August 6, 2018
Erin and I are planting a church on the Southside of Chattanooga. This idea was brought to me by the Tennessee Valley Presbytery MNA committee in the spring, a group of people hoping to plant around nine new churches in the Chattanooga area in the coming years.
It still seems surreal.
Apparently, my name came up as someone who might be able to plant on the Southside. I didn’t think much of it, and I honestly believed that LMPC would not want that at this time, and that too much stood in the way of it happening.
But when I first broached the topic with Brian, he said, “Of course you can do this, and if you do it, we are with you.” Frank and Joe have responded in the exact same manner. I expected Erin, with twin infants at home, to say, “Are you crazy?” Instead she said, “It makes me nervous, but I think we have to follow Jesus where he calls us.”
I’m still in awe of the generosity of Brian, Frank, and Joe. In some ways, the timing is not “ideal.” We are in the middle of a pastoral transition, and we are trying to figure out next steps for handling the growth at LMPC.
There’s also a possible perception that “Jared just doesn’t want to be there” because Joe is transitioning out of his senior teaching pastor role soon. Nothing could be further from the truth.
One week before I met with MNA, I told a friend that I am in the most fulfilling season of ministry in my career. I’m on an outstanding staff, preach every other week, build relationships, and walk alongside our people. And instead of our leaders worrying about timing, church size dynamics, or perception, they responded to this next step with generosity. Good will and security, rather than discontent and restlessness, form the starting point for me to follow this new calling.
To top it off, during our annual missions conference in March this year, my heart was burning in my chest as one of the preachers urged us to “go.” As he wept for our church to be a sending church, it felt clear that God was stirring something deep within me.
I confess that the external call has felt clearer than the internal call has. My heart still wages war over questions like: “Is this the right time? Do I have what it takes? Who is crazy enough to leave a job at LMPC? Will anyone show up?” But I quiet my mind with Psalm 20:7, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”
We are praying, and we’d ask you to join us. All the pieces are not together yet, but we will continue to share with you as things come together. Pray that God would lead us. Pray that we would declare bankruptcy before him and follow where he calls us. Pray that God would be extraordinarily kind to my tired, young family. Pray for us.