Although I shared this at Raleigh Road Baptist Church following morning worship, I wanted to share it here for those who were not in attendance.
Beginning in the late summer / early fall of 2014, we have had contact with a number of churches, denominational agencies, and even schools about roles that would move us from here at Raleigh Road. One of those churches was a fairly large church located about 30 minutes from my parents. Other opportunities were here in NC, SC and a variety of other places. In every case, we prayed, sought the counsel of trusted friends, and decided to continue to serve right here.
On December 3rd, 2015 I was contacted by the search committee at First Baptist Church in Charlottesville, VA (www.fbcparkstreet.com) in connection with their search for a Senior Pastor. I had done some research on the church to determine my level of interest. I found the church had a rich history of strong biblical preaching, church planting, and significant missions involvement. So, I proceeded in having conversations with their search committee during December and January.
During that time I kept Franklin Witter – our Personnel Chair and an Overseer – in the loop as to what was taking place. In late January, Susy and I visited Charlottesville to formally interview with the Pastor Search Committee at First Baptist Charlottesville. At that point, I notified the entire Overseer body as well as Pastor Joe and Bill about what was taking place.
After our weekend in Charlottesville, their committee asked us to come back on Sunday, February 28th to preach in view of a call, which we agreed to do. After several thoughtful discussions with the Overseers, we concluded that it would be best for as few as people to be aware of what was happening until today. Here at Raleigh Road, we have built a culture of transparency in all things. That is why I am taking the unusual step of sharing this with you. Very few pastors would dare to inform their churches of something like this ahead of time, but we are not most churches. We have sought to create a culture here in which it is “normal” for me, as your pastor, to want you to pray for this situation.
We also want you to know that this has not been an easy process. Susy and I have agonized over it, prayed over it, sought the counsel of others over it, and have had many long talks with each other about it. We love this church. We love you. Engaging in this process has not changed that and could never change it. We need you in this process. We need your prayers.
At the outset of this announcement, I shared other opportunities that have presented themselves to us so you understand that we are not desperately looking to leave RRBC. If we were, we have had several opportunities to do so over the past 18 months. We do want to desperately pursue God’s call on our lives, whether that is here or there, or wherever the Lord may lead.
I know some of you will be surprised by this announcement. Some may be disappointed. Some may be worried. And others may even be angry. I understand those emotions. But, I would encourage you to turn all of those emotions toward one thing: depending on God for the future. And, let us be mindful of Paul’s words to the church at Corinth: “What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe – as the Lord has assigned to each his task” (1 Cor 3:5).
We would ask you to pray that God would make his will unmistakably clear in this process. If that is for us to go to FBC Charlottesville to serve as their next Senior Pastor, we will rejoice in that. If God chooses to use us in a different way for FBC Charlottesville and to remain at RRBC as your Senior Pastor, we will rejoice as well!
We covet your prayers and we will share the outcome of the vote at FBC Charlottesville via my Facebook page on Sunday, February 28th.