Dear Church Family,
In October we will be celebrating sixty years of ministry as a local church. That is amazing and a blessing! Our church has been blessed throughout the years by faithful people who invested their lives here at Oakhill. And it is upon their love for the Lord and sacrificial investments that we continue to build the legacy of the Gospel right here on Oak Hill Road.
Our most recent former pastor is Rev. Glen Flowers, who is an active member in our church to this day. He and his sweet wife Naomi are here almost every Sunday praising the Lord and supporting me as their Pastor. I cannot tell you how much this encourages me. I love this precious couple because before I came to Oakhill they served this church faithfully for twenty-one years! I am so thankful that when Glen retired, he gave the pastor search committee my information for them to contact me about praying about coming to Oakhill. I was not looking to leave where I was, but God was moving in the details. I found myself being called to Oakhill and God has blessed me and my family for the last seventeen years. Between Glen and I, we have served thirty-eight years of the sixty years this church has been established. I think he would agree with me that the only way you can stay around in a church for that long is when you have others who stick with you faithfully through the years.
Planting yourself in a local church for the long term produces good fruit in your life and in the life of the church. No church is perfect, and for sure no pastor is perfect. But if we can stick together and keep our eyes on Jesus, we can build a legacy of faith together. Please consider this article I found on this topic and consider the points that the author makes.
7 Advantages of Long-Term Church Membership by Karl Vaters
The best things in life don’t come in a hurry. They take time. But they’re worth the investment. Sometimes it seems like everyone is leaving the church. But that’s not the case. While we’re right to be concerned about church-hoppers and church-droppers, people don’t typically go to a church with the plan of leaving soon. Most want to put down roots and stay committed for the long haul. There’s always a core group of faithful people at the heart of every healthy congregation. Our lives and our churches are better because of them. Here are just a few advantages of staying put in a congregation through the good times and bad:
- You develop deeper relationships: While it’s always nice to meet new folks (and it’s God’s work on earth to help them connect with your circle of friends)
there’s nothing like knowing and growing with a group of people over a lifetime, or a major segment of your lifetime. There are so many life lessons that simply
take time to learn. No matter how smart we are or how hard we work, nothing can replace living life with people who know, love and watch out for each other
year after year and decade after decade. There are no shortcuts to deep relationships. You have to put in the time.
- You’re less likely to repeat the same cycles: If we move from church to church we can stay spiritually stuck and not know it. Everything around us has changed,
so we don’t have to. If we move from church to church we can stay spiritually stuck and not know it. It may feel like we’re growing deeper, but we may be doing nothing but repeating the same cycles in a new environment. And there’s no one in that new church who’s known us long enough to spot it, call us on it, or help
us get past it. We can also get stuck when we stay put, of course. But the repetition is more noticeable, which might provide an incentive to grow deeper. Some
of the people I most admire are longtime friends who might seem like little more than everyday churchgoers to everyone else, but I’ve watched them grow
deeper, wiser and kinder year after year.
- You can be part of the foundation that others build on: Every church needs a foundation to build on. But it’s hard to do that when the ground either grows
hard (through stubbornness) or keeps shifting (through constant coming and going). One of the reasons we honor the giants of the faith who came before us is
because they laid a foundation when they encouraged, supported and even funded our new, crazy ideas. We honor them when we do the same for those who come after us.
- You can be a great champion for both stability and change: When a newcomer or young person promotes change in the church, that’s expected. And it can be
easy to ignore. But when a long-time member champions change, it carries a lot of weight. In addition to being a landmark of stability, as we saw in the previous point, long-time members can be among the strongest proponents of necessary changes. Whenever our church has needed to make significant jumps forward, we’ve relied as much on the stability, wisdom and support of our older, longtime members as we have on the enthusiasm, energy and passion of those who are young and new. There’s so much concern about the generational divide in churches today. When we stick around a while, we can become the glue that helps bridge that divide.
- You can help a healthy church become healthier: The strongest, healthiest churches are the ones that have been around a while, have learned the hard lessons over time, and have adapted to changing circumstances while keeping solid on the essentials of the faith. That can’t happen when there are no long-timers
around, or when the long-timers grow hard and stubborn about getting their own way. But when a healthy church has a mix of newcomers and long-time
members all working together for a common vision of the future … well that’s about as good as it gets.
- You can spot and help fix problems before they get too big: There’s no substitute for the eyes of wisdom and experience. If you’ve been around a while and are paying attention, you’re often able to spot potential problems that the younger, busier church members might not see. Yes, there will always be stubborn old
coots who see problems with everything, and there will always be flighty young people who ignore the sage advice of their elders, but that doesn’t have to be the norm. If you stay steady, supportive, adaptive and kind, young people today are more willing to listen to the advice of their elders than many previous generations were. The key is to keep positive, be available and pick your battles carefully.
- You get to see and participate in generational progress: We hear a lot about churches that have grown from small to big in a short period of time. But those churches are few and far between. The typical church grows slowly and steadily. Over decades, not just a few years. The typical church grows slowly and steadily. Over decades, not in a couple years. If you invest a lifetime into a healthy church, you’ll get to see a depth of growth that few others will ever have the chance to appreciate. As believers in Jesus, we’re dealing with a timeline that’s eternal. The best things in life don’t come in a hurry. They take time. But they’re worth the investment.
I love you and I love being your pastor!