Starting next week, I will be in Ukraine for a series of meetings in the cities of Lutsk and Kiev. The churches in Ukraine are standing strong these days and I will have the privilege of meeting with many of their leaders while there.
I look forward to the joy of preaching at our “home church” in Lutsk (called “God’s Design Church”) on Sunday, April 24. This morning on FaceBook I found the following flyer announcing the events of the day…and no, I can’t read a word of it!! Praise the Lord for good translators when I teach and preach!
If you can, pray for the trip to be beneficial to the leaders in Kiev at their national conference as I speak to their young adult leaders gathered together from all over the nation. The kind folks in Lutsk have translated and published my book, Firmly Rooted, Faithfully Growing (cover photo attached). A copy will be given to each of the 800 conference participants!
Thanks for your continued interest and prayers as we continue to prepare the launch of Equipped for Life in the coming months!
Would love your feedback!
I am attaching a one-page intro sheet (front and back) that I am designing to introduce people to what Equipped for Life is, the idea behind it and some details of what EFL will offer. The front page is a screen shot of a possible design for a website home screen and the back page gives some details about the three categories listed on the front page.
Let me know what is missing…what should be left off…overall what your impression is…and last of all, what other means of equipping Christian leaders you might like to see EFL offer that are not mentioned.
You can either comment here or email me at email@example.com. Thanks for your interest and your help!
As Equipped for Life gets ready to launch, I am posting a new Facebook page to provide a place for updates and news of the progress being made to get this ministry up and running.
Check back periodically and see how things are going! Particularly would appreciate much prayer and would actually like to build a Prayer Team of 50 people who will commit to pray regularly for this important new work. If you are interested, let me know! The email for communicating regarding EFL is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for checking today’s post!
When Sirius radio came with my new car a few years ago, I discovered the Comedy station–the clean one! There are others that are NOT!!
I have enjoyed much laughter since then while simply getting from point A to B. One comedian I discovered was Michael Jr. He is a truly funny man! Today I found out a little more about him–that he uses his comedy to encourage people to aspire to become more of what God created them to be.
Here is short clip of one of his YouTube posts that is not comedic but inspirational. Hope you like it!
What a night! …one last opportunity to say a public, worshipful thanks to the Lord for allowing Cathy and me to be part of the Providence family all these years! When we agreed to have a farewell evening to say our last farewell as pastor of Providence, I frankly had no idea what that would mean.
Last night as friends gathered for a time of glorious worship, Cathy and I got to see and hug people we have loved from across four decades of Christ-centered relationships. One surprise after another awaited us as first one then another and another would walk in–some having traveled many, many hours from many states to come celebrate with us. To say it was overwhelming only begins to touch on what it was like for us!
Not knowing what was planned, Cathy and I had prayed that we would be able to take it all in while at the same time deflect all praise to the Lord. We need not have been concerned because those who planned the day had made sure that each song, each testimony, each greeting, would give first place to the adoration of a gracious and generous Savior.
When the video of the evening goes online on http://www.pray.org, I will post that link so that those who could not come will be able to experience in part that evening of amazing worship! Music from a wide range of styles led by dear friends and great musicians stirred all of our hearts to lift high the name of Jesus!
For those looking for more information about our new ministry, Equipped for Life, there are a couple of posts here on this blog (December 3, July 7 and 10) that give a brief explanation of what we hope to see the Lord do. Two primary emphases of EFL will be equipping–teaching, training and encouraging ministry leaders, and missions–bringing together missions needs with missions giving.
Hopefully within the next couple of months we will be launching the Equipped for Life website, but in the meantime this blog will post progress as the details develop more fully.
If you are interested in helping us in this new endeavor, you can contribute by making checks payable to “Equipped for Life” and sending them to Equipped for Life, 6339 Glenwood Avenue, Raleigh, NC 27612 or to 1820 Albacore Lane, Raleigh, NC 27612. Since EFL is a 501(C)3 not-for-profit organization, all gifts are tax deductible. If you prefer, you can also make checks payable to Providence Baptist Church and note EFL on the “for” line of the check. When the website launches, there will be a provision for online giving. So whether you want to become a ministry partner with us, or just make a one-time contribution, please know how grateful we will be!
For more details about the ministry itself, please contact me via my new ministry email (email@example.com) and I will be very glad to fill you in on all the dimensions planned for this new and exciting phase of our calling to equip the saints for the work of ministry and connect missions needs with missions giving.
As far as last night is concerned, THANKS!…thanks to all of you for once again making us feel so blessed by a people we love so deeply!
Yesterday was my last day as senior pastor at Providence! Now I am just a member, but I want to be a good one!
