"Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul." - Psalm 66:16
Five years ago this Sunday, our family officially began our ministry here at the Pinecrest Baptist Church in McDonough, GA. We had been voted on and had accepted the pastorate in mid-July, but due to moving home from London, England and keeping several speaking engagements, we began the first Sunday of October, 2013.
The church called a 32 year-old pastor who by his own admission, was in way over his head. (Still is by the way)
Over the past five years, I stand back and in amazement raise my hands and heart in praise to my God for all of His incredible blessings in our lives and our church family.
Although there were many questions, hurts, and challenges at Pinecrest five years ago, there were so many more blessings! I want to say "thank you" to those who took a chance on a young pastor to come and lead such a great church family.
I recently read in an article that the average tenure for Senior Pastors in the United States is 20 months. My father, who has pastored for many years told me, "you cannot make a difference if you don't stay long enough to see it through." I prayed when I came to Pinecrest that God would allow me to stay long enough to make a difference. I cannot believe that five years have come and gone so quickly! It literally in some ways feels like we have only been here 5 months! In other ways, because we have seen God do so much, it feels like we have been here 20 years! Our five year anniversary is exactly that, OURS! Not mine, not my family, but all of us as a church family. God has been gracious to give us five years together, and I praise Him for His grace in all of our lives!
As I reminisce over these past few years, I would like to share several things with our church family that I praise the Lord for and thank you as a church family for on this anniversary weekend.
1. Thank You For Loving The Truth
Every week, it is the greatest privilege of my life to open God's Word and declare it as so. I have witnessed God deepen our church family through His Word and have watched the passion of our church family increase for the truth of God's Word. There is nothing more important than the Word of God being preached and received in a church body each week. Thank you for loving and living the truth!
2. Thank You For Loving Our Family
No pastor is perfect, no pastor's family is perfect. We are fundamentally flawed as sinful people. The Pinecrest family has lovingly embraced our family and made us a part of you. We do not just attend church at Pinecrest, we are a part of the Pinecrest family. What an encouragement so many of you have been to me, Sara, Titus, and Sydney throughout these five years! My wife and I need a strong marriage, and you have encouraged that! Our children have not lived under scrutiny or unrealistic expectations, you have let them be kids, now teens, with such grace. I cannot say thank you enough for your love, prayer, and encouragement for our family.
3. Thank You For Following Faith
The Scripture exhorts the local church in Hebrews 13:7 "Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation."
Over the past five years Pinecrest has willingly and eagerly followed the vision that God has laid on my heart and I cannot thank you and praise the Lord enough for this blessing! Here are just a few things that come to mind:
- Embracing a service schedule change that had been the same for over fifty years!
- Retiring debt that many of you were not here when it was incurred.
- Giving sacrificially to missions endeavors that many have never seen.
- Planting by faith the Colorado Springs Baptist Church. (Now indigenous and supporting missionaries!)
- Purchasing property in front of our facility.
- Remodeling projects in our current facility.
- Community Outreach Events (Tailgate Sunday, Kickoff Night, Friends and Family Day, and many other gospel endeavors)
- Investing in our Community
- Starting a RU Program
- Hosting a Single's Conference
The list could go on and on, but the key is that you have by faith followed and we have celebrated together so many times by seeing souls saved, lives changed, and God glorified!
4. Thank You For Surrounding Me With Great Leadership
When I became the pastor, I was thankful that there was a great team of staff members, deacons, and godly leaders already in place. As the church has grown, the need for more leaders has arisen and God has been faithful to provide who we need when we need! Thank you pastoral staff and wives who willingly carry very heavy burdens and do so with joy. You guys are the absolute best staff in the world, we love each of you and count you as some of our dearest friends. Deacons, thank you for your godly counsel, example, love, encouragement, and care. You and your wives have been such an encouragement to our family and we thank God for you. So many of you have stepped up to the plate and have served, encouraged, given, loved, prayed, worked, and sacrificed over these past five years to see God's work go forward. I am eternally thankful to the Lord for you!
5. Thank You For Your Consistent Faithfulness
Oscar Wilde once stated: "Success is going a long way in the same direction." The most encouraging thing to me about the Pinecrest family is your faithfulness to Jesus Christ, His Word, His Work, and His people! After five years, I have watched the ebb and flow of ministry. I have wept with many of you over the past five years. I have rejoiced with many of you. I have celebrated life milestones with you and your family. I have had the privilege to counsel and shepherd many of you through deep valleys. I have seen God move mightily in church services with you. I have also seen Sundays where many might just call it an ordinary Sunday. What blesses and encourages me the most is that through every season of life and ministry, you have stayed faithful! You continue to walk with God, serve the Lord, and be used for His glory in the local church! Thank you for your consistency and faithfulness, it is priceless!
6. Thank You For Dreaming With Me!
When I arrived five years ago, I could only dream of what God has done in our hearts and in this place! I remember the first time we had Vision Night in January, 2014 when our theme for the year was "I Believe God!"' Many of us stepped out in faith and wrote down some big things we were believing God for that year. We have sat back in amazement and watched God turn what was only a dream into reality! I wrote down on the Foundations Room concrete floor before we remodeled it and carpeted it these requests almost five years ago:
- Purchase The Property In Front Of Our Building
- Pay Off One Million Dollars of Debt
- Baptize 50 Converts
- Start a Building Program for an Auditorium in 7 years
With joy I can tell you that God has done exceeding abundantly above all that I could ask, think, or dream! Wow! God is so good! Thank you for letting me dream and dreaming with me about what God can do!
7. Thank You For Letting Me Develop As A Pastor
Admittedly, I know that God is working on me and teaching me truth about Him and myself. I have much to learn and much that needs to be developed in my life to grow as a pastor, mentor, leader, friend, shepherd, preacher, and in every other way! I want to thank you for patiently letting me develop and grow in these areas of my life. From conferences that I have attended, books that I have read, and times away to refresh my spirit and get alone with the Lord, the leadership in our church has faithfully encouraged me to do so. Thank you for helping me realize the importance of continuing to develop and grow as a pastor and enabling me to do so. I want to do more and be more for the Lord.
8. Finally, Thank You For Continuing!
With many new days in front of us and challenges before us, I am thankful that so many of you have made the commitment to continue to serve the Lord here with us at Pinecrest! We live in a growing community where many people move in and many move away. While they are here, many have come to Christ, been baptized, discipled, and taught and are now in churches all around the country. Many of you have continued right here and I am so grateful for your commitment. I believe that God has raised up our church in our community and nation for "such a time as this." By His grace, lets all continue to reach people and make more of a difference in the next five years than the first five together! I cannot wait to see what our God is going to do!
From our family to our church family, Thank You for five wonderful amazing years of serving the Lord together! We love you!
John, Sara, Titus, and Sydney Anderson
2 Corinthians 4:7
"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us."