Sunday, April 26, 2015

It's Official!

A week ago I submitted my resignation to First Baptist Church, Ridgway, Illinois. My last official day will be May 31. So, we will be moving to the Alton, Illinois area, where we will plant a church in East Alton. It’s a bittersweet experience. We are excited to begin a new phase of ministry as church planters, but I’m going to miss the Ridgway FBC family.

Twenty-two years ago I came to southern Illinois to serve as the Director of Missions for Saline Baptist Association. I spent nineteen years in that role. During that time I got to know the Ridgway FBC family and developed a closer relationship with them when I first served six months as their interim pastor. I made some real friends during that time and fell in love with the church family. When they called their next pastor I knew he would be serving a great church.

Several years later the pastor resigned to serve another church in Illinois and, again, the church asked me to serve as their interim. I served six months again and then became their pastor shortly after my interim with them was completed.

Two great interims were followed by a great pastorate. When I became their pastor I assumed I would spend ten years with them and then retire. God had a different plan. About a year and a half into my pastorate he began to speak to me about another change in my life. So, after three years as their pastor, I’m off to plant a church in East Alton.

Ridgway FBC isn’t a perfect church. I don’t know of one that is. But they’ve been a perfect church for me. They have loved me and allowed me to share God’s word with them every Sunday for almost three years. I’ve ministered to them and been ministered to by them. We’ve been family, and that’s why I’m going to miss them.

I’m praying God will send them a great man to serve as their pastor. 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

We’ve Been Approved!

A few days ago I received word from the North American Mission Board that we had been approved as church planters. That’s one step closer to becoming a church planter in East Alton, Illinois. But we are not there yet. There are still a few steps that must be taken before we can actually begin planting a church. We must find a supporting church, jobs, a place to live, pack, and move. It seems like a lot that needs to happen, but we’re trusting the Lord to open the doors, and He can make it happen “in a flash.”

A lot of church planters go to plant a church. We are actually going to East Alton to plant multiple churches. How many? Well, that’s in the Lord’s hands, too. We are planning to plant house churches, sometimes called organic or relational churches. This is not a new idea. You will find house churches in the New Testament.

Basically, a house church is made up of six to twenty people who regularly meet in someone’s home. Once a week they come together for a fellowship meal followed by worship and Bible study. These church meetings often last between one and a half and three hours. It is usually inter-generational and is usually not led by a full time pastor.

The desired outcome is that those attending will grow in their relationship to the Lord; grow in community with each other; share the love of Christ where they live, work, and play; and that they will reproduce other such communities of believers. We believe God has called us to raise up a network of these small churches. Our hope and prayer is that many people will come to know Christ and grow in a relationship with Him and with others.

We need help. Here’s how you can help right now.

  1. Pray for a supporting church. We need a church in the area who will agree to support us by receiving our house church as members and by assisting us in our financial accounting needs. 
  2. Pray that my wife and I can find jobs. We are too young to retire and most employers would consider us too old to hire. So, this is definitely going to need to be a “God thing.”
  3. Pray for others to join us in this process. If two or three Christian couples join us we can multiply much more quickly and reach more people for Christ. 

We believe in the power of prayer. Thanks for praying for us.