Last week I mentioned on our Facebook and Twitter, that I was starting a new series called “Why…?” Basically these posts will answer questions submitted by people concerning my faith journey, my life (past, present, future), or questions about faith in general. I’m looking forward to this series, and hope to answer one question a week.
The first question came almost immediately after I “tweeted” about the series: why did you move away to Greenville? It was asked by my friend Mike, and though it may have been a joke, it was a question asked 🙂
As I have written before, in October 2013, I started a new position at a Christian & Missionary Alliance church in Greenville, OH. My new position is that of Associate Pastor, with the hopes of transitioning into the Senior Pastor role when our current pastor retires. For my wife and I, this position is like re-planting a church in Greenville. And this excites us extremely. However, our move wasn’t without some lessons learned.
God compels us
In 2013, three years into serving a great church and a thriving student ministry, God began doing a work in me I didn’t expect. His challenge to me was to move forward and deeper with Him, no matter what was being asked of me. In this move God began rekindling my passion for missions. He also, though, began speaking to my heart that now was the time to focus on church planting and “stepping up” in my pastoral role. I went into ministry believing I would retire at 80 as a youth worker. I had given up (sort-of) on being a missionary in other lands. I kept church planting on a back burner. However, God was pushing all three things forward and deeper into my mind and heart. I was beginning to think about these things all the time – even in my dreams.
I started teaching more about missions, trusting in God, and fully surrendering everything to Him during our youth nights. I was also given more opportunities to preach about the same things during Sunday mornings. However, the more I taught people to surrender everything and to follow God no matter how crazy things seemed to be, the more I convicted myself, and I knew I had to make a choice. I was either going to continue ignoring God, and thus become a teaching hypocrite, or I was going to jump off the ledge, resign from my position, and step into the unknown with God.
In August 2013, I chose the latter. This past October I started at Greenville Alliance, and in December we officially moved to Greenville.
We didn’t move for a better position or a bigger church. We didn’t move out of anger. And we didn’t move without hesitation. We moved because God compelled us – His love, grace, presence, and working in this situation was too much for Emily and I to ignore. We could not help but move forward and deeper with Christ.
The Father has given us a love for the people in our church and in our town. In what may be a strange statement, I can honestly say that I would die for this congregation if I had to. I know I’ve only known these people since October, but this love and passion I have for them is genuine – and I know only God could have put it there. When I think about our church, and where God wants to take our church (and how He wants to use us), I well-up with emotion. I have never been in a position where this has happened so quickly, and where the love has been so deep. I can’t explain it, other than God is the source behind everything.
There is much to do in Greenville – within our church and outside the walls of our church family. What exactly will we be doing? What plans does God have for us? Other than loving on people and building up the church, we don’t have any set plans – YET. I look forward, though, to be detailing plans and dreams for our church and Greenville via this blog. The sky is the limit really. And with God at the helm, nothing will be impossible to overcome or put into motion.