Here's your hat. What's your hurry?
Last night was the first worship service of Providence Church, a Reformed & Southern Baptist congregation. Consequently, I started a new job as the pastor of Providence Church. It's a long story how I left one church and was part of forming this one.
I'll just say this, I'm not the first and I certainly won't be the last pastor who was no longer welcome. As a member of the congregation for ten years and the pastor for more than 6.5 there's an element of sadness and personal hurt from being treated with suspicion and distrust to the point of having the locks changed and seeing your name quickly painted over on the church sign.
Yet, it's only fair to note that I was also disgruntled, being unhappy with that had transpired. The three trustees repealed the bylaws and removed the advisory council, leaving themselves in charge with no accountability to the congregation. With every indication being that would not change, I could not in good conscience submit to that type of government ruling over a disenfranchised congregation. In spite of it all, I was really hoping it would be an amicable split, but that has unfortunately not been the case.
Murphy Road Baptist Church was gracious enough to allow us the use of their facility tonight and we are so grateful. Ironically, I was entrusted with a key to their building. Their pastor, the Rev. Dr. Mark Forrest has been a great support, encouragement, and advisor during my first pastorate and for that I will be eternally grateful. I'll have to handle up if his congregation ever gives him some of what I received.
But, oddly enough I'm not bitter or even still harboring feelings of disappointment. Instead, I'm grateful for the experience I gained and the relationships I have cultivated during that time. I'm appreciative of God's providential care that has brought us to this place and time.
I can honestly say that I'm excited about what the future holds, because I know Who holds the future. God in His providence has put me in a situation that I never would have sought or chosen, starting a church plant. I know I would not have chosen this because I have friends who are doing it (e.g., Christ's Community Church & Destiny Church) and I know the uphill battle it can be. But I also know the joy they've experienced in being a part of the birth of a congregation.
I'm an inertia type and I know I would have stayed in the same congregation unless something forcibly compelled me to no longer be an object at rest, but rather one in motion. God knew what He was doing getting me some pastoral experience from which to rely and some great relationships that have been formed with people who will make this adventure successful.
I preached on Ephesians 4:11-16 last night about the marks of a church that is dangerous to the forces of darkness in advancing the kingdom of God by being light in a darkened world. I look forward to going forth with such a great group of people.
I felt hurried out the door, but I think it will be for the best. God in His providence has formulated Providence Church in His timing and with His people. I ask your prayers for us in this time of transition, which will be difficult starting from scratch (needing hymnals, chairs, our own location, etc.). But, God has demonstrated His faithfulness in the past and we trust Him for future grace as well.