Summer is here and there is much going on around Walnut Street and around the world through our people. Right now, as I write, we have members ministering in Nigeria, Kenya, Brazil and Haiti! Wow! Is that cool or what? Cool may not be the best word, but you get the picture! It’s beautiful!
And have you noticed the increase in our younger adults and college students since we overhauled the first service last fall? Yesterdays first service had lots of younger adults that came for the first time. The word is finally getting around that there is a lot going on at Walnut Street and there are places for the younger adults to serve.
Which brings me to my primary topic today. I announced Sunday morning a called business meeting for Sunday, June 17th, that we might deal with the calling of Paul Gibson as our Missions Pastor/Preaching Associate. Paul has been leading our college ministry since last fall and preached Sunday, June 10th with Kris in Haiti. Paul will preach for me this coming Sunday, June 17th.
We have a timely opportunity to take another giant step in continuing to gradually transition our church to one that attracts, engages and appeals to a younger generation, a generation that is very missional in their desire to follow Christ. The proposed addition of Paul Gibson as Missions Pastor/Preaching Associate is of great significance.
We have been wonderfully blessed that God brought Paul Gibson and his family to Walnut Street last fall, with the express purpose to help us continue to attract and engage the younger generation. Paul came to us on a mission, and now we have the opportunity to take another step in the necessary direction of increasing younger persons in this church.
Paul and his wife Tara have been married 9 years. The Gibsons have two children, daughter Natalie Ryan, 3, and son Isaac, 5 months. Paul’s recent resume will be available Sunday. Paul has a Master of Arts in Transformational Leadership from Bethel Seminary and served a three-year internship at Willow Creek Church in suburban Chicago. Tara holds a Master of Science degree in Physical Therapy.
This development/opportunity has come on us quickly, and from the pastor’s perspective, is easily one of the most exciting things that has happened since I have been pastor. To have the chance to begin to penetrate the campus at U of L with the help and cooperation of the Kentucky Baptist Convention through our Missions Pastor/Preaching Associate is an amazing development that we would have never anticipated even two months ago. The resignation of the campus minister at U of L last month opened up the discussions with the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
I truly believe God orchestrated the situation for us to proceed with this plan. It is a win/win/win scenario. The church wins because we are blessed to be able to make a huge move in the right direction of continuing our effort to reach more young persons. It is a win for the KBC because they are able to staff the campus with a very able interim who will “be there” when the students return in less than two months!! And last, but not least, the Kingdom impact of this is great.
Let me take us through a timeline of the last 14 months:
1. In April of 2011, the Walnut Street Great Commission Task Force, made up of a broad cross-section of our members, brought their final recommendation set to the church for approval.
2. Included in the four recommendation categories was the addition of a young Missions Pastor/Preaching Associate. With the understood need for our church to begin to put younger leadership on the platform each Sunday, this pastor would preach regularly. He would also provide leadership for all our missions endeavors, beginning with all we do in the city (including the Walnut Street Academy and CSM), and extending to our global missions efforts.
3. The church approved the Great Commission Task Force Report by a vote of 82% in favor of the recommendations.
4. Our finance team, with the approval of the deacons and the church, approved the current fiscal year budget, which allowed for the hiring of the Missions Pastor/Preaching Associate at mid-year, which was May 1.
5. Three weeks ago, we began discussions with the Kentucky Baptist Convention regarding our cooperation with the campus ministry at the University of Louisville. After much prayer and conversation, we reached a cooperative agreement that Paul Gibson would become the interim campus minister at U of L. This interim position will run through the end of the year. This is an amazing opportunity for us to extend our outreach to the U of L campus. Though the campus position is interim, this will really help raise awareness on the campus as to what God is doing at Walnut Street!
6. Last week our Personnel Committee met and voted to bring Paul on as our Missions Pastor/Preaching Associate. Their recommendation went to our deacons for affirmation on Monday night. Paul’s position with us is permanent, while the campus minister position is interim. For the first six months or so, he will be generally splitting his time between Walnut Street and the campus.
7. Our by laws read thusly:
A. The Personnel Committee will recruit, interview and employ all positions except the pastor. Individuals who have been called of God under the direction of the Holy Spirit shall be sought. Employment will be within the framework of the church budget.
B. The Personnel Committee is charged to consult with the pastor, other appropriate church committees, provide information to the deacons, and to seek church affirmation before taking action to employ any ministerial personnel.
8. Thus we brought Paul for affirmation to the deacons Monday night and will bring him for church affirmation on Sunday, June 17th.
So God continues to work in incredible ways in our midst. Only God could have arranged the circumstances in such a timely manner, bringing his parties together at just the right time! Walnut Streeters, it is truly exciting to see what God is doing in our midst as the plan continues to unfold! I am reminded of my favorite Scripture verse, Eph 3:20-21 Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think—according to the power that works in you—to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever! Amen. Do you believe that passage? Really believe it? Or do you believe that our best days are in the past? I beseech you to seek God’s perspective and come to believe that God cannot be through with Walnut Street, if we will continue to take steps of faith in pursuit of Him!