Thursday, March 3, 2016

Thank you, Westbury

              For eight and a half years, I have had the privilege of serving as Senior Pastor of Westbury Baptist Church. That joy comes to an end on March 13, when I preach my last sermon here and begin my new assignment at First Baptist, Conroe.  Westbury is a wonderful church with an incredible history and a spectacular future.  In 53 years, there have only been four other men who’ve had the honor I have had; that’s how healthy this church is.  In my time here, we have experienced celebration and mourning, made some bold changes, and seen many wonderful new members join.  You’ve supported me, worked alongside me, watched my kids grow up, and treated me better than any pastor deserves.  I am excited for what God has next for me, but I will never forget you.  In fact, I wish I could bring you with me. 
               So what happens next?  The ministry staff will make sure there are good preachers in the pulpit every Sunday.  This staff has been serving together for almost eight years--and most have been here for decades.  The deacon body will lead the Wednesday night prayer meeting.  The church is in great hands, leadership-wise.  The regular programs of the church will continue to be excellent.  Events like Vacation Bible School, the summer mission trip to Donna, youth and children’s camps will all still happen.  Meanwhile, the church will select a Pastor Search Committee from among the members of the congregation.  Be thinking of men and women of different ages who would do a good job of selecting the church’s next Senior Pastor.  Once that group is formed, they will begin to do research, and will probably form a profile of the sort of person the church needs.  They will solicit resumes of potential pastors.  Through a process of prayer, interviews, and much discussion, they will arrive at a candidate to present to you.  On a particular weekend, you’ll meet this candidate, hear him preach, and have the opportunity to elect him as the new Senior Pastor.  No doubt, he’ll be different in many ways from me.  Let him be himself; He is God’s man for this church.  You allowed me to be myself and didn’t compare me to Bob or Milton; please do him the same favor.  Love his family. Pray for them daily.  Work alongside him, as you did me. This is the Lord’s church; serve Him gladly.
               There is never a good time to leave a great church like Westbury.  But I am thankful to God that I am leaving at a point of tremendous health, which makes me confident about WBC’s future.  The church is financially strong and debt-free.  The ministry staff, deacons, committees, and Bible Study leaders are vibrant, committed men and women ready to do what is needed.  Both of our worship services are strong and growing.  Here’s what I need for you to understand: Now is the time for you to commit yourself with greater diligence to God’s work here at WBC.  Sometimes during a pastoral transition, church members will “check out” for a while, thinking, “I’ll come back when there’s a new pastor.”  But now is when the church needs you most.  Keep attending worship.  Keep giving financially.  Join a Bible study group if you’re not currently part of one; if you are, be faithful to it.  Volunteer for ministries if you don’t already; if you do, serve with even greater devotion.  Westbury is a great church and an important one; this part of our city needs healthy, multi-ethnic, Bible-teaching, Christ-exalting local churches.  Westbury Baptist is that kind of church, and I believe her best days are yet to come!

               Finally, thank you so much for allowing me to be your pastor, your confidant, your co-laborer and your friend for these past eight and a half years.  I cannot express adequately how loved you have made me feel, or how much I admire you individually, and have enjoyed serving you corporately.  I am glad I will only be an hour up the road; I hope that means we’ll see each other occasionally.  And I will enjoy watching from a distance as Westbury continues to change lives for good and glorify God here in Southwest Houston, and wherever His Spirit leads.  

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