, with the same mission of raising up local leaders who start new ministries that impact their communities with the Gospel, and for that I praise God.

  • We have an amazing group of leaders from our City Directors to our local mission leaders.  Everyone in the organization is deeply committed to fulfilling the Great Commission in their community, and are willing to sacrifice much for the sake of the Gospel.  LINC has produced some of the most passionate and committed mission leaders in our church body, most of whom work as partially or completely bi-vocational in their ministry.
  • We have a solid Board of Directors that is clear about their governance role and passionate about the work of LINC.  Together with the board, we have continued to raise more support for the work of LINC each year, and have made wise decisions to set a firm foundation for future growth.
  • We have expanded our available resources by heeding good counsel, taking advantage of opportunity, and by working to systematically improve our donor development systems and the way we communicate the work that God is doing in each of our cities through LINC.
  • We’ve responded to multiple natural disasters by providing emergency relief, disaster case management and home repair.  In fact, LINC was the leading home repair agency in Harris County after Hurricane Ike, restoring almost 500 homes in our low-income communities.
  • We are acquiring new locations for incubating new mission starts.  God has blessed us with the means to do so, and we are committed to making sure that new churches have a place to start from to reach their communities with the Gospel and make disciples of Jesus.
  • We built a robust back office that now supports work throughout the US and other countries.  Matthew Schultz, our Chief Operating Officer, has done a tremendous job of building our accounting systems and development processes to support multiple cities and ministry startups.
  • We built an online/on-demand system for LINC Bible Institute so that we can train new leaders for ministry in our cities and around the world in a way that’s practical and scalable.
  • We are seeing multiplication happen as our new City Directors train, mentor and walk alongside local ministry leaders who are committed to replicating the process with those they are discipling.
  • We designed a completely new outcome model that focuses on the development of leadership from point of engagement through the launching and multiplication of new ministries.  Everything that LINC does on an International, City and local community level will share the same basic principles and desired outcomes.

I am proud of what God has done through this organization so far, and am excited about what He will do in the future.  The LORD is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens! Psalm 113:4.  Most of all, I am proud to have been a part of something that has made an eternal difference in the lives of over 300,000 individuals through the outreach and evangelism ministries of over 50 new mission churches.

What the next chapter holds

I am a starter and a builder, and will always seek new ways to expand the Kingdom of God using my particular passions, gifts and talents.  I have thoroughly enjoyed taking LINC from our first years through various phases of growth.  But I now feel it’s time for LINC to seek out a new CEO who can bring fresh energies along with new gifts of leadership; someone who will build the team even stronger, is excited by our vision, respects our values, and is able to take LINC International to the next level. 

I am as committed as ever to fulfilling the ongoing vision of LINC.  I have also dreamed that my entrepreneurial mindset could be used to further expand the Kingdom of God by creating an alternative revenue stream for ministries like LINC, even as I continue to serve as an ambassador for LINC’s ministry expansion around the world.  As part of a new type of mission endeavor, I will work together with other Kingdom-minded leaders to build Business as Mission models that incubate and grow new businesses to fund mission work as well as create new opportunities to share the Gospel and make disciples among leaders in developing countries.  I will be still be called by LINC, but as a bi-vocational Missionary At Large, and will continue to connect and work with local leaders in various places to grow and expand the Kingdom of God.  

Some are wondering if I’ve lost my mind.  Why would I leave a comfortable position in the organization that I founded and have led for so long, only to take a risk to start a new venture with no assurance of success?  But those who know me best are not surprised that God is leading me in this direction, and I truly believe that this is what God is calling me to do in this new season of ministry.

LINC will not only survive, but thrive. With a strong transitional leadership team, a solid Board of Directors, and a talented, diverse, and hardworking staff, I have no doubt that LINC International is about to enter an exciting new future of growth.  God will fulfill His mission; my prayer is that He also continues to use my wife Natalia and I to do so for His glory.