Brian McLaren Remembers Kyle Lake
by Brian McLaren
2005 will be the year many of us in the emergent community will always remember as the year we lost two important people in our lives. Speaking personally, Stanley Grenz was a slightly older brother and wise mentor and friend to me; he passed away in the late winter, suddenly and unexpectedly. Now, this fall comes another sudden and unexpected death: Kyle Lake, a young leader in whom we all saw so much potential.
Kyle was killed in a freak accident on October 30. He was performing a baptism in front of his congregation of 800, and was somehow electrocuted. He leaves behind his wife Jen and three young children, a large extended family, and a grieving congregation, along with a wide network of friends and people who have read his writings.
Three memories stand out when I think of Kyle. First, he was extraordinarily alive. He radiated energy and enthusiasm and zest for life. Whether he was showing you pictures of his family, telling stories about ministry at University Baptist Church in Waco, or talking about a hunting trip on a Texas ranch during his last vacation, his eyes sparkled and he almost glowed with a boyish excitement. It's terrible to think of any young person dying, but for someone as cheerful and vital as Kyle to leave us at so young an age hits all who knew him especially hard.
I will always remember Kyle's zest for learning as well. Whenever we would see one another, he would tell me about books he'd been reading and he'd have some theological questions he wanted to discuss. We'd spend a bare minimum of time in small talk, and then we'd jump in the deep end to talk about matters of significance.
As well, I always had the sense that Kyle was going to do more and more significant things over the years. He was brimming with potential. He had a great attitude, a sharp mind, outstanding charisma and friendliness, a good and pure heart - the kinds of qualities that make Christian leaders both solid and productive over the long haul.
I took a long walk after receiving a number of phone calls from mutual friends with the news. I felt, and feel, the unspeakable loss that this means for Jen and the kids, the trauma it brings to UBC, the broken heart that all of his friends will share, and something more ... the loss Kyle's death means to the whole Christian community. All of us involved in seeking to live and teach the good news of Jesus Christ have lost a good colleague, a good man, a good friend. This has been a tough year. With the untimely loss of a seasoned leader like Stan Grenz, and now an emerging leader like Kyle Lake, it feels like we all have some extra responsibility to share.
I thank God for Kyle. I will miss him. May God give strength to his beloved family to bear the days ahead. May the radiant example of his life inspire UBC and sustain them in their trauma and grief. May we share his zest for life and learning, and may many more young leaders like him arise to follow God in the way of Jesus, serving the church and loving the world with a good and pure heart.