Sunday, July 5, 2009

a new beginning

Over a year ago I left the pulpit of First Baptist Winnsboro, wondering where life would lead and what might come our way. Twenty pulpits have been opened to me since then, several of them multiple times. Country churches, town churches, and city congregations have each blessed my life. Sharing what God has laid on my heart in those settings has been amazingly gratifying. Several years ago during one of the battles for baptist hearts and minds my friend Bill Bruster suggested that as a pastor and preacher I needed to get "freed up." Though I didn't manage to accomplish that goal as a pastor, as an itinerant preacher I've been astoundingly free.

Each phone call to fill a pulpit is eagerly received. My next booked dates are at churches in Winnsboro on July 26th, and Rayville August 2nd. My personal excitement is already building.

But preaching alone does not completely fill my need to share my calling, my passion, and my gifts with God's people. I find myself yearning for the special relationships that develop when one is used to touch the lives of others in times of crisis and need. Over the past several months I have enjoyed a deepening relationship with pastor Kevin Bates and the sweet folks at Life Church in Winnsboro. This summer I've become a small part of that ministry and really look forward to being of service there. It's not really a job... more like an opportunity to do things I love just because I love them and the people with whom I'm involved.

What I am doing is somewhat fluid. I've done some administrative work in helping out with financial forecasting, and policy and procedure development. A handful of hospital visits have helped me make a few connections, and a soon-to-come blitz of home visits will help establish others. I taught a four week study on spiritual growth on Wednesday nights in June. We're working diligently trying to put together some interest based growth groups for this Fall too. And oh, I seem to have become the "official" service closer-outer on those Sundays I'm present, too. :)

Life Church is a fascinating group, but one which is extremely hard to categorize. The worship is upbeat, contemporary, warm and reverent. The preaching is positive and encouraging. Its people are from all walks of life. Some drive tractors, while others drive Mercedes. No one is taken for granted. Everyone is important. While the congregation is younger than most in Franklin Parish, a few in their 90's enjoy the fellowship too.

It's fun to go to church. Thank you, God.

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