By Pastor Scott Willet (August 2018)
Like everything else, churches have different seasons of life. As I look back upon the past 2-1/2 years of my life and ministry among you, I can identify three such distinct seasons. There was, of course, the interim season, when I arrived with the intention of staying for six months. I still remember with fondness the refreshment of those months, as you welcomed me so warmly and responded to my ministry so enthusiastically. I am thankful for the fruit which the Lord brought about through those months, and for the stability He gave to the whole church during a time when great transition could have become a time of very unsettling upheaval. Thankfully, there was no such distress.
Then came the season of uncertainty, as the Pulpit Search Committee was formed and gave careful consideration to calling me to come permanently as your pastor. I was certainly thankful for the final determination of that committee and the congregation after those months, thankful for the confidence and encouragement you gave to me as you chose to call me to be your pastor. The uncertainty of that time was, of course, sadly magnified by the actions of those from my previous church who had filed charges against me, charges which were the occasion for others in our presbytery to use in an attempt to prevent me from being installed as your pastor. It was such a relief to me, with more than a little sense of vindication, when those charges were finally and rather resolutely dismissed.
Thus the third season of our time together, the time of transition as you and I both have now settled into this new and permanent relationship between a pastor and a congregation. I’m no longer new, and there is no sense of anything temporary. The past now lies behind us and the future lies ahead. What a joyful blessing that has been for me, as you continue to receive me and my ministry with eagerness and earnestness. Opportunities for fruitful ministry abound. And yet, there was still that sense of transition until the time when we finally sold our house in Atlanta and those frequent trips “home” to Georgia finally came to an end.
My point is this, that we have now entered a fourth season–one that I hope will last for years to come. I can best describe and define that season as “full steam ahead.” In other words, with all the obstacles removed, with all the uncertainty gone, it’s time to get to work! As I see it, that work needs to focus not only on the pastoral care and shepherding of our flock (which ought never to be neglected!), but also upon the need of our church to make ourselves known in our community. In a word, outreach.
There are many facets to that outreach. There is the obvious need for an updated, fresh presentation of the church to the public via the internet. In other words, the website. We have had the church website professionally redesigned, and with the ongoing customer support offered to me, the new website is up and going, though far from complete and continuing to improve. Please take a look…and look regularly. At a minimum, the site will be our business card to everyone who wants to know anything about us. Everyone who visits us will all but certainly have already looked at our website. We will also cease to pay for access to Sermon Audio, as our sermons are now available on our own site. The site will also be useful for congregational communication as well as evangelism. I hope to keep the content fresh and up to date, and will be looking to others to provide content as well.
There are other aspects of outreach. As you read this newsletter, you will see that we have scheduled a seminar put on by Walk Thru the Bible, a presentation on the summary contents of the whole Old Testament. That one day event in October will be an opportunity to invite friends, to advertise to people we don’t even know, and to come ourselves. If you aren’t familiar with what Walk Thru the Bible does, please look them up on their website, www.walkthru.org. And please come to the seminar! The session hopes to schedule other seminars as well, on topics that can be easily used to reach out to the needs of people in our community. A financial seminar is one such idea in the early stages of planning.
If you read the Mount Airy paper carefully, you would have noticed our ad this past week. It’s a small ad that will run all month. With a special advertising promotion through the month of August, we will purchase a number of larger ads as well, at a greatly reduced price. The goal is to make ourselves known, particularly the distinctives that might identify us by contrast to other churches. My goal in those ads is to attract the notice of people who love the Lord and His word, but find themselves longing for either more in-depth teaching of the Bible or more personal pastoral attention and oversight. I also long to attract the attention of people who do not know the Lord, but whose awareness of the “misery” of life has caused them to seek after something more…Namely, the gospel.
So full steam ahead! Yet in that, my ongoing pastoral work can not diminish. With a relationship now seasoned by multiple years, my pastoral yearning for your spiritual well-being abounds. How I love you, and long for nothing more than to see you walking well with the Lord. How thankful I am for your trust, for your willingness to let me into your lives, to seek out my counsel and my encouragement, and even, at times, to receive the loving admonitions of correction. I am excited about those relationships now matured by the passing of these couple of years. I am excited about the teenagers and young adults who have sought my attention to encourage them in their faith. I am encouraged by the married couples and other adults who have sought counsel and received some measure of solace in times of difficulty and struggle. I am thrilled to spend time with people new to our congregation, eager to see them established in their faith and in the fellowship of the church. And I am so glad to share that ministry with my fellow elders, Mike and Mark, thankful that our relationship has also matured with the ongoing affections of our mutual respect.
Full steam ahead as I seek to lead you in this whole endeavor of reaching out. My goal is nothing less than the right balance between those two objectives, broadly defined as shepherding and outreach. Full steam ahead as we work together for the building up of this church which the Lord has established and preserves throughout all the seasons of our life.