A New Time & Place for Freshwater Church

The following letter was given to all Freshwater Church members and attenders following worship on Sunday, September 2nd.

Freshwater family,

Today marks an important moment in the life of Freshwater Church. Today we move out of the facility that we have called home for the past six and one half years, and we step out into a future that is initially marked by a time of transition but we believe ultimately will result in seeing our mission to glorify God through advancing the Gospel move forward in tremendous ways. I realize that for many today is one of those bittersweet days because we look to our past and our hearts are filled with joy at all that the Lord has done here among us, and we also look to the future with expectant hope and some real questions. Please know that if I, or any of our elders, can minister to you in any way that we definitely want to do that for you; please let us know how we can serve you and your family.

Beginning next Sunday, September 9th, our church will gather for weekly corporate worship at The Esquire Theater in downtown Bolivar from 5:00 – 6:30 PM. The Esquire is owned by FBC Bolivar and is located on Chestnut Street, next door to Ozark Offset Printing, one block north of 3G’s Frozen Custard on the square. There is ample parking located to the side and behind the theater building.

During our time at The Esquire we will provide weekly Pre-k childcare during our service times. Childcare will be located in the FBC main building. Attached to this letter you will find a map that shows the most convenient drop-off location, the closest doors to use, and which rooms our children will be in. You can take your child to their Pre-k room starting at 4:45 each week. We will continue to staff our Pre-k childcare from within our own congregation; if you are interested in serving in the Pre-k rotation please let Amber Tucker or myself know and we can put you into the rotation.

Freshwater Church I love you very much and I believe that the Lord has great things in store for us in the days to come. Transition can be difficult and it is important that we take extra time and attention to love one another well, serve one another, fight for one another, and pray for one another. I believe that together we can see the Lord work in us and through us powerfully even while we are experiencing transition. 

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” 

Hebrews 10:24–25

 

This map can be used as a reference for Pre-k Drop-off & Pick-up, as well as Parking, while Freshwater meets at The Esquire

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A Major Update on Freshwater’s Transition & Future

** This statement was read during our weekly worship gathering on August 26th

This morning I want to take a few moments to update everyone on some very exciting developments in the process your elders have been pursuing the last several weeks to join Freshwater with a local partner church as our next chapter of church life and ministry. 

When we first began to explore the possibility of selling our facilities back in April I met with a local pastor to share what God was asking us to consider and what it seemed like the Lord was leading us to do. I told him that if we were to sell our building one of the options we might consider would be a merger that would join our church with a local partner church, and if the Lord were to lead us that direction then we would likely consider your church first among others.

That pastor is Billy Russell and that church is First Baptist Church, Bolivar. 

Over the course of the past three weeks your elders have met with Pastor Billy, key leaders at FBC, the full ministry staff, the fellowship of deacons, and the Church Leadership Council all in separate meetings to present to them this exciting ministry opportunity and to ask the question, “Is the Holy Spirit in this process and this possibility?” Through the course of every successive meeting we have shared our story, our thoughts, our mission, our vision, and our hopes for the future, and the concept of joining our two churches together has been met with hospitality and nothing but unanimous votes from the various ministry and leadership teams at FBC.

These are definitely exciting developments as we continue to work through our transition into the next chapter of Glorifying God and Advancing the Gospel together. I know you probably have many questions and thoughts and we want to hear those in the meeting that we will have shortly after this service dismisses.

Before we get to that though I want to read to you the announcement that is being shared by Pastor Billy during all of the FBC morning worship services today:

“Believing the Holy Spirit has led us to this ministry moment, the Church Leadership Council has unanimously approved the forming of a Steering Committee to further guide the concept and process of Freshwater Church joining First Baptist Bolivar for the furtherance [advance] of the Gospel. This concept was recently brought to the CLC by the Elders of Freshwater with the unanimous support of our Ministry Staff and Fellowship of Deacons. 

I will chair the Steering Cmte. Four of our members will serve with me. We will collaborate with select leaders from Freshwater, designing a process to further study this ministry opportunity. 

At this time no official decision has been made to join these two bodies of believers. Many steps, including a church vote, will be needed. As you can imagine in this early stage of the process, there are many logistical issues yet to be explored and answered. So, please be ever prayerful as this process moves forward. We anticipate a time in the near future for the Elders of Freshwater to share their story with our church and their reasons for this request. We will make those dates and times available when they are known.

Please, out of respect for the brothers and sisters of Freshwater, wait to post this information on social media platforms until later this afternoon. They are also announcing this news and process today. 

Thank you for your prayerful response to this ministry news. May the Lord guide our steps for His purposes of grace through this exploratory process. May He lead us to know and do His will as He reveals it in His time. To God Be the glory!”

