Last Sunday Lesley and I greatly appreciated your thanks and encouragement as we reached the milestone of twenty years of ministry here at RGC. When we got here our church was named Fairfax Covenant Church, we then became Sovereign Grace Church, and finally (lastly, I hope!), we became Redeeming Grace Church. We’ve certainly been through many changes over these two decades and I am deeply grateful to God for the privilege of being gospel partners with you for all this time.
Not many pastors have the opportunity to stay in one church for this long. For a variety of reasons, some move on too early and some stay too long. These twenty years have been good and fruitful years for us and, I hope, our most fruitful years are yet to come. Today I’d like to take a moment to thank you for the blessing you’ve been to me, Lesley, and our children.
Thank you for welcoming us in May of 1999. We never thought we’d leave California, expecting to spend our lives there serving in various ways in that spiritually needy part of the country, and near our families as well. When the Lord surprised us by directing our path out to Fairfax, you welcomed us with open arms and great kindness. Thank you.
Thank you for the deep respect you have for God’s Word. The first time I preached here, in October of 1998, I noticed how quiet and attentive the congregation was during the sermon. It’s become a part of the leadership culture here that when we need to bring change into the life of the church, we lead through teaching from Scripture, not only because it’s our map for life but also because this church loves to go wherever God’s Word leads.
Thank you for your love for relationships. In this city of the overcommitted and isolated, the people of our church have never been satisfied with simply being an anonymous Sunday morning crowd. You’ve lived out life in community, fueled especially by shared life in small groups (once called home groups, then care groups and now, community groups). This shows up most clearly when saints are in trouble and others rally around to help.
Thank you for your eagerness for international ministry. In God’s providence, we live in a city that is a great launching pad for international ministry. We have three international airports close by, many international people in our area, and the financial resources to invest in reaching out across borders. What a joy it’s been to watch members serve on short-term teams and reach out locally to internationals on university campuses and in our neighborhoods. We’ve helped plant a church in Tokyo, and maintain fruitful partnerships with ministries like Rancho 3M, Logos, NK Missions, and Oasis Church in the Dominican Republic.
Thank you for using the gifts of the Spirit. I believe that just as God gives individual Christians gifts, he also gives gifts to congregations. I’ve seen this church flourish in the gifts of hospitality, expressive and joyful corporate worship, financial generosity, fellowship, and more. You’ve been a blessing to many people!
Thank you for welcoming Spirit-led change. By God’s grace, we’re not the same as we once were. Through various times and trials, God is working amongst us to conform us to the image of Christ. This always involves change. It’s been a joy to see the gospel and the grace of God become more clear and more central. We’ve grown in our understanding of church government and now have a far greater role for the members and also a wider and more diverse eldership. We’re in a time when we’re growing in our outreach to our community and learning new ways of loving our neighbors.
Thank you for embracing the joys and challenges of being a multi-generational church. I am grateful for the stabilizing presence of long-time members, the energy and ideas of college students and younger people, and the vitality of those in between, who are going to lead this church into the future. In some ways it is easier to be a church where everyone is of similar age, as our church was in its early years, but I much prefer challenges and richness of multi-generational ministry.
Thank you for making it a joy to be a pastor (Hebrews 13:17). There are lots of ways for the relationship between pastors and churches to go wrong, aren’t there? On the one hand, pastors can be put up on a pedestal and treated as some unique species of Christian, on the other hand, pastors can be overlooked and underappreciated. You’ve found the middle ground. Thank you for both welcoming me as a brother in Christ while also recognizing that elders and pastors like me ultimately are appointed to our work by God, and will ultimately give account to him for how we do.
Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Psalm 106:1
God has been good to us, hasn’t he? I’m grateful to God for his never-ending, never-failing, new-every-morning steadfast love, and I’m trusting him with you that our most fruitful days are yet to come.
P.S. Do you have thoughts about this post? Or ideas for future posts? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org