To My Beloved Family at Tammany Oaks
Over 2 years ago I received a call from a preacher named Tod Vogt. He invited me to consider moving to Mandeville, LA for a year to oversee the spiritual follow-up from an incredible disaster relief ministry. That was how this small church came to have 3 full-time ministers for a season. (For a little background check out Completing the Circle)
A lot happened during that first year, including the resignation and departure of both Tod and Marcus and the difficult turmoil which followed. I do not believe it was coincidence that God found a way for there to be another person here ready to step in and serve in the middle of that storm. I am amazed that God has been able to use even me during this difficult time of uncertainty.
This past year the waters have calmed considerably. This is a noticeably different place than it was last spring. There are new faces, new attitudes and new dreams for the future. Several new families have joined us and have jumped right into the life of this community. At the same time we have said good-bye, or more accurately, “See you later” to some old friends. While I know it has been hard to see so much change, I believe that we are a healthier body now. That’s not to say that I’m responsible for this health, but rather, by the grace and mercy of God I have been blessed to walk alongside you, witness your strength and not do too much to mess things up!
I have no doubt that we were called to this place in part to love and serve this church during a difficult season. But perhaps even more so, it has also been to learn a depth of compassion and competence in ministry that no other congregation at any other time could have been more equipped to provide.
Rachel and I, through much prayer and conviction of calling have accepted an invitation to join in the ministry of planting and forming new churches in the North Texas area. This is not something we’ve come to lightly; this decision means that we are accepting a call to become missionaries and it is a calling that was placed on my heart a long time ago. I believe that our partnership with God in starting new churches is going to be more fruitful because of our relationship – past, present and future – with the body of believers at TOCC.
I have spent the past couple weeks in prayer and discussion with the elders and I truly believe that we can walk together in this transition. Too often churches handle these situations with detached businesslike proficiency. Not so with us. Not this time. We’ve been through too much in such a short period of time to take such a huge step back. This is not a place of business, this is a place of worship; we are not a company, we are a family. We are the Body of Christ and this will continue to be so.
As I said, the decision to pursue this missionary work is something I’ve felt called to for several years, but the timing has been something over which we’ve spent many hours in prayer, seeking wisdom and guidance. I truly believe that the time is right. Tammany Oaks is ready to move forward. Ready to dream and cast vision. Ready to step into the next season of tremendous growth and impact in this community. There has been an opportunity for everyone to catch their breath and regroup and now the time to rise up has come.
TOCC is not known for being normal – and in keeping with that tradition, this transition is not going to be normal either. As with most missionaries, Rachel and I are going to be raising support to enter this mission field. That means that we don’t know how soon we’ll be relocating. I wanted to communicate all this with the elders and with TOCC early, in part so that we can work through this transition together. My intention, desire and prayer is to assist in whatever ways possible on the front end of this upcoming season of dreaming and vision casting, because you have become so dear to me. I am thankful for the members of this body because of our partnership in the Gospel. And I am confident that the One who has begun a good work in you will carry it on to completion.
It is right for me to feel this way about all of you since I have you in my heart. And this is my prayer for TOCC: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.