In August of 08 I started traveling full-time ministering and encouraging churches, stateside and abroad. This new start in ministry came because of some other new beginning's end.
I've known our end result would be to Pastor a church and during these last three years I've felt very much like a rock in a sling shot. I see the target, but no matter how much I aim to hit it, it would appear instead of moving forward I'm being pulled back, pulled back, and pulled back.
See during this time of traveling and speaking, I've also been doing quite a bit of learning; gleaning from pastors who've been in ministry and have been around the block. I've attended church-planting meetings and conferences to try to learn and grow as much as I can. What I've learned has helped me develop and formulate some ideas concerning church planting and church revitalization. I've posted previously on here about those thoughts.
As I've traveled I've discovered my passion is to see the church grow and excel in what God has called it to do. I find myself coming alive when getting to speak to leadership about church growth principles and strategies, all the while I've explored every possible door when it comes to pastoring. Please understand when I say every door, I mean every door! I won't go into every detail, but I will add this.....while exploring every door that has appeared to open I have not felt it was ever an option to "go and do my own thing." I have a high conviction when it comes to authority and have listened and taken the advice of those over me even to the point when it's caused heartache. In fact, that's the true test to see if one is in submission---submitting when you disagree. (okay, off my soapbox)
Back at the first of February we were contacted by an pastor in KY who was wanting to retire toward the end of the year and he wanted to transition the church to a young minister. He's an old friend of my wife's dad's and had contacted him, which Dale in turn put him in touch with me. At the time we were in the midst of a (long) process with a church in Joplin (one of the many doors I mentioned above) and told the pastor that we felt like we should see that process through, but expressed our desire to come and speak for the church in KY and meet the leadership. So we scheduled a date in April and at the same time the church in Joplin didn't work out. (Keep in mind, this was BEFORE any tornado touched-down in Joplin....something to think about!).
The KY pastor had said that he would like to retire at the end of the year, with the transition happening right around then as well. We confirmed those date before renting this current house, because we had to sign a 1-year lease on it and didn't want to lose a lot of money.
So we went on Palm Sunday to Hopkinsville, KY. It's a small church. They went through a rough time about 11-12 years ago and this current pastor has been there for 11 years now and has really focused on healing up the people. And he's done a wonderful job of that, he's a very good man! They have a wonderful, debt-free facility located in a great neighborhood right beside an elementary school. Hopkinsville is just 20 minutes from Clarksville, TN where Fort Campbell is also. So you can see there are many great out-reach and ministry opportunities there.
That Palm Sunday weekend we met with their elders and wives and the pastor and his wife to just get to know each other a bit and let them ask us some questions and we asked them some as well. It was a great meeting and neither of us saw any red flags. That Sunday morning service went very well and the people were very welcoming.
Oh~and did I mention that the pastor would actually like to retire at the end of August?! So that meant we needed to talk with our landlords about our contract and just let them know that we may be moving soon. Well, what happened was nothing short of a miracle! We'd had a lawyer friend look at our contract to see if there were any loop holes, but he said there were none and we would just be at their mercy, meaning we may still owe them all the rent from the time we move until our contract is up at the end of next March. Which wasn't good news. But when we talked with the owner, she was totally understanding. It turns out her dad had also been in ministry and she understood the need to move quickly sometimes and they completely released us from our contract, just asking that we give them a 30-day notice and allow them to show the house should they put it back on the market while we're still in it. Talk about relief! To be released from that contract was SUCH a blessing! This is where I truly believe God is taking care of things behind the scenes.
After that I began to talk regularly on the phone with the pastor, who is just incredibly excited and really believes we are the young couple to transition the church.
The first weekend in June I went back and met with the elders and deacon and wives and also the pastor and his wife again for some more getting-to-know-each-other type talk. I spoke on Sunday morning and then that evening the church held a special Q&A session with me. Lora wasn't able to go that weekend, but it went very well and I came away very excited. All that to say....
WE JUST HEARD FROM THE PASTOR AFTER LUNCH TODAY THAT IT HAS BEEN
CONFIRMED! WE ARE GOING TO BE THE NEXT PASTORS OFCHRIST COMMUNITY CHURCH IN HOPKINSVILLE, KY!!
Also last week we made a quick overnight trip to Hopkinsville to look at homes. There is a young realtor in the church who is helping us. We did find one that we REALLY like and we went ahead (in faith!) and made an offer on it this weekend. We shot a bit low, but hoped to negotiate a good price. Well, we just got their counter offer back this past hour and it right at the amount we were willing to go up to! So we are accepting their counter offer~can't wait to be homeowners again!!
And that's the Big News! After feeling like a rock in a sling being pulled back, we are now being released!!!