Answering God’s Call to Greenville

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.

The Bitter

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.

The Sweet

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.

The Transition

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). 

3 thoughts on “Answering God’s Call to Greenville”

  1. Travis,
    Over the years of our walk with the Lord we have had occasion to experience God’s preparation for a new chapter in our lives. It’s generally been a sense of God’s leading to simplify our lives and prepare for whatever he calls us to. Then, as you described, the doors start opening and closing, divine appointments made, and you see God’s guiding hand more clearly than ever before. You will be amazed, as I’m sure you have already been, at God’s faithfulness in confirming your call through his word, circumstances and the counsel of Godly friends. We will be praying for you and your family as you expand the reach of the kingdom through this new ministry. The folks there will be blessed and you will be able to erect monuments to his faithfulness as you are carried through the challenges and joys of being his hands and feet. Blessings to you and your family from the Holmes. (Larry, Billie and the crew)

  2. Rocky Creek is where my wife and I were married. They were very hospitable to Kelly and me. I’m encouraged to hear that you’re headed their way.

  3. I have had several God directed, not looked for, calling and sending experiences in my brief 41 years of walking with the Lord. He led me to my precious and wonderful Savior when I was deep in the darkness of sin. Then to a university, NCSU (Go Pack) not so much for a BSME degree but to be heavily discipled in evangelism with Campus Crusade for Christ, now CRU. To knock on dorm doors to share the 4 Spiritual Laws and How to have a Spirit filled life”. He crossed my path in ways that no one could ever make happen on their own with my sweet wife who knew who she was and who’s she was when I first met her. Provided me with 15 job offers and worked out only one that would allow my wife to finish college at ECU in Home Economics and Child Development. Any yes this prepared her to be a Super Mom to our two kids in later years while my job kept me in airports and hotel rooms week after week while she was raising our children. Working with youth groups together, teaching RA’s, singing in the choir, not me, Suzette! Moving to Delaware to help start a Baptist church work there with a bunch of transplants from the South. Out to Ohio and serving in a small baptist church. Taking Avery T. Willis’ MasterLife class for 52 weeks. Going and spreading the seed of the Gospel in the mid-west. Both of our buckeye children were born in the Akron General Hospital. One in the dead of winter and the other in the short fall season before winter. Still youth leaders, then Deacon and on some occasions filling the pulpit as the Pastor Search team I was privileged to be on was searching for a pastor. God brought in a new graduate and his wife that we could nurture and watch grow in the ministry in Ohio. Back to Delaware to a completely different business that required much less travel and a time for spiritual development of our children in the Awana ministry at our church. Then the dream of moving back south and we landed in a suburb of Greenville called SIMPSONville. This was way before that show on TV that we don’t watch. Teaching our children how to speak southern English. Helping develop the life saving airbag business with DuPont. A mission trip to WV and working with a 5-day club in an apartment complex with children with my children. Seeing the toughest girl there come to know Christ. Helping with our youth team that was on the trip. Going to lower WV coal mining town with a coat and blanket team and setting up a little table to share the Gospel with children and subsequently their parents who were listening in. Quite a few trusting in Christ and many seeds that were planted. An invitation to go to Alagoas Brazil and seeing 35 children trust in Christ when I could only speak 2 Portuguese words. A burden for reaching children with the Gospel and a calling to join God in reaching all 550,000 who live in Alagoas. Not knowing how to take the next step and God bringing me to help teach in a new after school club at the local elementary school. The Good News Club, where I was part of an incredible mission team sharing the Gospel with 100’s of children. Being discipled by CEF teacher/trainers who opened my eyes to the sharing of the Gospel to the most forsaken group in the world. Using what I had learned at both the school and during the next 10 trips to Alagoas and seeing literally 1000’s impacted by the Gospel, the power of God unto salvation!!! And an email from the local CEF director in Greenville telling me that they needed another person to join their team and they had been praying much and though it was me. Wrestling with family sifting like no one could imagine over a 2 year period in the middle of responding to this call taking an 80% pay cut in the process. God taking care of us and getting us completely out of house debt so we could adjust to the new salary level. Providing for us insurance through Suzette’s job as a clerk at the High School. Six incredible years with some of the most incredible called co-laborers who worked in the harvest field of the children. Literally 10,000 children being reached with the Gospel in 100 GNC’s and incredible youth to work with in summer missions reaching deep into the communities that we served. Like Philip in Samaria. Working with 2000 of the most incredible volunteers and over 100 churches and pastors. Then another call, Go to Greenwood…that was definitely Gaza in my mind. Do what Lord??? Then affirmation after affirmation to Go. So daily I go to Gaza. Phillip only had to go one time but certainly impacted the nation of the Ethiopian that he led to Christ. Help grow the ministry in size and quality and God reaching 30% of the children’s population with the Gospel over the last 12 months. Giving a vision to reach all the children and potential ways, ideas, really visions of how to make that a reality. Meeting a family with the name of Agnew along the way…who is now my beloved Pastor. Having God replace one awesome co-laborer who God moved to Spartanburg with 3 more heart called and Spirit led co-laborers. And the journey continues….don’t know where it will all go but know the leader who is guiding. Still learning, growing, applying and watching the Lord bring Glory and Honor to Himself…it sure does not belong in the least to someone like me…So my young sweet Agnew family…the journey can be bitter sweet but His plans are so much higher and bigger and better than our comfort zone plans than you can ever imagine…hold on to Him and You will see more and more of His Glory as you journey on…Love you all, praying daily for you all by name and looking forward to all God is going to do in and through each of our lives to build His Kingdom…Blessed are the feet!!!

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