Sunday marked one year of journeying towards Jesus together. Thank you for honoring me with a reception, kind words, and a new fishing rod. I will enjoy the memory every time I use the rod to hook into a big ol’ lunker or plate filler. Your words of encouragement are invaluable to me as I hold myself to high standards and big dreams, which the Devil will often use as clubs to beat my spirits. Your cards, notes, handshakes, smiles give me courage.
As awesome as those are, I am even more thankful for the last year. You all have welcomed me not just with words but with flexibility and patience. As I learn to preach every single week from the Scriptures you have been patient with my tinkering. You have let me experiment with topical preaching series and book-studies. You have been extremely patient with the length of service and the order of its components. You participate when I try out new things like a Sunday Wedding, an Easter Art Project, or a Footwashing Service. For those things I am truly thankful and perpetually humbled. I don’t take those things for granted, and due to countless conversation with colleagues, I understand just how rare a congregation we are.
I love your hunger for the Word of God, your commitment to Cleveland Community, and your hope for God to use us. I love the way you love my family and help raise my boy. It is my great dream that everyone that comes into Oakland experiences what I have experienced. Those are the things God will use to make more and better disciples of Jesus here in Cleveland.
Oakland is not about me. We, all of the members of Oakland, are the ministers of Oakland. You have a gift and a calling just as I do, and I pray that every single member of Oakland is able to do ministry somewhere. May we each continue to have the calloused hands and soft hearts that come from following Jesus.
May God grant us His vision for Oakland, and may we continue to have the courage to follow His lead. I am so excited to see where Oakland is going, and even more so, to be on this wild ride with you all. Here’s to many more.