When Cathy and I found ourselves with eleven other couples on the threshold of starting a new church in 1978, we could never have predicted what the next 37 years had in store for us! After preaching thousands of sermons, writing several books and articles, traveling hundreds of thousands of miles to speak at conferences here and abroad, baptizing hundreds, marrying hundreds more, counseling those in trouble or in need, comforting those who were bereaved or hurting in some way, sharing the gospel with individuals, small groups or entire congregations, my calling to preach the gospel and to equip the saints for the work of ministry has never left me in search of something to do!
For all the mistakes I made, and the failures I endured, there was never a moment in all those years when I felt any lack of support from you. Don’t get me wrong! There were plenty of antagonists to be found along the way and the sailing was not always smooth. But I always knew that Providence consisted primarily of men and women who loved Christ, loved His Word, loved His church, and yes, loved me as their pastor. How can I thank you properly for all of that? What words of praise can adequately be expressed to a great and glorious Savior, Jesus Christ? Praise and thanksgiving will always be in my heart and on my lips for you and to Him who alone is worthy to be exalted!
Through all of those years, you the people of Providence have extended much grace to me and my family! Thanks for loving my family and for loving me well!
Looking back, some of you I baptized, then officiated at your weddings, dedicated your babies…only to get to do the same thing for your children! Scores of you we ordained to the ministry, hundreds we commissioned to be missionaries, and thousands of others we affirmed to be salt and light in whatever circumstances God has placed you. In this day of short pastoral tenures, who gets to stay in one place long enough to do all of that? Your gracious love and prayers and faithfulness provided a place for us to call home and raise our own family right here.
From a purely practical standpoint, you have also been a generous people. Through four relocations, you stood by the ministry and gave freely so that we have never had debt for more than a few years at any given time. We have met our budget all but a handful of those 37 years. And even then, we managed our spending well and ended the year in the black! That was done without ever compromising our commitment to give sacrificially and gladly to support various missions endeavors around the globe as a gospel centered church should. You have joined me to treasure Christ and make His glory known in your hearts and in all the earth! Thank you for that!!
May the riches of His grace flow freely as Brian Frost excels in his new role. I now get to join you as a member of Providence, loving, supporting and praying for my new pastor. So as I step aside and Brian becomes your Senior Pastor today, my heart is filled with joy and gratitude that I have been your pastor and friend all these years. “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth” (3 John 4).
As I begin a new phase of ministry as Executive Director of Equipped for Life ministries, continuing to equip the saints for the work of ministry, especially ministry leaders, please pray for me as I will for you! May the grace of Jesus Christ be yours completely!
Each Christmas, we try to get a family photo in front of the Christmas tree…not an easy task with little ones who may or may not be interested in sitting still! This year was no different. Set up the camera, set the timer, press the release, run sit in my spot, ‘everyone look at the camera!’…and voila!
But this year we had a surprise! Cathy’s dad lives with us and his room is right behind where we were sitting. Being rather hard of hearing, he was oblivious to what was going on right outside his door. The result? The best photobomber I think I’ve ever seen!
So Merry Christmas from all who were sitting for the photo…and a special surprise greeting from our guest photobomber!
Change brings about lots of questions. Many of you have asked great questions about the changes going on in my life as pastor at Providence so I want to answer the most common ones for you. I love the fact that our brothers and sisters in Christ want to know what’s next for us and how they can pray. So here are a few of the questions.
- What changed to shift the timeline from October 2018 to January 2016 as the date you are planning to step down as senior pastor?
When the search process began in the summer of 2014, I could see then that the timeline would of necessity be moved up. The coaching and grooming of a new pastor can only take so long! Once we knew that it was to be Brian Frost, we were able to see that his long-term connections at Providence would shorten the transition period even more because there was so much he already knows that I do not need to teach him. Therefore, we began to look at what needed to take place, assessed the process involved in getting things together to do that and realized that we could move forward far quicker than any of us would have thought.
The succession team appointed by the elders worked diligently to develop an orderly plan that would take care of Cathy and me, keep any commitments already made to us, clarify ours to the church, and then sort out the details of dates and times to see this through. And so we arrived at the schedule you have heard. Brian will become senior pastor on January 1, 2016 and I will officially no longer be a pastor on the Providence staff, but simply a loyal, faithful member glad to call this church my home!
- How involved were you in the selection process and transition plans?
