Monday, September 13, 2010

A Dual Charge

Yesterday was a very special day for Jana and me.

In the Sabbath morning we accepted the call as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Desdemona, Texas, our little ranching community 90 miles southwest of Fort Worth.

In the Sabbath evening, we held the first worship celebration of Bread Fellowship, our new community of faith in Fort Worth.

We feel led to lend our pastoral energies to both of these Christian communities.

When my interim pastorate ended with the First Baptist Church of Brownwood in June, the folks in Desdemona invited me to preach. They had experienced numerous challenges in recent years. Attendance has dwindled to 8 worshippers. Discussions centered on closing the doors of this historic Texas church.

We have preached all summer, except for prior Sabbath commitments in other places, and have witnessed the power of the Word of God to convene—and reconvene— a community of faith, hope, and love. We have experienced lively and meaningful Sabbath services, with more and more worshippers week by week, to the happy point that the saints at Desdemona see new life and possibility in their fellowship again.

We are privileged to serve our own neighborhood church where our ranch is located and where Jana’s grandparents invested their lives.

In the Sabbath evening yesterday we had the first worship celebration of our exciting new ministry in Fort Worth called Bread Fellowship. We have been meeting in two small group Bible studies for the past year, and have a core group of 40 or so. Nothing fancy, just sitting in folding chairs arranged in a circle with the Lord's Table in the center.

Our sense of the Spirit's leadership is to focus on the Museum District/Montgomery Plaza area of our city, just west of downtown Fort Worth. We presently meet in the community room of the Monticello Apartments at the corner of North Bailey and White Settlement, but, with yesterday’s gathering, we have already run out of space. We are reaching out mainly to young adults who, for one reason or another, have an ambiguous relationship with the institutional church. (I always smile when I write this line, because we too will likely be institutional enough very soon!) We have no plans to own property or a building.

We are trying to keep this ministry highly inclusive, interactive, informal and intimate, building Christian community around Scripture, prayer, fellowship, and hands-on mission involvement. We have a two word mission statement: Eat. Feed.

I have joined two other fine ministers, Terry Austin and Paul Hood-Patterson, in a pastoral team. There will be others joining this pastoral circle; we are open to God-called ministers who feel led to build a ministry of radical inclusiveness and love.

Let me take a minute to ask you brothers and sisters a big favor:

If you have friends or family members who live in Fort Worth and who do not have a church home, and you feel comfortable providing us their names and contact information, we would be privileged to extend the invitation and friendship of Christ to these friends. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Your prayers are the best gifts. Thank you for lifting us up to the Light of God's love and grace! And, do send us those contacts, as the Spirit leads.

So, Jana and I are now circuit-riding Sabbath preachers, glad and grateful to proclaim our Lord’s great good news in these two fascinating congregational contexts.