I love you Freshwater and I believe whole heartedly that we are walking in step with the Spirit of God as we pursue joining Freshwater and First Baptist. I ask that you stay and discuss this opportunity with us, pray for our church family and for the family of FBC, pray for all of the leaders who will be guiding both churches through this process. Great days are in front of us for the glory of God and for the advance of the Gospel in our city and to the nations. 

With great love for you Freshwater,

Pastor Dave

A Slip & Fall… What a Wipeout Taught Me About Pastoring

Yesterday I slipped and fell. Hard.

I know in our town and possibly in many others there may have been some questions about whether or not school ought to have been cancelled. Well, I’m with the schools on this one. I’m throwing my support behind better safe than sorry.

I wiped out embarrassingly hard at the top of my driveway on the way back toward my house after starting Kingsley (my 2011 Subaru Outback) to warm the car up. Not to be overly dramatic but this was the kind of fall that happens in an instant and still seems to happen in slow motion. My life did not flash before my eyes, but I was instantly terrified about my back because three and half years ago I suffered a burst fracture of my T12 vertebrae. So now with every winter and the attending snow and ice I feel like I’m playing at a high risk gambit with spine/life. Never mind the fact that due to the pitch of our driveway every time it snows, ices, or sleets the driveway is suddenly transformed into a Olympic-caliber luge (the other day I tried parking Kingsley toward the top of the driveway three times only to slide down to the bottom and that with the parking brake set)!

I landed on my tailbone first and then immediately proceeded to smack the back of my head against the frozen cement resulting in an instant ringing in my ears, shortness of breath, and general disorientation. Oh, and my glasses went flying off somewhere too (since recovered). What followed was I’m certain quite the sight as I stumbled into the house and called out to Laurel to come examine me as I more or less collapsed at the side of our bed. I had (still have…) a substantial goose egg on my head complete with abrasions, some small abrasions on my right hand, and today I’m realizing that I must have gone through some degree of whiplash as well.

Rough stuff to start off an otherwise run of the mill Tuesday morning.

The Bible teaches us that our lives “are a vapor/mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:14), and that we should “number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). I don’t think that I really came anywhere close to dying in my driveway yesterday. In fact, after taking some extra time to rest and recover in the morning after lunch I went on with the rest of my day as close to scheduled as possible. However, there was just enough panic and pain in this experience to remind me that my days are limited and tomorrow (or the rest of today) is never guaranteed to me, as much as the organization and accoutrement of my life may try to get me to believe otherwise.

In our weekly prayer guide for Monday night prayer we asked the church family to pray through the following:

 

This week the elders of Freshwater Church are asking for special prayer as we undertake to set out specific plans for Freshwater’s next chapter of church life and ministry. Pray that as we gather together that we would have wisdom from the Lord. Pray that as we seek feedback from the members of Freshwater that we would have ears to hear and that we would be all the more humble and considerate. Pray that we hear from God himself! It is our deepest desire to shepherd Freshwater Church well and we absolutely cannot do that apart from the Holy Spirit moving in us and through us. Pray that the elder council will have unity together and would continuously love and lay ourselves down for the church. 

 

And then on Tuesday morning I ate it at the top of my driveway.

To be a pastor who has a heart of wisdom I have to understand that my days of shepherding Freshwater Church are numbered, by the Lord. There will come a day, by one mean or another, that I will no longer be a pastor-shepherd to Freshwater Church. I hope and pray that such a day is far from today.

Regardless of when that day is to be a faithful pastor to the church means discipling and training others in such a way that they can take my place and thrive, it means keeping the pastoral office in tune with Jesus and our people to such a degree that another might receive it from the Chief Shepherd and be able to succeed, and it means leading the church in such a way that when that numbered day does come whenever it may be that we can transition well by keeping on with our mission to glorify God and advance the Gospel and flourish together as a family all the while.

I am not there yet. If I had gone home to the Lord in my driveway yesterday, or if the Lord called my family to a new assignment tomorrow we would not be ready. The next pastor nor the church would be in the best possible position to thrive, succeed, and flourish in and through transition. I am sorry and I hope for our church family’s forgiveness and partnership as we go forward.

Over the course of the next several weeks the elders will be taking intentional steps to put our church and its leaders, both present and future, in the best possible position to thrive, succeed, and flourish. We will be seeking insight and feedback from the members of Freshwater Church and addressing matters of leadership structure, ministry continuity, and most importantly God’s vision for the future of Freshwater Church. We are excited to labor with our entire church family in this effort, and you will be hearing more on this initiative on a Sunday morning very soon. I hope all of our church family will commit to praying for Freshwater and with our leaders as we strive to “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

In Christ’s Love,

Dave