We’re all starting a new chapter. After four and a half years of ministry at West Baptist Church, my family and I will begin a new pastorate at Stirling Baptist Church in late November. This has been the most difficult decision of my life as we have tried to listen to God and see where he is leading us in the future. Many people I’ve spoken with have told me that your first pastorate is always special. Indeed, I am grateful to you all for welcoming our family and for your enthusiasm as we embarked on an adventure together. We have grown as a community in faith, generosity, hospitality, family, and love. All of these things I thank God for.
As I write this, I am reminded of 2 Timothy 2:1-2:
Timothy, my dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus. You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.
The Scriptures teach us that it is not enough to just run the race that God has set before us; we are also called to pass on our mission to the next generation and to finish well. This is evident in Joshua receiving the baton from Moses, David passing the baton to Solomon, Elijah passing the baton to Elisha, Jesus passing the baton to his disciples, and Paul passing the baton to Timothy. (1)
We often think of generations in terms of age, but it is much more than this. Passing the baton to the next generation is more about recognising how God’s word speaks to the changing seasons, which bears the imprint of life changing events such as COVID and war. Such seasons have an impact on all of us, regardless of age, shaping our primary questions and concerns. Those who are ready to take up the baton and continue the race into a new season are the next generation.
Everybody has a role. Without Barnabus’ encouragement, Paul would not have become the leader he was. Paul understood the significance of passing the baton to Timothy and Apollos, among others. In this, Paul acted as a mentor, encouraging the life of the church to support those called in new seasons:
When one of you says, “I am a follower of Paul,” and another says, “I follow Apollos,” aren’t you acting just like people of the world?
After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building. (1 Corinthians 3:4-9)
Paul called Timothy and Apollos to pass on the truth of Jesus Christ to others. That was their primary mission, the goal that they should not lose sight of. No matter how the seasons change, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, remains the same. He welcomes all who believe in him and accepts them as children of God. Our mission is to share this good news in every season, understanding that while God never changes, he is always doing something new and invites all of us to join him on this journey:
For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. (Isaiah 43:19)
Rachel, Ethan, Isla and I have been truly blessed during our time at West. Thank you for encouragement as we have grown together during times of joy and hardship. West Baptist will always have a special place in our hearts. I would like to finish with a Prayer for times of Transition found on re-worship by Joe Shadle: (2)
God of Love,
You are with us in every transition and change.
As we enter into this new era with excitement
and even some anxiety,
we recall your deep compassion, presence,
and abounding love.
We thank you for the gifts, talents and skills
with which you have blessed us.
We thank you for the experiences
that have brought us to this moment.
We thank you for the work of others
that gives breadth and depth to our own work.
Be with us as we move forward,
rejoicing with you and supporting one another.
We ask this in your Holy Name.
Dunfermline West Baptist Church
Chalmers Street, Dunfermline