Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
A note to be read at the special all-church strategy meeting,
May 20, 2012, concerning the vote for Jason Meyer
as Associate Pastor for Preaching & Vision.
The qualifications for elders and deacons are given in 1 Timothy 3. These are needed because Paul said in verse 10: “Let them also be tested first; then let them serve.”
Jason Meyer, has in a sense, been tested by some of us at Bethlehem for the last 12 years. We knew him as a TBI student for two years. We followed him during his Masters and Doctoral studies at Southern Seminary. We watched as he pastored Orville Baptist Church, and Parkway Baptist Church, and as he taught at Louisiana College and ministered in Ethiopia. We watched even more closely as he came to teach at Bethlehem Seminary and became an integral part of ministry at the North Campus.
And for the last seven weeks you have all been part of the testing of Jason Meyer as he has fielded dozens of questions and preached for three successive weekends.
During this last phase of public examination it has seemed wise to me not to be a part of any of those discussions, nor to discuss any matters with Jason. We have not had a conversation about the process in the last seven weeks and I have not attended any of the elder examinations or public discussions with Jason.
My aim in this has been to avoid any impression of coaching or shaping Jason as to how he should answer questions or present himself. It seemed wise to me that you should meet and know the most authentic Jason possible as he is in himself.
In addition it seemed to me that my presence at any of these interactions could limit your freedom to ask questions that might call attention to comparisons or contrasts between Jason and me. That’s why I have avoided those meetings, and why I am not present tonight.
But I write this note to make sure you know that my absence is in no way sign of indifference to, or lack of enthusiasm for, what is happening on this historic evening. I would love to be there and watch how God moves among you in this crucial vote.
It would not be exaggerating to say that this vote is probably one of the top two or three most significant and historic congregational votes this church has taken or will take in the 60 years between 1980 and 2040. Yes, I am hoping and praying that you will give Jason overwhelming affirmation in this vote and that he will stay with us at least that long.
I commend him to you as your Associate Pastor for Preaching & Vision, and I have every hope and desire that, with your affirmation, this title will, some time next year, be changed to Pastor for Preaching & Vision.
The reason for my commendation is in essence that I believe God has called Jason Meyer to this ministry. We are all aware that the hand of God in providence is not as easy to read as the word of God in Scripture. That is why we test all things by the written word of God.
But the Scriptures do not tell us who the next Lead Pastor for Preaching & Vision should be. Instead, the Bible gives us guidelines, and it shapes our ways of thinking and feeling. The Holy Spirit uses his inspired word to equip us for “every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17). One of those good works is the discernment of God’s call on Jason’s life.
That is what I have been praying during all these months of testing—that God would give to the search team, the elders, the pastoral staff, and finally to you, the Spirit-led, Bible-saturated, Christ-exalting, church-strengthening discernment needed to see the call of God in the life of Jason Meyer.
My own sense is that from all eternity God planned to love this church by raising up Jason Meyer at this very time in the way he is doing. We the leaders have no sense that we managed to bring Bethlehem to this moment. God did this. And it is marvelous in our eyes. That is what I see and what I believe.
I am overjoyed at the prospect of Jason’s affirmation. Not only do I believe God is loving this church in this very moment, I feel deeply loved myself. I have wondered for years how my successor would arise. And now, as I watch it unfold before my eyes, I am simply amazed at the mighty love of God for his church—and for me.
Deep down I feel a sweet pleasure that the last 32 years could be written down in the history of this church as an acceptable foundation for the glory of what is about to be built in the decades to come.
May God give you discernment by his Spirit and according to his word.
I love you,