I am convinced God is calling me to become a full-time trainer of trainers. This is a journey He started me on in 2003. I never could have imagined an invitation to a fund-raising dinner would be how he would launch such a transition.
My tenure as the Pulpit Minister of the Stones River Church will close at the end of May. When I announced this on Sunday, March 6, several shared that they have seen it coming for a while. One even asked, “What took you so long?” It has been obvious that catalyzing the spread of the Gospel into new territory has become my passion. God has used this time to prepare me for my next phase of ministry. It has become obvious that a change is necessary.
Debra and I will continue to live here in Murfreesboro. Stones River Church will be our home congregation. But I will be travelling extensively to train others to do what God has been preparing me to do. Ten years ago, I could not have imagined this becoming my passion. Papa God planted a desire to go to Sierra Leone in my heart and then used my travels to that war-torn country to light a fire for the nations to come to know His glory.
My passion had always been local. I could not envision myself working globally. But the sweetest thing is how significant all of my ministry experiences become in this new phase. Before this change took root I had to learn the foundational importance of discipleship. This learning has to be experiential—not just abstract or theoretical. God used Sierra Leone to open me to being discipled by David Watson. Then he called me to start passing on what I was learning to others—men in jail, young adults and anyone who would listen.
While I have thought about this transition since early in 2006, I doubted my training. I have taken one missions course in all my academic work and spent less than three months outside the United States. But God has given me some incredible experiences during the last eight years. (My lack of traditional missions training may have actually made it easier for me to think in non-traditional ways.) My focus on theology has certainly been a blessing. But most of all, God has blessed me with some great mentors.
Most of my thirty-one years of pastoral experience has been solo. Often I lamented feeling like I was attempting to “reinvent the wheel” since I did not have older preachers from whom to learn. But my training in Disciple Making Movements has come through relationships with two men–David Watson and Jerry Trousdale. It is exciting to think about what I have learned from these brothers and the opportunities that will come to work with them in the future. God is good!
Debra and I covet your prayers. We ask you to intercede for us and for the Stones River family. The last thing we want is for this transition to be damaging to this congregation. I want to see it grow and flourish. Pray for the shepherds. Pray that God will show us his plans for the future. This season should prove to be exciting and scary. We can be confident that as God leads us, there will be many blessings to come as we are faithful.
Pray that I will be successful in recruiting partners who will assist us financially. I have always been fearful of fund raising, but I reached the point where not stepping out would result in being disobedient.
Father, I praise you for giving me this passion. I claim your promise to do more than I can think or imagine. Bless me on this journey. In Jesus’ name, Amen.