If you’ve kept up with this blog at all, you know that about 10 months ago, I was called to be the lead pastor of South City Church in Nashville, TN. Without going into all the details, the church has suffered a bit of chaos and instability. I knew that going in.
What I didn’t know was the degree of instability that was present. As soon as I arrived, the leadership team asked me to concentrate my efforts initially on three distinct things:
1. Getting to know the members of the church that remained (the church had declined to between 30-50 members and regular attendees).
2. Making Sunday worship “worthy of invitation.”
So we (my family and I) got to work. One of the first things I knew that would help to stabilize Sunday worship was the Word of God. In fact, this is really the only thing that can stabilize us as the people of God; to sit under the written Word of God and walk by faith with the living Word of God, Jesus Christ. Knowing me as some of you do and my theological leanings, we began to install liturgical worship immediately. There is nothing quite so comforting for God’s people than to sit under God’s Word weekly, to read the Word, speak the Word, pray the Word, hear the gospel weekly proclaimed over us and come to the Lord’s Table every single week.
There is a reason the early Church was liturgical and it wasn’t merely because it was partially an adapted Jewish practice. It is because the people of God need the gospel preached to them every week, to be formed at our deepest heart level by the Word and to receive Christ weekly in the Eucharist.
So that is what we did and will, by God’s grace, continue to do.
Getting to know folks takes time but we got to work on that right away also. It was the vision piece that took a turn that I didn’t expect.
I got the sense very early on that this was a church that needed new life badly; a new way forward in a new identity. There had been so much pain and turmoil and conflict and instability in the past. What was needed was a whole new identity.
Praise God that this is the pattern we see in Scripture; new life comes by faith in Jesus. So recently, after much prayer and fasting and research, I cast a vision for relocating and replanting this church. By a miraculous work of the Holy Spirit in unifying the elders, we voted unanimously a couple of weeks ago to do just that. So now the work begins.
We have found space at a local UMC church in the southern part of Davidson County in Antioch, just south of Nashville proper. Praise God for His provision!
There is much work to be done moving forward. Would you pray with us and for us, friends, that the Holy Spirit would unify us and strengthen us as we move forward? New life is possible if we will embrace it. Pray for us as we allow the Spirit to build us, challenge us and grow us!
Soli Deo Gloria!