The church where I have been serving for the past thirty years, Crossroads Baptist Church, just celebrated its 30th anniversary. In 30 years of ministry, there have been a lot of highs, and a lot of lows. You may wonder after all that time if three decades of ministering in the same church has been worth the effort. I say that it is worth every minute. The following letter is why I have kept going for 30 years. It is written by the daughter of a guy who helped me start our church 30 years ago. My buddy passed away a few years ago, but the words penned by his oldest say it all for me. I hope you enjoy what Morgan wrote. I know that Stanton would.
“My parents met at this church.
They learned how to lead at this church.
They built relationships of the deepest impact at this church.
They were challenged to raise children in scripture at this church.
I was saved at this church.
I was baptized at this church.
I learned the books of the Bible at this church.
I learned to memorizes scripture at this church.
I learned how to worship at this church, and learned that if you ain’t sweating you ain’t worshiping.
I learned how to pray at this church.
I learned the value of tithing at this church.
I met leaders that have changed my life at this church.
I met my best friends at this church.
I have been through immense heartbreak and grief at this church.
I have experienced pain from people at this church.
I have had to chance to share a story of brokenness at this church.
I have been able to practice being a servant at this church.
I am learning how to lead at this church.
I learned my passion for preschoolers at this church.
I am learning how to better study the Word at this church.
I am learning the unbelievable need for community and small groups at this church.
I am learning that people are people, and they sometimes fail you. That’s okay, because faith isn’t people-based but God-based.
I am learning that the “cool new thing” may not always be the Jesus thing.
I am learning that people dug a well that I GET to drink from every day.
I am learning here. I have learned here. I have done things here. I wasn’t even alive 30 years ago, but people who wanted to make a difference were, and they started digging and planting seeds, and studying the Word and building relationships. This campus building we are standing in wasn’t here 30 years ago. The other campuses were far-off dreams that these people digging didn’t even know they had yet.
This church did so much. This church is doing so much. It’s changed my life, shaped my life, has been my life some days. But this church wasn’t built by people in a day. It wasn’t built easily. It wasn’t built without pain and challenge and death and joy and persecution and heartbreak and disagreements and disappointment and people coming in and people walking out and people being called in and people being called out.
This church is me. This church is us. This church is because of Jesus. It’s not this building or that building or dreams or good days or bad days. It is a faithful to calling pastor we have. It’s the elders who stay in the Word and wisdom so as to best make the decisions that represent our church. It’s the people who woke up early to set up in a high school and stayed late to break it down. It’s the people that rocked babies and chased three-year-olds and read little Bible stories to 4th graders. It’s the people who passed the offering buckets every single week down the aisle. It’s the people who lead us to the throne room in worship. It’s the parking lot guys who help us park or greet us with a happy face when we aren’t feeling it. It’s the middle school pastors who gave up their sanity to love on 13-year-olds who are always just so loud. It’s the people who stay with high schoolers and work through their pain and brokenness with them. It’s the people who sit in counseling offices or hospital rooms or funeral homes and showed with their actions that Jesus was still there. It’s the people. It’s relationships. It’s me. It’s you. It’s us. That is this church.
Jesus is good. He has been so good. Jesus is using us. He’s using you and me, and He’s using the broken and the messed up and the crazy and the mundane to build the Church. We get to be a part of this! For 30 years people got to be a part of something that didn’t stop – that isn’t stopping! Jesus is still going. And now I get to dig. I get to start things and be part of things that just maybe will mean something in another 30 years. I get to build relationships with people who might just change the world in 30 years. And it wouldn’t have ever happened without the people who dug for me 30 years ago. They didn’t know who they were digging for. But they dug anyway because the Lord asked them to dig.”