Last weekend was a significant one for our family.
Firstly, I attended the presbytery meeting of the EPCEW in Solihull on Saturday. There, I was formally invited by the presbytery to join the work at the Solihull church plant for the next 12 months. During that period I and my family will join one of the EPCEW churches (probably Solihull, when it opens a membership roll). I will then be taken ‘under care’ with a view to completing the exams for licensure. Successful completion of this process will then mean I can receive a call to a pastorate at a later date. The only scary moment of the day was being called to the front to introduce myself. I did not expect this so I was quite unprepared to face such an august body!
Of great interest at that meeting was to observe two other events. One man was also proceeding to licensure and had to preach the opening sermon. Afterwards, the presbytery was invited to ask the man questions about the sermon. They could be on any pastoral, doctrinal or exegetical matter arising from it. Some of the questions were really quite difficult and technical – not the kind your average church member would ask! He handled it really well and came through with flying colours in my view. A second man was transferring in from another presbyterian denomination having been a pastor for many years, but as well as having completed the presbytery exams he had to undergo open questioning from the presbytery. Nothing was taken for granted. All good.
These two events were quite sobering for me. At some point I will have to undergo the same ‘grilling’. It reminded me of the clarity one must have on doctrinal and biblical matters when shepherding the flock, and the process of presbytery helps sort that out. In many ways the experience of watching these two men being grilled has clarified what I must do for personal study in the coming year.
The second significant part of the weekend was that yesterday was my last Sunday at DFC. I led both services. In the morning I preached on Psalm 2, on the King the LORD has appointed. In the evening, we finished our series of studies in Philippians. It was a day of mixed feelings. I have known for a number of months now that I would be moving on. In some respects I have been eager to make the change, so there was a degree of relief at the end of the evening service – a kind of “Made it!” feeling. However, there is a great note of sadness too. I have become very attached to the people. A couple of times in the last year I preached at other churches, and each time I felt a desire to be back with the congregation I had come to know. DFC has been very supportive of me in my ministry which has been a great encouragement to me. So to leave is a wrench.
For DFC as a small independent church, the future is bleak. This is a country where few evangelical men are being raised up as pastors, and very few amongst reformed churches. Even more difficult is to find someone who is willing to think as a missionary and commit to living in a tough neighbourhood where unemployment is high and social problems abound. Pastorally, nothing is tidy and neat. Who would bring their wife and kids into that environment? It’s a big ask. Please pray for the members of DFC as they consider their future as a church.
This week I effectively have a week off, though Susan has a list of household jobs for me to do which she has accumulated over the last few months(!) So I suppose I’d better get cracking…