Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Read at Blaise Baptist on July 21, 2013 in the morning service. To Blaise Baptist Church, By now it is no secret to many of you that Joye and I have been struggling for nearly a year to discern God’s will and what is best for Blaise Baptist as it concerns Blaise’s future. Over the past couple of days as I have been thinking about how to write this letter, my thoughts and emotions have been all over the map. Sometimes I’m really excited and other times – most of the times – I’m sad, a little afraid, and find myself wondering if this is really the letter to write. But in our hearts, we know that this is the right thing to do in order to help Blaise re-clarify leadership roles and move forward with fresh ideas from different personalities. Though, at present, we are not absolutely confident what we will be doing, I am submitting my resignation. As a result, August 18th will be our last Sunday as staff at Blaise Baptist. This will give us some time to prepare ministry leaders for the transition as much as possible. We are considering some really neat options that are more aligned with the vision God has given me for an integrated, church-community, disciple-making ministry model. Eventually we are sure that we will be relocating but not so far away we can’t do lunch every now and then. This has been a hard and draining decision because Blaise has defined who we are as a family through the years. You have partnered with us to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Blaise people have invested deeply in our family. We love this church. Our best friends are the men and women we serve alongside through Blaise Baptist. We have attempted to reciprocate your support, patience and generosity through service and the making of disciples. We have no reservations about calling Blaise Baptist our family, not “church” family, but family. And Blaise will always be Robert, Liz and Holly’s church. Our prayer is that you will not see this as any different than sending out the Whitakers, Rieds or the Sains. That you will partner with us in prayer and fellowship and that you will see that Blaise is simply sending out another family to reach, equip and mobilize God’s people to be on mission for Christ. 17 years ago, after youth pastor Craig Goodwin fell and suffered a life altering brain injury, I walked into a room here at church on a Sunday evening and saw a handful of youth playing games. A deacon, who now is a great friend, was standing next to me and said, “We have got to do something for these youth, Craig is not coming back.” I naively and little arrogantly replied, “Well, the first thing they need to do is stop playing games and get their Bible out.” The deacon said, “Do you want to work with them.” I said, "yes, until you can get somebody." That was 17 years ago. It has been a wild run!! We have seen some pretty incredible things together that evidence a fulfilling ministry that has seen Blaise send the likes of Tim King (Wendy), David Childress (Carmen), Mike Sain (Karen), Dean Sain (Jerri), Alex Sain (Lindsay), Ben Ried (Misty), Tim Ried (Ginnie), Greg Ried (Kadie), Robert Furches (Keri), Tim Lowery (Hollie), Eddie Driver (Johnny Sue), Liz Wu, Jordan Reavis Kopke (Ryan), Scott and Julia Whittaker, Emily Venable, David Monsees, Chris Varnier (Susan), Ethan Curtis, David Boone and I could go on and list dozens more that are serving faithfully in local churches with their families…not to mention our own Paul Stapf, Van Fagan, Daniel Matthews, Joye Furches, Kim Angell, Mark and Gwyn Jones, Scott and Hope Clubb, Steve and Janie Garnett, Mike and Debbie Drayton—and there are more coming down the pipe. Blaise Baptist you are an incredible, wonderful and powerful body of Christ. God has blessed you with wonderfully gifted, servant-hearted and Gospel-centered people. Davie County needs for you to stand steadfast and strong. We have had hiccups, leadership failures, interpersonal struggles but God has sustained us by His mighty and strong righteous right hand. It has been said that a church should be measured by how many it sends not how many attend, in that case Blaise Baptist, you measure up well. I exhort you to adapt, adjust, mobilize and stay the course and keep sending. Bill Phillips, if God so ordains that you become the shepherd of this wonderful body of Christ it will be a source of great blessing to you and Marcia. You will find that these people esteem the Bible to be the very Word of God, they serve unreservedly and they give extravagantly to the end that Christ is preached among the nations. Let me assure you that this course was determined in heaven long before we could come to terms with it. Joye and I are fully convinced that we are headed into a great adventure of faith and fruit, with some risks to be sure, but we are satisfied that the reward is well worth the risk. Besides, what kind of minister would I be, what kind of example to students if I continue to ask you to take risks, give and serve sacrificially and reach for the radical if I myself refused to obey God by moving away from what is comfortable and convenient into the vague and unknown by faith. We have been blessed with great youth workers who are Gospel-centered and Cross-bearing. Tim and Wendy King will coordinate workers who are more than capable of carrying on the student ministry in innovative and effective ways. Mike Drayton and I will meet this week to firm up AWANA ministry plans. I will meet with other ministry leaders to help them move forward. I have to admit that I have purposefully avoided many of you over the past month or so. The magnitude of this decision required purposeful introspection and your words of affirmation and blessing, though well received, sometimes clouded the bigger issue for me. You will be seeing me in the days ahead. Nonetheless August 18th will end the wild and wonderful run as a staff pastor at Blaise but it is not the end of friendships, prayer partners and discipleship relationships that I trust will last into eternity. Next week I will preach a message entitled Bone-Carriers and Armor Bearers and how God changes the world with such people. Blaise Baptist is full of Bone Carriers and Armor Bearers. Joye and I consider ourselves greatly honored to have served alongside you for so long and we know without a shadow of a doubt that you will go on to do even “Greater Things” in the days ahead.
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