4 years ago, my wife and I began our short journey from Asheboro, NC to Winston Salem, NC to serve as the student pastor of Union Grove Baptist Church. I had just come out of a difficult church situation, and my wife and I were loving life together just the two of us. It was a much larger church and operation than what I was accustomed to so it took me some time to adjust. Over the four years of serving Union Grove, we found more than a job. We found a home and a family. This is in fact one of the deepest learning experiences of what I realized church should be like- a family. I went expecting a job and to impact people, and what I found was a family that would impact us in greater ways than I could have ever impacted them.
Abby and I came to Union Grove with no family in our area. We had no kids at the time, and now we are leaving with tons of family in the church as well as two little kids of our own.
Several months ago, I received a phone call that would in turn become a passion in my heart. This phone call came from another close church family- Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, FL. This is where my wife grew up , and where I attended college. A conversation about their vision went from hearing about what they wanted to do to a burden of us wanting to be a part. Church planting has been a part of my dream in my life, but I have never felt led to be a part of it. Trinity pitched to me their idea of going multisite. Their idea was that they would plant a campus across town in a fast growing area of Jacksonville called Oakleaf. They were asking me to consider being the family pastor of this new campus. I was excited for them, but honestly did not consider myself at first a part of this vision. I just struggled to see myself there. I liked the idea and listened to their vision, but still could see others doing the work in Oakleaf. I majorly struggled to shake the thought of leaving my church family and the wonderful families that God had allowed me to serve with. At the same time, I could not shake the intense burden growing in my heart for the area that Trinity was planting a multisite ministry in.
Over the course of a few weeks, I began an interview process. Still very torn between two places that I loved. It wasn’t until touring the area of Oakleaf in Jacksonville, FL that I had 100% peace about our decision. Driving through the community allowed me to see what God was telling me in my heart, and I knew that this would be the next step in our journey that He has us on.
Yes, it will be difficult to leave the ones that I love? Yes, it will be difficult to do something a little different from pastoring teens. Yes, it will be tough to take my daughter from the friends she loves. Yes, it will be a lot of work to move everything we have to Florida. Yes, it will be a challenge to plant a campus in Oakleaf. All of these thoughts were played over and over in my mind. One phrase continuously came to my mind- Jesus is greater! He is greater than any fear, difficulty, failure, or even success. When you compare any obstacle to Jesus, Jesus always wins, and He won in our decision to move to Jacksonville.
I have started a brand new journey this week as the family pastor of the Oakleaf campus that launches October 5th. I ask that you would partner with us in prayer. Please pray that God would change our city and allow us to be a part of Him being made known through this wonderful church. He has opened all of the doors, and we are seeking to walk through them. Pray that He does something incredible in the city of Jacksonville!