It seems like yesterday that I was singing “Georgia on my Mind” to Matthew as we crossed the boarder into Augusta with the Ryder Rental Truck, but it has almost been two years. Time flies when we are busy with good things. The dust is beginning to settle but it seems like I just arrived.
I would like to take you back two years and reveal a few things that I shared with the pulpit committee as they were making their fateful decision to recommend me as your pastor.
“I am a preacher-pastor. I love to preach and I love the people. I provide vision and direction but I need others to catch the vision and run with it.”
I do love this congregation and I thoroughly enjoy preaching Christ through the Word to you. When I feel well received, supported and encouraged, I can preach with a great deal of freedom and I have never been freer than I am now. I thank God for your prayers and encouragement.
We have implemented two major changes since I arrived. First, we have added Patrick as a pastoral intern. I am excited for Patrick’s ministry among us, and not only for his work with our youth but also for assisting me in other pastoral duties such as preaching, teaching, leading and visiting. He has already been an encouragement to me and brought new energy to the ministry. Second, we have a new ministry team structure which, I believe, will intentionally focus the gifts of our church toward the goals of our ministry. I can point the way, but for the church to live up to its potential, we need every member to plug in and do the one, small part that God has individually equipped him or her to do. I believe that this will reduce the likelihood of burnout, while at the same time multiplying the effectiveness of our ministry.
“I work well with active, shepherding elders, not a board of directors. I like co-laborers not passive decision makers.”
I was searching for elders that I could work with and not work for. Your elders have been a great blessing to me as we work shoulder to shoulder in ministry to the people of God. I have found the session to be humble, godly and wise servants. It has been a joy to get our hands dirty in ministry together. They are my brothers and, in many ways, my betters and I rejoice to call them friends.
“I am a (theological) conservative, but am tired of conservative errors. I am old school in doctrine but do not wish to preserve a 19th century church. I desire the old truth to come to a living expression in our day. I like to hide behind the Word of God and the Confessions.”
I love the reformed faith because I find that it neatly summarizes the teaching of the Word of God. I am a rock-ribbed conservative and a Puritan enthusiast, but my great desire is to be a winsome Calvinist. I want the truth come alive for people. I want Christ to be our wisdom and our friend. Too often we conservatives merely want to be correct and to embalm an earlier manifestation of the faith. We need the gospel to take deep, living root in this generation.
“I am never planning on retiring, but I do want my remaining years of ministry to be fruitful.”
I became a grandfather right before your eyes! I am old; and not getting any younger. My great passion is to see the church thrive. I want my last years to be my best years of ministry. I do want to see a revival. I do want to see the church operating on all cylinders. And we can get there together as we seek the blessing of the Lord.