Wednesday, June 14, 2006

An Open Letter of Thanks to Bethlehem Baptist Church

Thank you for allowing me to be your first Church Planting Resident. In these brief months the Lord has been pleased to forge a relationship between us that, should the Lord tarry, I trust will serve the advance of the gospel for generations to come. It is with great eagerness we look forward to partnering with you in spreading a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ.

It was not without cost that you brought my family to Minneapolis for the year, invested in us, and pledged to stand behind the planting of Grace Church in downtown Memphis. I admire your selfless service of the gospel that is being manifested in a glad-hearted promotion of the kingdom of Jesus, not your own empire.

In particular, I praise the Lord for your commitment to doctrinal fidelity. I'm often asked, "Why are you planting a new church? Aren't there already enough churches?" I'm thankful that you are asking the exact opposite question, namely; "How can we plant more churches?" I'm also thankful that your question always carries a qualifier - "...more like-minded churches?" It is not elitist that you are less interested in quantity than kinship, and for this, I thank God for you.

According to "what works" in today's church planting landscape, you are doing everything wrong. I'm thankful that you are altogether oblivious to labyrinths, missional codes, the latest church techno gadgets, loud (but theologically silent) music, and the monocultural comforts of suburban America. But be not dismayed. Grace Church is certainly not the first evidence in your storied 135 year history proving that Christ's church-establishing favor rests upon you. Be humbled as you continue to be a conduit of His grace to this fallen world. You are a sharp tool in the hand of the Builder of His Church. Until He comes again, may He be pleased to use you to prepare His Bride - spotless, blameless, and beyond reproach.

As we set out to join a band of sister churches who have been sent out from you in times past, I tremble at the weight of the responsibility of representing the Almighty. Thank you for willingly extending your hand to help us navigate the waters. May God be greatly glorified as we now Treasure Christ Together and seek to advance the kingdom of the King of Kings! Lord willing I'll see you in July and have the great joy of thanking you in person. Until then, thank you all.

In Christ, John 3:30
Jordan Thomas

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