We are soon heading to Shreveport, LA where I will serve as Associate Pastor for Emerging Ministries at First Baptist, Shreveport (no, they don’t have slot machines in the narthex). The search committee had us over for a visit several weeks ago and then had our whole family there this past weekend to meet and greet and be voted on by the church.
I first became intrigued with what this church was doing when I saw the job ad and wanted to see what it was all about; if they were truly interested in creating and influencing emerging generations as a church. What I discovered is a Sr. Pastor–Dr. Greg Hunt–, staff and church who are at a place in the life of their church where they are ready(after some years of crisis and soul-searching as a church) and positioned to do whatever it takes to continue their rich history of ministry by adapting their orientation to reaching out to emerging generations.
In my sermon today, I talked about what we are learning about these generations and why they are absent from the church. I referenced Barna’s latest book as well Alan Jamieson’s A Churchless Faith to establish the problem churches face today in relating to the emerging world around them.
I read from Matthew 5:13 (salt and light) and listed three key areas this church will need to major on to be salt and light to the ever-changing world in the days ahead. They are: community-living, a focus on Jesus (not what we attach to him), and a missional/kingdom focus The list can go on, but these three were all I had time for and are central and those that will enable the church to connect with emerging generations.
I am impressed with what this church has done in the past and I’m excited about the days ahead. I will be leaving my work as a church planter here in the Trophy Club area now after an informal merger with another new church in our area. I will also depart from my full-time work as Chaplain/Bereavement Coordinator at SouthernCare Hospice in Ft. Worth. I have learned countless lessons in the planting(esp. about the major tectonic shift in culture that has taken place since we planted our first church in 1996) as well as working with terminally ill patients and their families. I am thankful to God for our time here and for the many people who have lived in community and mission with us as Highland Community Church.