Paul thanked God every time he thought about the Philippian church because of the gospel partnership they shared. Likewise, I thank God for each of you!
Someone asked me recently if this ministry is going to be my new career. God called me to ministry over three decades ago on a winding country road in Barbour County Alabama. Since then I have lived out my call through pastoral ministry in established churches. I never seriously considered doing anything else. I love Jesus, and I love the church. As we have done in the past, Melanie and I will go wherever the Lord tells us to go and do whatever he tells us to do. We started this journey together a long time ago. Obedience has always been our desire. I love serving the local church as a pastor, and I continue to be considered for several pastoral vacancies.
Recently I have been praying about the possibility of moving into a different role. Six months ago my friend and mentor, Joe McKeever, asked if I had ever considered associational missions. Joe retired as Director of Missions for the New Orleans Baptist Association. He suggested that my experiences in ministry, my passion for church revitalization and my commitment to missions would make me a good fit for where associational work is headed. Several friends who are currently serving as directors of missions affirmed Joe’s observation and suggestion.
In early April I was having a conversation with Paul Blanchard. Paul is the Associational Missions Director for the Winston Baptist Association here in Louisville, MS. In the course of our conversation, he asked the same question Joe had asked, “Have you ever considered associational missions?” He gave the same reasons Joe had given. I smiled as I told him about the conversation six months earlier. He encouraged me to pursue it and suggested I set up a meeting with Ken Rhodes at the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board in Jackson.
On the Sunday night before I was scheduled to meet with Ken, a member of the church where I have been preaching regularly for the past five months stopped me after church and asked, “Have you ever considered associational missions?” Shirley is quite active in the ministry of our local association. This time I laughed out loud. As I explained to her that she was the third person to ask me that question and that I was scheduled to meet with Ken Rhodes the following morning, I winked toward heaven and said, “Lord, I’m listening.”
I tell this story to let you know that I am still open to serving as the pastor of a local church. I love the local church, and I love being a pastor. But it seems that God may be moving me towards associational ministry. Multiple friends and colleagues have encouraged me to pursue this, and so I have prayerfully asked some of them to share my resume with associations as they are led to do so. Please join me in praying for wisdom and discernment.
In the meantime, I continue to give myself to the ministry of church revitalization through this platform. I am doing this today because it is in front of me. I don’t know where the Lord will lead in the future, but right now he has given me this ministry. I am doing this today because I enjoy it. There is great satisfaction in writing, preaching and helping churches. Even if the Lord leads me to serve as a full-time pastor or director of missions, I will likely continue to do this on the side. In the meantime, I am going to keep doing what I’m doing. I am called to serve the Lord by serving his church, and this is a way to do that. I am doing this today because it’s a matter of obedience.
Ministry Highlights for April
This ministry exists to provide resources for church revitalization through preaching, writing, leadership development, church consultations and transitional pastor ministry.
Preaching – Since I started this journey last Fall I have missed only five Sundays preaching. All five of them were my choice. God has blessed! During the month of April I preached all five Sundays at three different churches. I made some new friends, and I grew to love some existing friends even more.
Writing – I have grown to really love the ministry of writing. Articles are a primary resource for church revitalization. They also give exposure to the ministry. The article Pray for Your Pastor posted on April 18th continues to get clicks and has become the most-read piece I’ve written so far. I am thankful to my friend Joe McKeever for posting it on his Facebook page. Joe has a gazillion followers, and the exposure has helped increase traffic on my website. The Alabama Baptist newspaper also helped increase visits to the website when they ran the article Facebook, the Culture War, and the Four-Way Test in their print and online editions.
Consultations – During the month of April I had one preliminary consultation with a church. It is exciting to help a group of church leaders see their present reality through the eyes of Christ. It is even more exciting to see them step toward their future with hope. I am continuing to develop and promote Revive&Revitalize! and Comprehensive Consultations as effective tools to assist churches in need of revitalization.
Transitional Pastor Ministry – I also added certification as a Transitional Pastor to my credentials during the month of April and started a Facebook group for Alabama Transitional and Interim Pastors. The group is an online network of pastors, directors of missions and state missionaries who are committed to serving churches during the transition between pastors. Its purpose is to share helpful insights unique to interim pastorates and to facilitate connections between pastors and churches who are seeking Transitional Pastors or Interim Pastors.
Even in the uncertainties of this journey God is blessing our ministry, and I am looking forward to each step along the way – wherever and whatever that step may be. In the next several weeks, Melanie and I will have to make some major decisions. We are also facing some fairly large financial hurdles in the immediate future. Pray that we would have wisdom and discernment. Our desire is to walk in in the wonder of God’s Shadow Step! Thank you for your continued partnership.