Today was a big day. After our regular church service we held a congregational informational meeting to roll out a plan of succession between Dave Wick, our outgoing pastor, and myself. The plan would have me taking over as Senior Pastor at Riverview in April of 2015. The church will vote on the proposal in about a month.
For the meeting, I was asked to share some thoughts about my "vision" for the church if I were to become the Senior Pastor, which I did. But, I figured, it's hard to talk about the future without first looking at the past. For me, that's a unique experience, given that I was born into Riverview Baptist Church. What follows here is the section of my remarks entitled "A Heritage of Faithfulness." There's another section entitled "A People On Mission" but I'll save that for another post.
Throughout Riverview's history there are ample evidences of the work that God can do through a people dedicated to his word and to partnering with him in ministry to one another and to the world. This legacy of faithfulness - both of God and the people of Riverview - is one that we can and should fight to preserve. "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12.1-2) The saints who have gone before us have testified to the greatness of our God. Let us do the same.
Additionally, my life is a testimony to God's grace manifested through the obedience of the people of Riverview. I was born into this church 33 years ago and have benefited from this community in every way conceivable. It was the people of Riverview who built in me the foundation of my faith as a young child, teaching me the Bible and calling me to respond in obedience, and then continuing that education as I grew physically and spiritually. It was the people of Riverview who showed me what a community of faith really was, as I was able to observe them ministering to one another and to my family. It is the people of Riverview who now live alongside me, as I raise my own family and bring my children up in the fear and admonition of the Lord. It is the people of Riverview that I see investing in my own children today, as they invested in me so long ago. It was the people of Riverview who walked alongside me as I grew musically, which has become such a significant part of my adult life. It was the people of Riverview who encouraged me to seek God's will for my life in using it to serve him in full time vocational ministry. It was the people of Riverview who financed my seminary education, investing in my theological training and enabling me to be obedient to the call of God upon my life. And it has been the people of Riverview who have allowed me to serve them vocationally for the past 10 years.
Unlike many ministers who stand up to preach on a Sunday morning, when I shake hands with people as they leave the sanctuary, I get to shake the hand of my first grade Sunday School teacher; I get to shake the hand of my former pastor; I get to shake the hand of my best friend's mother and father; I get to shake the hand of the man who has been a mentor to me since I was a teenager; I get to shake the hand of the woman who taught me in Vacation Bible School when I was a child; I get to shake the hands of people my own age who grew up alongside me at Riverview. I get to shake the hands of elderly saints who have watched and prayed for me throughout my journey; I get to shake the hands of people who have invested their own time, energy, and prayers in me since the day I was born.
This is a privilege afforded to a very few ministers, and I am unspeakably blessed for having been a part of the community at Riverview. Indeed, I would not be the man that I am today were it not for my brothers and sisters at Riverview. It is my desire to continue to foster the spirit of faithfulness that has been so evident int he overarching history of Riverview, and specifically for the past 33 years of my life, so each of us can serve the Lord to the extent of the measure of the faith that he has given us.