Ladies and gentlemen, the end of the world is upon us. Or at least that must be the case according to some, given the turn of events at Reformaton Alive Baptist Church.
I have been giving you a running acount of the various events and happenings at RABC. As you know, the original Elder/Leader was Eric Redmond. And he had two elders serving with him – Billy Wommack and HW (HW is trying to develop a “branding” and doesn’t really want his name associated with this site). Eric had to leave because his main job at Washington Bible College was going horribly unstable and was not providing a dependable income for him to care for his family. So he had to find another source of income.
He ended up at New Canaan in Washington DC as the head of theological training. A second elder, HW, also left, leaving us with a single elder, Billy Wommack. But before the first two elders left, they put me forward for consideration as an elder. The church, in their questionable wisdom, seemed to think I am elder material, so they affirmed me as an elder.
It seems that Billy got really stressed in serving as the primary elder. I mean really stressed. His throat almost blew up. His voice faded. He got, and stayed sick much more than he had before. At one point, he was out for the better part of a week. Between his family, his job, and the responsbilities of elder, he was burning himself out rather quickly.
After a good deal of consideration, Billy decided he needed to step down from his job as elder/pastor. This past week he did exactly that. And now…wait for it…I’m the last elder standing.
That’s right. I am now the sole elder for Reformation Alive Baptist Church. I’ll be preaching next week. And the week after that, and the week after that. This must be what the end of the world looks like.
And now I get to worry about such things as Church growth (spiritually, and NOT just in numbers), what the flock is taught, encouraging them to memorize Scripture, study (seriously and not just take my word for it) on their own, and support one another. I have to give them encouragement to continue on in the face of some rather bothersome events. I have to help them not turn back and quit.
Being an elder was bad enough. But at least I didn’t have to worry about getting the contents of a sermon exactly right and making sure it addresses the needs of the people. And while I doubt I will need a sweat rag (I have no intention of either jumping around or shouting at the top of my lungs), I will have to study, every week, for mulitple hours. And then I have to write, and rewrite, all the time depending on God to guide me.
Think about it. It’s easy enough to beat people over the head with Scripture. It’s much more difficult to wash them with the water of the Word. It’s a lot easier to grab a sheep and shove him under the water to get him clean than to coax him into the water on his own. And as most of you know, I’m more a beat and grab kind of guy. But with the grace of God, I can in fact become (dare I say it) a kinder and gentler Melvin.
The trustees and I are laying out a growth (numbers this time) program. We want to have a greater influence on the community. But we also want to bring in more men as possible candidates for elder and continue a process for developing mature Christians (male and female) now and in the future.
We have one guy who is so Reformed that he almost has a German accent. But he is very hesitant to teach (one of the primary requirements for elder). Another is pretty good but is in what I would call the “cage stage” of the Doctrines of Grace (not exactly gentle in his dealings). It doesn’t take very much to get him into a full fledged, no hold barred debate.
God willing, for the next six months, we get to see what God has planned for us. And like Abraham, we get to walk not really knowing where the path will lead. All I know is that we are headed in a direction God wants us headed (according to His word), and that we have an opportunity to build a spiritual oasis amid a desert of pimps and profiteers.
As I said, I’m preaching this coming Sunday. It will be from Romans 12:3-13. I’ll be covering the responsibilities the believer has toward his fellow Christians. Next week, God willing, I will be preaching from Romans 6. And the week after that, a portion of Romans 7, then a portion of Romans 8, then a portion of Romans 9 (yay for God’s sovereignty!).
Depending on how our time goes, we will then go verse by verse through Philemon and 1 and 2 Peter.
For through the grace given to me I urge you to give us a visit. Service starts at 11:30 and is held in the great hall of Our Savior Lutheran Church – 4915 Saint Barnabas Rd, Temple Hills MD – about a mile off the beltway, toward Silver Hill Road/Suitland.
But let me warn you ahead of time. Don’t come out if you want a performance, a smoking hot music program, a preacher dressed in a $1000 suit, or an interesting liturgy. All you’re going to get is an environment in which you can worship God in spirit and in truth, music that points you toward God and, God willing, preaching that will challenge you to understand the Word and its place in your life. Even after the second transition (Billy to yours truly), we still preach Christ, and Him crucified.