Well, today is my last official day as a Church Planting Catalyst for the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists. A few years ago, if you had told me that I would be a NAMB appointed missionary for our state convention, I would have told you that you were crazy. Denominational work was something I never aspired to, but I wouldn’t trade my experience for the world. It has been an honor and pleasure to serve the churches of the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists. While I am ready and excited to be back in the pastorate, here are four things I will miss about serving as a Church Planting Catalyst:
The Church Planters
A few years ago, the former State Director of Missions, Delton Beale, began encouraging us to pray Luke 10:2. Since then, on the second day of each month, several of us have intentionally prayed that the Lord of the harvest would raise up workers into His harvest field. He has been faithful to answer that prayer. And the quality of men that He is raising up is mind-blowing. The church planters I had the privilege of working with absolutely inspired me. Their energy, enthusiasm, boldness and brokenness for the lost convicted me. They challenged me with their creativity and new ways of thinking. God is doing a great work in and through them and I will miss the time we spent together.
I love the local church. And because I love the local church, I love pastors. I will miss getting to share coffee or pie with the dozens of pastors I was blessed to work with. While I’ve served them, they have regularly been in my prayers, along with their churches. Some have changed churches. Some are no longer serving a church. A few are no longer in ministry at all. We’ve laughed together, cried together, strategized together, and just had fun together. Although I didn’t get to spend as much time with each of the pastors that I would have liked, I will miss the time we did get to spend together.
My Fellow CPCs
Nothing builds camaraderie quite like building something new together. I was blessed to start off with the “first round” of CPCs—James Smith, Frank Pilcher, Tony Inmon and Charlie Minney. Each one brought unique gifts and perspectives to the table, and each one was a blessing to me. No one prays like James, works like Frank, strategizes like Tony or loves like Charlie. Those guys laid the right foundation, worked like dogs and inspired me to be the best CPC I could be. Then after them came my brother Danny and my other brother Danny—Danny Cunningham and Danny Rumple. Those guys are true friends who have a tremendous vision for church planting in West Virginia. Danny Cunningham is the best man I know at building relationships and Danny Rumple is the most biblically grounded, driven denominational servant I’ve ever met. I will miss the road trips, the hotel stays, the staff meetings (not really), the long talks and the teamwork with those guys.
It’s amazing how God takes people who really don’t know what they’re doing and does a good work through them. That’s a perfect description of my work as a CPC. I’m a simple pastor. I have some leadership and relational skills, but at my core, I’m a simple small-church pastor. And as near as I can tell, that’s what all of the CPCs have been—simple guys with a love for Jesus and His Kingdom. The closest we ever came to working with brilliant strategists is reading Stetzer or Malphurs’ books. But despite that, God has done some incredible things. The thing that I will miss the most about being a Church Planting Catalyst is sitting back and enjoying the ride when God starts doing His thing through planters and pastors and catalysts who don’t really have a clue. I will miss being on the ride, but can’t wait to hear about how He is riding on without me!