My letter to you this morning is simple. I want to say, “Thank You”. In particular, I want to say thank you for the way you have treated the pastoral team and staff during throughout these tumultuous days. I can’t begin to tell you the number of emails and phone calls I have received expressing gratitude for the staff and the way we have worked to keep our church functioning, and thriving, during this period. While there is no substitute for seeing each of you face-to-face on Sunday morning, it always makes my day brighter when I look in my inbox and find emails from our people. While they aren’t always positive, I would say that ninety-five percent of my conversations are filled with gratitude. That is the case, not only for me, but for the entire staff. As Paul said in his letter to the church at Philippi,
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
I have to tell you, most of the pastors I speak with these days do not find themselves in similar situations. I spoke to a pastor last week who has been so beaten down as a result of the pandemic, that he is considering leaving ministry. I prayed with my friend and then we prayed for his church. As a result of not meeting because of COVID-19, they have lost members who have been at the church for twenty-five years, because the church down the street is “worshipping without all of those restrictions (i.e. social distancing and masks)”! Because he dared to speak about issues of race and the gospel, he has been accused of being a “Marxist”, which couldn’t be further from the truth. The church he serves, and many others, are in financial distress as people are no longer giving to the church and her mission in the world.
Friends, the reports I am hearing from friends and colleagues in ministry is absolutely heartbreaking. So, I write to you today with a spirit full of gratitude, because the spirit of the community here at FBC Augusta is as united as it has been in decades. But I also write with a heavy heart, as I know many friends who are suffering because of the treatment they are receiving from their church. With that in mind, I want to ask that you commit to doing a few things with me over the coming weeks.
- Pray for the “C” church– What impacts one of us, impacts all of us. On a daily basis, I am committed to praying for my brothers and sisters who are sharing the Gospel in their communities, and I hope that you will join me as well.
- Be a source of encouragement– In the midst of this pandemic, it is so incredibly easy to become cynical. Over the coming weeks and months, I ask that you make your best effort to be someone who sees the world as Jesus teaches us to see it, as a place filled with Divine goodness! As I often remind you in my sermons, “What you look for is what you will find.” If you want to see the bad in people, that is easy to find. But if you commit to seeing Jesus all around, then I promise you will be a better, more encouraging person.
- Commit to worship– Whether you worship online or on our campus, I want you to spend time in worship each week with our church. Our staff is working incredibly hard to make sure that however you choose to worship with us, that we make it possible for you to have an encounter with the resurrected Christ. If you make it a priority to worship on Sunday morning, then I guarantee you that the first two things I ask of you will be much easier tasks to accomplish!
This week we will wrap up our sermon series, “From Nothing to Everything”. I hope that you have found encouragement for your week because of this series. If you have missed any of the messages, you can go to our website and catch up on what you missed.
I am so proud to be the pastor of this church at this moment in our history.
See you Sunday,