Today was a big day in the life of our church. The candidate that the Pastor Search Committee presented to the church yesterday was to preach view of a call in both of our service times. I was incredibly excited to hear the message God was going to give to us through this man and I was hoping that a lot of people would be blessed through the service time.
The PSC had thought through how this day should be scheduled and had recommended that we delay the vote until after the second service. This would allow our entire church body to gather together as one unified body for this critical vote in the life of our church. I cannot recall any other time in the last ten years that our church has gathered together in such a fashion and I was looking forward to the event.
After our Sunday School hour, we headed upstairs to the sanctuary for the second service. They began the service with some announcements, reiterating when the vote would take place and explaining the process once more for the attendees. Our PSC chairman read through the official introduction of the candidate and then we prayed for the day. At this point, my excitement was building, but I felt that there was a lot of it already in the room. When we began singing, the difference in that time of worship was readily apparent. People were not merely attending the service; they were participating in the service. The voices that arose around me spoke to the magnificence of the Lord. I stood in the pew singing along with my brothers and sisters and felt the presence of the Lord and couldn't help but cry my way through the final song.
As the candidate began his sermon, you could feel the excitement level in the room increase with each passing moment. God was moving in His people and was using this man to bring glory to His name. The topic of the sermon: prayer. Throughout the message, God kept reminding me of how much I had prayed about the pastor He had ready for us. God reminded me of the numerous times Lisa and I prayed that God would move in our church and prepare the members for the man God had for us. God reminded me of the dozens of PSC meetings where we prayed for God to lead us to His man for us. I sat and listened and praised God for bringing us to this moment.
After the service was over, everyone went to pick up their children from the nursery so that even the workers could participate in the unified vote. There was a 10 minute break between the service and the meeting. During this time, Lisa and I moved to the balcony so that some of the older members could have our seats on the main level. We sat in the second row just off of center. From this vantage point I stood and watched as our church came together as one. I had several people approach me and thank me for my hard work and stated that they thought the candidate was great. My excitement continued to grow.
In our church, the candidate has to receive a two-thirds majority to be called as pastor. Several people had asked me if this man had set a goal of the percentage he would accept as confirming that God had called him to be our pastor. To the best of my knowledge, this man was preaching in front of us because he felt led to be our pastor and didn't have a percentage in mind to confirm this. But I wasn't sure. I could not recall him ever stating anything about such a goal, but I couldn't say that we had asked him either. So it was an unknown factor.
In our PSC meetings, we had talked about what we hoped for in a vote. We wanted it to be an overwhelmingly positive vote so that neither the church body nor the candidate had any reason to doubt his calling. And yet, we knew that there was a pocket of negativity within our church that seemed to be trying to hamper the possibility of an objective vote. We had met with some of these people to relieve some of their fears and had given them a bunch of information that the rest of the church did not have. Some of them seemed to be reassured and happy with what we had presented to them while others seemed only more entrenched in their opposition to this man that they had never me or heard. This was an issue we spent a lot of time on during the last two weeks leading up to this day. We didn't know how many people had already made up their mind against this man, but we knew they were out there. How many would it be? 10? 50? 100? We didn't know. And there was no way to know if these people had influenced others before meeting this man. We prayed hard about it and left it in God's hands.
The meeting began and the candidate was given a moment to speak to the congregation. He thanked the PSC for our diligence and for allowing his identity to remain anonymous until Saturday's Q&A. He explained why this was important to not only him but to the life of the church he was currently leading. He thanked our church for considering him for the position and for being so kind to him and his family. And with that, this man stepped down from the stage and the vote was called for. People filled out their ballots and passed them to the deacons who took them to the back to count them. While the votes were being counted, our two worship leaders led us in a couple of songs. My excitement was peaked and I was praying that God would allow our efforts to be fruitful and that this man would lead our church to reaching the lost in our community.
The deacons returned from the back where they had been counting. The candidate returned to the room with his family. The chairman of our Board of Stewards began to read the results of the vote. The vote was 969 in favor, 31 opposed! At that moment, I was overcome with incredible relief. Everything that I had felt about this man from the first time we met him had been confirmed. Every fear or doubt about the church liking him or calling him to be our pastor was dispelled.
And then God revealed to me how awesome He is in how He works all things for His glory. A shout of joy erupted from somewhere in the room and was immediately echoed from throughout the building. People clapped. People whistled. The entire room stood to their feet. I remained in my seat and wept like a baby. I was completely and utterly overwhelmed by the response. The vote count was incredible, but this response was beyond anything that I had asked or imagined. This room that has for so many years seen the people react to the Goodness of God with the enthusiasm of a golf clap was being shaken with excitement. The happiness and joy expressed within that moment said so much more than the actual vote itself. God’s people were excited and hopeful about what He was going to do with this man leading us. God was allowing me to see the extent of what I had been apart of and it was huge.
I cannot wait to see how God moves in our church and leads us to the place where we are impacting the community for Christ. It’s amazing to look back and see where He has brought me during this process, and I look forward to where He will take me in the coming days, weeks and months.
To God be the glory!