I wish I could say that every decision that I have made as a pastor has been the right decision, but I can’t. I wish I could say that I have never regretted a decision I have made, but I can’t. The truth is I have made many wrong decisions. The truth is I have made decisions that have hurt the Church. That is why this latest decision has been almost three years in the making.
For nearly a year, no one knew the thoughts that were crossing my mind. I spent many hours in my private prayer time seeking the will of God. After countless hours of prayer and many sleepless nights, I began to seek counsel from other Pastors that I trusted.
What are you thinking? Why would you do such a thing? Is this part of a larger agenda? Does this signify a change in your doctrine? Is this really what God wants or is this what Leroy wants? Why haven’t you done this earlier? These are just few of the questions that I was asked.
Men of God that I greatly admire and trust seemed to have differing opinions as to what I should do. It seemed that there were just as many on both sides of the decision. I sought counsel and while I had hoped their advise would make the decision easier, it only made the decision that much more difficult.
In the late spring of 2014, our Church began the process of rewriting our Constitution and By-laws. Was this the right time? Should I bring it up or should I just forget it? What should I do? By the time the rewriting process was finished, I had decided to once again put off the issue.
Nearly three years have passed and I am no closer to a decision, but one thing is clear. I can’t keep putting off making a decision any longer. At a Ministry Team meeting last month, out of the blue it pops out. “I think we need to change our Church name.” Did I really just say that? I can’t take it back now, the decision I have been wrestling with is now the most public that it has ever been.
Our Church Deacon responded with “present it to the Church and see what they think”. I’ll be honest, this was not quite the response I was expecting. What I was expecting is “Pastor, I think you and I need to talk.”
I spent the next few days praying and for the first time I had peace. I had peace that this decision may indeed be the will of God and not the will of Leroy. So after nearly three years of prayer, I informed the Church that I felt led by the Lord to change the name of our Church. I asked the Church to spend the remainder of November praying about it and we would formally consider the proposal on December 2.
The night finally arrived. Just as I was starting the Wednesday Bible Study, the computer program decided to act up totally throwing my lesson off. Then the microphone started popping. I was extremely nervous about what was coming. Was the rocky flow of the service an indication that turbulence was ahead? I had a hard time concentrating on the lesson, which isn’t good since I am the one preaching.
Business meeting began, various topics were discussed, and now it was time for the “big decision”. The proposal was made, members spoke in support and opposition of the decision, and then the vote was taken. Ninety-two percent of those in attendance voted to change the name of our Church. What began as the First Baptist Church of St Helens and later became the First Missionary Baptist Church of St Helens, was now St Helens Baptist Church.
As I write this, I must admit that there is a part of me that asks “is this the right decision? Have I made another decision that will hurt the Church or will this decision be one that moves our Church in the right direction?” I wish I knew the answer to these questions. The coming days, weeks, and months will tell the tale, but one thing I know for sure: there is not a single decision that I have made as a pastor that received as much prayer and counsel as this one.
Now to answer one final question: “what is the purpose of this post? Is this post really about a new name?” No this post really isn’t about a new name. This decision was made by the membership of St Helens Baptist Church and there is no need to offer a public explanation behind why we did what we did.
The real purpose of this post is to remind the readers that so often we have the perception that Pastoring consists of preaching three messages a week, checking on the sick, and preaching funerals. The reality is your Pastor may have spent more time praying over a single decision than he has over any message he has ever preached. Pastors understand that every decision they make will have an effect on the Church and quite often, the effect is not positive.
So when you pray that God will help your Pastor as he prepares for the message, don’t forget to pray for him as he is seeking God’s will regarding the future of the Church. Pray that God will give him peace when the decision is according to the will of God and that God will make it abundantly clear when it is not the will of God.