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Pastor’s Note


Nervous Excitement
As I’ve been preparing this week for a trip to India later this month, I’ve felt two sets of emotions increasing at the same time: nervous anxiety right alongside exhilarating excitement. I want to share just a little window into my heart on this and particularly ask you to pray, since I’m learning as well that both of these emotions should drive me to prayer and increased dependence upon God’s sovereign plans and care for me.

Skeets Simonis, one of our ruling elders, and I are leaving for India October 16 to serve alongside one of our longtime mission partners, Reaching Indians Ministries International (RIMI). RIMI has planted hundreds of churches in India and several other neighboring countries, and every two years the pastors and church planters gather for a week-long conference for training and encouragement. Skeets and I will get to worship and fellowship with about 2,000 other people at this conference, and I will have the opportunity to preach a couple of times while Skeets also leads a seminar on church leadership.

The following week we will stay at the RIMI seminary in Nagpur where I will be teaching a class in the story of the Bible and how to use it as a pastor to 23 second-year seminary students who are training to be church planters and leaders. We are particularly looking forward to the more personal relationships we will get to develop with this smaller group during this intensive week together.

As I anticipate this trip, the emotions I’ve been feeling remind me of emotions I’ve felt before the first day of school, the night before getting married, the day we brought our first child home, the night before being installed as senior pastor at Southwood, and several other times in life. It’s the hopeful anticipation that “this could be really, phenomenally great” … nagged by that doubtful concern of “but what if it’s not?”.

For instance, I couldn’t be more excited about preaching the good news of Jesus and his kingdom to people around the world – some of whom will go from the conference to villages where people have never heard the gospel before! And at the same time, that exciting reality brings with it the challenge of communicating across cultures through a translator to people who won’t understand a college football analogy and pastor churches that feel very different from the one I pastor.

I’m anxious about leaving my family for two weeks but eager to worship with brothers and sisters who have experienced different aspects of our Father’s perfect character. I’m excited about having my vision of God’s global kingdom expanded as I see firsthand how he is at work in India and nervous about the travel to get there. I’m looking forward to being stretched by Indian culture and enjoying Indian food while also cautious about communication in the city and real potential for illness that I haven’t felt before.

Finally, we’re so excited about getting to be a part of that seminary class, where five hours a day together for four straight days should allow for meaningful relationships with brothers and sisters (all of whom speak English in addition to Hindi!). At the same time, I’m acutely aware as I prepare that teaching a seminary-level class is far beyond my abilities, training, and experience. Add to that the fact that training others to be pastors when I feel I’ve just started that journey myself, and the result is quite a daunting task.

And that’s where I am on processing these emotions right now. As I look back to becoming a husband, a father, or a pastor – times when I’ve felt these emotions before – I’m pretty sure the nervousness comes from this accurate sense of being both wholly inadequate and wholly undeserving of such a high privilege. In that respect, then, nervous excitement is an appropriate feeling that should drive me (and us) to prayers of gratitude for God’s grace in giving us these undeserved opportunities and prayers of desperation for God’s empowering Spirit to do that which he has called us to do that we could never do apart from him. Please pray in these ways for us as we go – and I hope you find yourself driven to pray similar prayers for yourself in other situations, too.