For the last twelve years I have been honored to serve Southwestern Seminary in different capacities. Sunday, Jan 15, I will assume the assignment as Pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Little Rock, AR. Immanuel is a wonderful place with a remarkable place in Southern Baptist life.
I was born in Little Rock, my parents were married at Immanuel and so, while I have never lived there, I feel as if I am coming home. We are thrilled at the new challenge and our peace in this transition is really profound! We have been overwhelmed by God’s graciousness in allowing us to come to this new place of ministry and have been overwhelmed by the graciousness of the people. For those interested I want to share a little bit of the process of how God led us. The rest of the story.
For a while God has been stirring something in my heart. A restlessness. My grandfather told me that when God transitions us there is often both a push and a pull. I have found that rarely do the two synchronize. For a little while we have sensed God moving in our hearts but no pull to any specific place.
In January of 2016 I sensed that preachingsource.com and the preaching conference were two very pressing initiatives that God wanted us to get moving. Since the spring, due to the hard work of the team in the Center for Expository Preaching and the communications team, those two things have gone in full swing. I am thrilled with the look, feel, and reception of preachingsource.com and am super excited about the upcoming conference on Text-Driven Preaching!
As those assignments were nearing completion we were contacted by Immanuel Baptist Church in Little Rock. The conversation began and over many months of gut wrenching thought and prayer, it became increasingly clear that this is what God wanted for us.
I say gut wrenching because after 12 years, Southwestern is home. I also say gut wrenching because God is leading us away from a place He led us to. This is all so counter intuitive. Yet, God’s promises are eternal, His places of service are not. Moving His people seems, all throughout the history of his work, just something He does. His ultimate affection for us means we lose ultimate affection for locations. Who we serve trumps where we serve.
When I finally got to a place where I could articulate that, which is another story, God freed me to really listen to the pastoral search team at Immanuel. So, in the end, the process was also gut wrenching for the reason that God did not want me to go off to the next thing before I could articulate some things. I am so grateful for this. Once that lesson was learned, I could graduate from that class, and matriculate into the next one. Finishing and starting. Running and completing. This is what the believer’s life is all about.
Through this process Dr. and Mrs. Patterson have been so gracious to us. I am so grateful to have served him these 12 years. When I was undeserving he gave me an opportunity to teach and lead. I’m so grateful.
We are leaving family here in Texas. I will miss them. And we are leaving friends who are like family. Words could not express our gratitude to them.
I am also leaving a staff that is as stout as one could imagine. Really, this team is quite amazing. While it is a slippery thing to name names, I will always be grateful to my immediate staff, Adam Mallette, Meagan Lacey, Kyle Walker, Daniel Dickard, and Bruce McCoy. These people are way-makers. Man, so amazing and I am grateful. It is great to leave with a strong relationship with both my employer and employees.
Gratitude is also expressed for Jack Graham, Jarrett Stephens, and Prestonwood Baptist Church. Through some trying times for our family they have been there for us in a thousand ways: encouraging us, befriending us, and allowing me to teach and preach. I’ll always be grateful.
The mission to “Preach the Word and Reach the World” is dear to me. So I’m grateful to be able to teach a course (adjunctively) when I am able, and am very excited to remain as the General Editor for preachingsource.com. There are still some academic writing projects I am working on (one to be released in the summer!) and I am grateful for this as well. The call to train and serve pastors has not gone away.
It’s hard to describe how at peace we are; especially in light of the fact that we have been here so long and are leaving a place we love so dearly. I guess it’s predictable for those who have experienced it. So the rest of the story? Well, when people ask why I would leave the answer is as simple as the awesome predictability of God’s peace in our hearts. The rest of the story is the rest in the story. That’s all really. And we are so grateful.