For the past four years, I have had the tremendous joy of serving as Grace Presbyterian Church’s youth and college director. As my wife and I move on to where the Lord is leading us, I wanted to share ten blessings in no particular order I’ve experienced over these past four years.
1- I’ve experienced the blessing of hearing the Word of God preached faithfully from the pulpit from a pastor whose heart is for God to be glorified. Week in and week out, Dr. Dick Davies has labored over the Bible verse by verse. For a young minister, this was a great model and example for me. I never walked away thinking, “He played fast and loose with that verse.” I walked away knowing and thinking and believing the pastor possessed a profound admiration, respect, and reverence for the Word of God. If I ever become a pastor, I want to be like Pastor Davies.
2- I’ve experienced the blessing of a Church committed to fellowshipping often and consistently together. The highlights of my week have always been Sundays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays wherein we met together for dinner, bible study, small group, or prayer. After four years, I feel as though my church knows me and I know them because there was a profound willingness to share life together. I have always enjoyed the crawfish boils, the meals, the BBQs, the Mardi Gras parades, the firework shows, the small group dinners out on the town, and the concerts together. Grace Presbyterian Church isn’t just a group of fellow believers for me and my wife. They were our family.
3- I’ve experienced the blessing of seeing students learn to love God and navigate the Christian life. My students have been and will continue to be my joy and crown in the Lord (Phil. 4:1; 1 Thess. 2:19). My life will forever be changed because I got to see God work in the lives of so many students. I witnessed him change them through the Word of God and prayer. For four years, their joys and their sorrows were my joys and my sorrows. They will always have a special place in my heart as my children and I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth (3 John 1:4). I’m so humbled to have been used by God in their lives. I’m unworthy of it. It is all grace from start to finish.
4- I’ve experienced the blessing of watching the whole Church do all the work of serving the body. Typically, it is said that 10 percent of the Church does 100% of the work around the Church. This was not the case at Grace Presbyterian Church. Each person serves each other where there is a need without having to be asked. When someone moves, a host of young and older men are present to serve. If someone is sick, there’s a litany of ladies baking and cooking meals for the week. If there is a need, someone steps up and meets that need.
5-I’ve experienced the blessing of having the Church love each other well. In the four years I was present at Grace, there was peace. There was Gospel-centered, Christ-exalting love for the brothers that was so strong that it prevented a host of problems that plague other churches within our city. This is God’s grace to the Church. Every time I was within the walls of Grace, I felt loved. Each week I was guaranteed that at some point, my elder was going to come and find me just to hug me and tell me that he loved me. This grounded me through many difficult times. As a young man who grew up without a father, this transformed me in a thousand incremental ways. Grace Presbyterian Church is a church that loves each other well.
6- I’ve experienced the blessing of having Christian marriages lived out in front of me. I’ve heard so many young men and women lament the state of marriage at seminary. How are we to do it well without the examples of others? At Grace, there are so many strong Christian marriages—both young and old. They are a body that takes the Word so serious that they joyfully live out the Gospel within their marriage relationships.
7- I’ve experienced the blessing of serving under a pastor who might be the most evangelistic man I’ve met in Metairie. Regardless of where pastor goes, he is going to invite someone to Church and talk about the Lord. Presbyterians get a bad reputation sometimes as the “frozen chosen.” The Gospel thawed that man out years ago and he has never gotten over it. Lord, make me as evangelistic as he is!
8-I’ve experienced the blessing of loving disagreement and debate within the body. Not the split-the-church-in-two kind of disagreement. Some of my fondest conversations that stretched me the most were spent in our book club, over a text conversation with my elder, or in small group discussing an issue. No matter what, there was always a “We are brothers in the Lord, welcome to the table” attitude even in our disagreements. I grew so much in my faith through these conversations on important topics like baptism, the millennium, and spiritual gifts.
9-I’ve experienced the blessing of a worship service that was participation-based and not spectator-based. At Grace Presbyterian Church on Sunday mornings, you audibly repeat the Word of God to your brothers and sisters, you recite a historic creed of the Church that Christians have committed themselves to for hundreds of years, you sing weighty, Gospel heralding hymns, you pray together, and you rise in reverence before you hear the Word of God spoken as the sermon begins. At every point, I was a participant and not a spectator. I was a part of the worship of God because the service is arranged that way. I never noticed how transformative liturgy was until I came to Grace.
10- I’ve experienced the blessing of parents seriously committed to raising their children in the Lord. For the past four years, my wife and I have not ministered to the youth as lone rangers. We have always told the youth that we are on their team but also their parents’ teams. Why? Their parents are in fact on their team. The parents at Grace truly desire that their children walk in obedience to the Lord. They disciple and train their children because they believe the revolutionary idea that they are stewards. Their students belong to the Lord and he has called them to faithfully lead them in the way they should go.
My heart’s greatest desire is to remember. Frederick Buechner writes, “When you remember me, it means that you have carried something of who I am with you, that I have left some mark of who I am on who you are. It means that you can summon me back to your mind even though countless years and miles may stand between us. It means that if we meet again, you will know me. It means that even after I die, you can still see my face and hear my voice and speak to me in your heart.” I want to always remember these blessings I’ve experienced at Grace Presbyterian Church. I will remember the people there because they are a part of me. Even though we are leaving, we remain with them and them with us.