I give my time to the ordinary means and the people God has placed under our care. But saying it’s been freeing doesn’t mean it’s been made easier. Quite honestly, it’s more demanding than ever because I understand what these things are. The true biblical understanding of the fear of God takes greater space in my heart when I consider preaching, sacraments, and care of the people of God. But knowing the calling is clear and freeing; I know whom I belong to, and what that requires of me, in a light that before I only knew through observation and not personally.
In 2020, Dr. Clark interviewed me about my unconventional route to becoming a Presbyterian pastor and how I ended up receiving a call to the congregation I serve. It is strange to consider how much change can take place in only a few years. I still remember sitting in a coffee shop over ten years ago asking Clint, the first Presbyterian pastor I’d ever met, questions about polity, baptism, and covenant theology. Though, in hindsight, I wish it hadn’t taken so long, this eventually led to our joining a local PCA congregation four years ago as a member and having our children baptized, which to this day remains the highlight of all parts of this process. And now here I am, pastoring a PCA congregation.
I remember, on one of the last Sundays before we headed out of town to begin our new call, hearing a sermon preached by my good friend Daniel at the congregation where we had joined. As he was preaching, my heart was anxious about moving my family away from everything we knew to pastor a congregation of people I didn’t know, in a presbytery and denomination with men well beyond my gifting and wisdom, and in a denomination with a polity structure and Book of Church Order (BCO) that seemed the size of a congressional budget bill to this former Baptist pastor. Admittedly, I don’t remember the text of his sermon, but I remember his calling us to see that Christ has called us to Himself, and our tasks in the kingdom are for His sake, and that He equips us with the Holy Spirit, and we are to fear not. While the sermon certainly wasn’t given that day to me personally, it was a unique kindness from the Lord to help me in these last few days before heading to Woodstock, Georgia.
As of this writing, we have lived in Woodstock for nearly three years, and are very happy the Lord called us to this congregation, presbytery, and denomination. I can say now that in the beginning, things didn’t go as I would have thought, but at the beginning of January 2020 we never could have known the changes our country was about to face. However, our time here has been fruitful as I’ve had the privilege of baptizing a handful of covenant children, as well as two adults, and God opened an opportunity to secure a permanent facility for our church in July, 2020. We have seen our membership and regular attendance increase, and the congregation has graciously tolerated and welcomed me as their pastor. I’ve been able to give my time to pastoral care, preaching, teaching and praying, which in God’s kindness has developed a loving relationship between my family and the congregation. One unique aspect has been helping a number of new members find a home in a presbyterian church in the same way I did. How gracious of God to provide this in a time in our country—it would be easy to assume it would be the opposite.
In this kindness, the Lord has afforded me the ability to understand and mature in my beginning days of being a Presbyterian pastor. Though I had pastored for many years before and learned many things during that time, the particularities of being Presbyterian are new. I had never even been a member of a session, much less the moderator of one. I’m sure the other members have laughed thinking of the times when I clearly had no idea what I was doing.