When the search process began for a new senior pastor who would succeed me, a couple of important decisions were made right away. First, the bylaws prescribe how that process should go and we wanted to be scrupulously careful to follow them. Second, my role would be limited to initial questions the Search Committee might have about process which I answered in a meeting with them soon after they convened to begin their work. Third, I agreed to send out letters to my own network of pastor friends inquiring about names they might want to recommend for the position. Fourth, I was available as a reference for any candidate who might be identified with personal connections to me. Beyond that, I did not play a role in the selection process.
When Brian Frost’s name was brought to the elders by the unanimous vote of the Search Committee, the elders met to interview him without me present so that questions would not be awkward in any way. But when the official recommendation was ready for the vote of the elders, I asked for permission to make the official motion that we call Brian! I love that guy and will gladly follow him as my pastor!
- Why step down as senior pastor at all?
Well, there are two ways to answer—reasons I am not stepping down, and reasons I am.
Reasons I am not stepping down…
- I am not retiring! The idea of retiring at age 63 does not compute with me, since the decade of the 60’s is typically the most productive of one’s life.
- I am not tired of ministry! Any pastor gets tired in the ministry, but if I ever get tired of the ministry something is wrong!
- I am not looking to move away! Florida has nothing to fear…we are not leaving Raleigh, one of the best places in the world to live!
- I was not encouraged nor urged to do so. Because the timeline changed, it is natural to think that someone(s) is pushing me out—not at all! In fact, I am surrounded by elders and pastors who are some of my greatest cheerleaders!
- I do not love Providence any less! On the contrary, Providence is my church family as evidenced by the fact that once I am no longer on staff, I will still be here as a faithful member who loves his Christ-centered church and the people there!
Reasons I am stepping down…
- I am putting my actions where my convictions are! For years, I have taught and tried to model a ministry that embraces 2 Timothy 2:2 and Ephesians 4:11-12—passing the torch on to the next generation. That has long been a biblically formed passion of mine. If “next generation” leaders are to get a chance, my generation needs to give due consideration to the dangers inherent with staying too long and occupying positions that could, and in some cases should, belong to younger leaders. Getting out of the way early enough to watch that happen motivates me in an exciting way!
- I am finding a shift in my priorities for ministry. In our environment of grace, I believe I could stay at Providence for the rest of my life. But as my ministry gifts have developed over the years, certain emphases have emerged that have re-shaped my priorities. Providence needs a pastor who gives top priority and energy to the right things at the right time. I believe I have done that passionately over the years, but now I detect a shift in the kinds of things that are fulfilling to me. I will always be a vision-casting and dreaming kind of pastor, but the level of energy and focus needed to fight for those things seems to be less satisfying, even when I know I gave everything I had. What is more satisfying to me lately is investing in a ministry to equip leaders, training up others to have a significant impact for generations to come. I have been doing that for over 25 years here at Providence, but now sense that God has prepared me to devote more time and energy to that purpose than remaining as a senior pastor would ever allow.
- I am longing to write, coach, consult, teach and preach more than ever. Being a senior pastor offers all kinds of opportunities for all of those things. But to be honest, any pastor counts himself blessed if he gets to do what he really loves doing as much as 40% of his time. The 60+% of remaining ministry duties is necessary work and makes a huge difference in ministry effectiveness. But I believe the time has come to find a way to maximize the opportunities to do what I love most and to do it with un-divided focus.
- I continue to be committed to help other churches and their leaders. For many years, I have answered the calls as they have come in. Church leaders and other pastors have come and asked for counsel in one aspect of their ministry or another—not because I am some church “guru” but I have been around long enough to learn through experiences of success and failure. But I have also gleaned much godly wisdom from the trenches of hands-on pastoral ministry to be able to offer some hope and help. I long to keep doing that until I am physically or mentally incapable of making myself available to others who need me.
“Equipping” is the one-word focus of my life! Equipping leaders is the next tier of that focus—equipping leaders anywhere and everywhere is the third tier, whether across town or across the world. After decades of doing that, I am excited about how the Lord can shape the next decade to allow me to keep at it.
- Since you have said that you are not retiring, just changing your ministry focus and context, what will you be doing?
Since this article is already far too long, I will end by offering a short answer. I will lead a new ministry called Equipped for Life that will provide a platform for me to do the things I love doing—just as I explained in the previous answer. Next time I will explain more of what Equipped for Life is all about!
Lots of great worship bands, choirs, orchestras and musical artists are leading worship and recording great music to adorn the name of Jesus Christ with praise. Yet sometimes it is the simple that can be the most profoundly moving. I just ran across a version of the old classic, “Softly and Tenderly” sung by RoseAngela Merritt from NewSpring Church. No fancy arrangements or vocal harmonies here–just the simple song presented with passion and beauty.
Note: The video fails to play from within the post for some odd reason. Click on the link to view on YouTube.