Step Of Faith!

Yesterday, I resigned as Pastor of the church that I have had the honor and privilege of serving with for the past thirteen years.  I am so thankful for the ministry that God has allowed us to share.  While all churches and pastors have their challenges and struggles, I have been fortunate to have a congregation of men, women, boys and girls that have supported, encouraged and worked with me to accomplish some amazing things for Christ.

Our family will be stepping out on faith over the next few months to pursue the Grace Place Ministry on the Ridgewood campus.  This growing vision that God gave me a little over a year and a half ago has reached out into our community to touch thousand of lives by seeking to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of our community.  Our goal as a family is simply to make ourselves available to God, our neighbors and friends to be used is whatever way He may see fit.

As God provides more information, details and insights, I will look forward to sharing them with you in the days ahead.  May God continue to bless us all as we press on for Him and His glory.

Below is a copy of my letter of resignation that I shared with the Northwood family yesterday!

Thirteen years ago, I came to serve as the pastor of Northwood Baptist Church.  I was young, inexperienced and super excited about the potential of growing the church and impacting the community for Christ.

It was my belief that the established church was not a lost cause, but an amazing opportunity to do great things for God.  This is still my belief today, but I must confess that I have learned much a long the way and am still learning everyday.

In those early days of our ministry together, pastor and people came together in unity and love to make beautiful things happen.  God has blessed this church and this pastor in many ways and He continues to bless today.

Because of the work God had done and was doing through this church in our community, several years ago, I received a call from Ridgewood Baptist Church.  They had fallen on hard times and were looking for someway, anyway that they might continue to be faithful in their service to the King.

After meeting and praying with them over a period of several weeks and presenting them with multiple options.  They came back and presented me with the option of their turning the ministry over to my leadership to keep a ministry going there.  After spending some time in prayer, I communicated with them that I could possibly do a worship service after our service on the Northwood Campus.  The service would be a partnership between the two churches and would require the help of others from both places.

After meeting and praying for several more weeks, it was decided that I would begin a multi-site partnership worship service.  I believed then that this was an invitation from God for His people to impact our community by doing something in unity that would bring great glory to God.

A faithful handful of folks from Northwood and Ridgewood joined me and each Sunday we would worship here and then worship there.  There were ups and downs, but always a sweet spirit and calm assurance that we were doing what God desired.

After doing this ministry for a few years, the Spirit of God began to speak a vision into my heart and life about a ministry that would reach very intentionally outside the walls of the church.  A vision to help us fulfill the mandate of Jesus to “make disciples, while obeying the command to “do it to the least of these”.

I had no idea at the time, what this ministry would turn into, or how it would impact our community.  I simply knew that I needed to take a step of faith and trust God for the rest.  God had much bigger plans than my limited physical eyes could see and finite human mind could grasp.

Believing that this was the leading of God, I began to share this vision with others – my brothers and sisters in Christ.  They encouraged me to pursue it and even offered to help.

Our small steps of faith we took together, began to convert space that had sat unused for years, while a new vision from God brought a different purpose to a building built by man for God and His glory.

A very big part of starting the Grace Place ministry was a work that God was doing in and through my own life.  I love the community we live in and have long had a heart for all of it’s people.

As I began to follow the leading of the Spirit, I found myself getting out of the thermostat controlled office and into the changing weather of the streets.  The Lord opened my eyes to a world of people who have become invisible to most modern-day churches.

The Spirit was helping me to realize that there was a world of people who needed Jesus, His love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, hope and restoration.

As I have walked with these folks during the last year and a half of my life, God has shown me through His Word and the world we live in, that there is a neglected, lonely, hurting and hungry people out there.  People created by God, who long for attention, companionship and nourishment, both physical and spiritual.

I felt the calling of Jesus then, and I feel it even stronger today.  I cannot ignore it, for to do so, would be to ignore a very big part of the life that God has given me and the purpose for which He created me.

During the past year, it has become increasingly apparent to me that not everyone feels the need or has the desire to invest their life in this kind of ministry.  At first, I did not and could not understand this, but with the Spirit’s help, I have begun to understand.  I did not and could not understand at first either.  God had to take me on a journey to get me there.  In fact, I am still learning to understand.

I am so thankful to Northwood Baptist Church for the wonderful years of ministry and the teamwork that we have all seen accomplish much for the Kingdom and God’s glory.

I am thankful for your support of me as my life emotionally and spiritually has often seemed to ride a roller coaster.

I am thankful for your allowing me the space to grow my faith, so that I might step out of my comfort zone and pursue the extraordinary that flows through trust in Him and pursuit of His will.

You are an amazing group of people.  I love you more than words can say and you will always hold a very special and dear place in my heart.  Our love for you and the love that so many of you show to us has made our decision one of the hardest in our life and ministry.

After a lot prayer, seeking the wisdom of a multitude of counselors and spending much time in God’s Word, we believe that God is calling us to take another step of faith.  We believe that God has called us to resign from our service as Pastor of Northwood Baptist Church, so that we might pursue full-time building and growing of the vision and ministry of Grace Place.

This has not been an easy decision, but we believe in our heart that this is best for Northwood, Ridgewood, Grace Place and The Kingdom of God.

I plan to serve Northwood through the end of May and will assist in any way that the leadership may need in the transition.  At the end of May, my family and I will step out in faith to see what God’s plans are for the future of a ministry called Grace Place and a church known as Ridgewood by giving ourselves full-time to the pursuit and growth of the Grace Place vision that God planted in my heart a little over a year and a half ago.

Please know that we will be praying for you and ask that you please pray for us as we seek to make disciples by sharing grace!

2 thoughts on “Step Of Faith!”

  1. Michael Joe: We wish you God’s greatest blessings and success as you undertake this new chapter in your ministry.

    David and Charlotte Parris

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