It has been way too long since I have posted anything on the blog. Maybe after reading this you will understand why and I have made it a goal to be more active on the blog beginning in 2015. Thank you Sis Shari Hughson for your faithfulness to the blog in my absence.
On Sunday, December 29, 2009, I preached my first official sermon as Pastor of First Missionary Baptist Church. I had already been elected to be the next pastor months earlier, but the current Pastor wanted to finish the year as Pastor and then turn the Church over to me. That night I was excited to finally be back into the Pastorate. I was filled with energy and ready for whatever the future had in store, or so I thought.
The first 2 years were amazing. We saw God bless in a mighty way and saw the average attendance of the Church more than double. In early 2012, we saw God continue to grow the Church and never was it more evident than on Easter Sunday. My very first Sunday as Pastor there were 28 in attendance. On Easter Sunday 2012 we had 80 people in attendance. That is nearly a 200% increase in just a little over 2 years.
Two weeks later, my heart was shattered as I watched approximately half the Church walk out the back doors never to return. Over the next 8 months, we saw others leave due to job relocation, others quit attending all together, and others left to attend other Churches in the area. By the time January of 2013 rolled around, I was once again preaching to less than 30 on a weekly basis.
Over the next year, we continued to struggle as a Church: very few visitors attending, low offerings, poor spirit in the services. Many times I wondered what was wrong with the Church. Was God done with me here? I got so discouraged in the progress being made that I made a commitment at the beginning of 2014 that if God did not change the Church, I would resign and move back to Florida.
God did make a change in 2014, but that change mostly had to do with me, not the Church. I had pastored for nearly 2 full years with resentment toward those that left. I preached as an angry pastor. Instead of leading the flock, I was driving the flock but sheep are meant to be led not driven.
A Pastor friend Astatula, FL began to invest time in counseling and helping me. He gave me words of wisdom that helped change my perspective on things. He sent reading materials to help me mature as a Pastor. No doubt he spent time praying for me. Thank you Pastor Travis Lane for your investment. I would not be where I am today without you.
I came to a point in my ministry where I realized the problem was me. It wasn’t the people that left that were hurting our Church, it was me. It wasn’t an outside influence hindering our Church, it was me. It wasn’t the Church that needed to change, it was me. Once I came to this realization, God began to bless our Church once again.
On August 24, 2014, we had 27 in attendance. Since that time we have never had less than 30 in attendance. We have seen a high Sunday of 65 and have seen our low Sunday attendance climb to nearly 40 as a low. People have been saved. Others have been baptized. Visitors are common place once again.
Is it because of me that God is blessing? Absolutely NOT. God has blessed in spite of Leroy Goodman. I too would have left a Church if I had a Pastor like me, but God is doing a work in my heart and in my life that I do not have the time nor the words to explain.
I still struggle with some of the old Leroy. God is still working to mold me and make me what I need to be but I thank God for the change he made in me in 2014. By the way, remember I had made a commitment to resign at the end of the year? Well, that’s not gonna happen. It wasn’t the Church that needed to change, it was me. I am changing, I am growing, and I am STAYING!
I would like to publicly thank the members of First Missionary Baptist Church that have stood by me, prayed for me, and allowed God to make a change in me that only He could make. FMBC has a new Pastor because of your faithfulness. I love you more than words can ever describe.