I have never truly known the meaning of “bittersweet” until now.
This morning, Rocky Creek Baptist Church in Greenville, SC called me to shepherd their congregation in the role of Senior Pastor. Our family is answering God’s call to serve the Greenville community with the gospel. This congregation is committed to making disciples that love, grow, and serve through intentional relationships, and we feel confident that God has placed our family and this church family together for such a time as this.
When churches, jobs, and families are involved in such a transition, there is no perfect way to communicate a change like this. While a blog post is informal, I truly wanted the information to come from our family and not from hearsay. While I was away from North Side this morning, I preached for Rocky Creek, and the church has decided to place me in this role. While I have much to say and much to do in this transition, I want to at least summarize a few things about this bittersweet transition.
Preparing to transition from the family at North Side is a bitter thing. If you think that a move like this is a sought after change in a career path, you could not be further from the truth. The people of North Side are the reason I have said no to opportunities in the past and the reason I struggled with the opportunity presented at Rocky Creek. We absolutely love the people of North Side Baptist Church.
As a pastor on staff, I have had the privilege of serving the most incredible congregation alongside the most incredible staff. On a regular basis, I was overwhelmed that I could lead in any capacity the type of people who belong to this church. I came on staff as College and Missions Pastor, moved to Worship Pastor, and then concluded my time as Family and Worship Pastor. I joked that at some point, they were going to find something I was good at and keep me there!
As a member of the church, there is not an element of my life that has not been influenced by the people of North Side. While I have been on staff for almost 14 years, I have been a member much longer. I grew up in this church. I started volunteering as a teenager and came up to help almost everyday. I have poured sweat and tears into this congregation for which Christ shed his blood (Acts 20:28). And they have done the same for me. Even while we know God is calling us to another role, we are in an absolute state of grief. We have attempted to live with this church in the meeting place and in our homes (Acts 20:20). This is not a job – this is our family. This change is bitter.
This change is also sweet. In order to keep this post brief, I will not be able to tell all the God-sized connections that aligned our family with the Rocky Creek family. In the days to come, I want to share what God did to bring all this together but trust me when I say that God made it obvious that this change was led by him. I was not looking and did not have a résumé together when God first intersected us. This move was not on the radar. We were not looking but we believe God was orchestrating so many events to close certain doors and open other doors.
I fell in love with the search team the moment they prayed over me. I fell in love with the staff the moment they prayed over Amanda and me. I have found kindred spirits in the people here.
Their heart to be the hands and feet in Greenville and their desire to take the gospel to the nations through partnerships resounded in my spirit. Their eagerness to push in to make disciples inspired me. There is a spiritual depth to the conversations with the members that I have been amazed by. Their willingness to use their gifts, service, homes, buildings, resources, and lives to make much of Jesus caused me to love them while we were just in the exploratory process. The people of the church and the incredible ministries that they have involved themselves with makes me eager to serve with them let alone lead them.
I will work another 2 weeks at North Side and serve for 2 more Sundays (Jan. 29 and Feb. 5). I will begin serving at Rocky Creek on Feb. 6 and preaching regularly on Feb. 12.
I will begin preaching through a book study of Jonah on Sunday mornings. On Sunday evenings, I will lead a discipleship course where we will focus on prayer. I want our first few weeks together to focus on developing a missionary heart to the city of Greenville and relying on prayer for a mighty move of God among us.
While our church membership will change in the next two weeks, we will not be moving right away. We have so much to do in the next two weeks that we are going to make the church transition first, catch our breath, and then lean in on God’s timing for the move. While changing cities is a big move, we are thankful that we are not traveling too far down the road. We have also been super encouraged reconnecting with people in the area. We have been overwhelmed by the amount of people from all over who have told us in the last few weeks that God had encouraged them to pray for our family more in the last year.
God has been up to something, and while we are unsure of the way, we are sure of who is leading.
We appreciate your prayers for both congregations and our family in the weeks to come. For God’s Kingdom to be known throughout all the earth, we say, “yes.” We have been thankful for how the Lord has used our families in the past, and we look forward to what is to come.
I will be sharing some more stories and details in the days to come, but right now, we pray that you join us in praying a prayer that we have prayed, but pray it over your own life: “LORD, teach us to number our days so that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Ps 90:12). Our prayer has been that we would be obedient to whatever God would call us to in order to hit the biggest lick for the Kingdom that we could hit.
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going (Heb. 11:8).