A Message to Members
Last weekend, Pastor Ian & Pastor Eugene shared a special pastoral announcement. The congregation is invited to attend a follow-up special members' meeting at 2pm on 7 March 2021 on Zoom.
I am a pastor at GBC largely because of Ian. He was instrumental in God’s call to me to serve you here. I love this brother! He is a spiritual mentor to me. I’ve learnt a lot about life and ministry from him. Ian and Sherri are very dear to me and Claire. They have been a source of encouragement and wisdom for us, ever since we got to know them more than 10 years ago.
Scripture calls us to honour those who sacrificially serve God’s people. Ian and Sherri have been a tremendous blessing to us. They have poured themselves out for the good of this local church. Over the past few years, Ian has done a lot of heavy lifting, helping the church and the elders to get stronger. Ian has pastored well, with self-sacrificial love and humility. I’m grateful for how he has laboured so faithfully to raise up a team of elders, giving us an example of what it means to shepherd God’s flock.
One of the reasons why we want to tell the church earlier about the Buntains’ departure is to give us opportunity to honour and show our appreciation for them. We may also need time to process the news. Some of us may be surprised and saddened. We may also be concerned about the impact this will have on the church. Be assured that God remains good and faithful. He is still with us to help us. Ian and Sherri have done much to strengthen GBC. We can continue to build on the fruit of their labours.
In the meantime, let’s encourage Ian and Sherri and thank them for their faithful labour among us. Do speak to them or with any of the elders, if you have any questions. Let’s also love and care well for Ian and Sherri, as they prepare for a new season of life and ministry. Do continue to pray for them, as they seek the Lord’s guidance and direction. And pray also for GBC, that we will remain faithful and dependent on God, who graciously provides for His church.
Before I share this letter, I want to acknowledge that this will cause some of you some pain… and I am so sorry for that. I hope you know that it is never a pastor’s intention to cause harm to the Lord’s flock. Again, I am so very sorry.
On January 31, after several weeks of prayer and conversation with trusted men, I wrote our Directors announcing the intention to end my service with GBC on May 2, 2021. This decision has been the most difficult decision Sherri and I have ever had to face as a couple, just simply, because we love you.
I have been so very grateful for the humbling privilege of serving the Lord through you, and I continue to give Him all glory for the growth and change He has brought to us. Serving with such gifted and godly pastors and elders has indeed been a rare and special honour for me. Honestly, our elders represent my best ambition for you, and I am confident that with God’s favour, they will faithfully guide God’s gathered church to a great future.
During these past few years I have been overjoyed to see God’s clear anointing on my brother Eugene. As you may have heard me say in the past, I did not pursue him because I thought he would make me a better lead pastor. I pursued him because I believed he could be my lead pastor. Additionally, God has raised up many new Elders, who are passionate about God’s Word and stewarding the gospel in the lives of His people. And the amazing thing? God is continuing to call out others, some of whom are preparing themselves for fulltime ministry. God has been so very gracious to us.
Although this pulpit has been the main voice promoting the ethos for our church, much of what we do as a ministry team is fleshed out in weekly conversations with staff and elders as the Truth of Scripture collides with our structural, congregational, and cultural realities. And because of this, our gospel ambitions, under the leadership of Christ, will continue to be energised by this team that God has gathered, affirmed and put in place through you, the church body. And my hope is, that we will continue to give God glory for all He has done and continues to do.
As we heard from our Directors in December of last year, it is prudent to exercise budgetary constraint during this COVID season, and as Sherri and I began to pray about this we began to sense God’s liberty to step aside so others can step in. There are younger, more focused and gifted men considering full time ministry. They will be culturally fluent and have the kind of energy I used to have. So this is a glorious moment in the history of GBC, and it is not a time for less focus and energy, but for more. And I want to be clear. Neither Pastor Eugene nor any of the other elders has asked for this. It is, however, my desire to afford them greater freedom and resources to build the right team as men are called to serve.
Additionally, there continues to be a tug on my life to return to my call to missions. Missions has been my primary call since I was eight years old. This call has not changed but was redirected in you and investing in the next generation of national leaders here at GBC. Now however, we sense the Lord directing our call outward again; and it seems to me the Lord is saying that it is time to take this next step. It is possible that God has yet a few other things for Sherri and I to do and we want to be faithful to explore that.
So with this summary, I hope you will understand why it feels right for this decision at this time. Sherri and I want to finish well, so pray with us that as I step out, that this decision will not jeopardise all of the amazing potential of the Lord’s church. God has given us assurance that we are not leaving you without His ongoing and sufficient provision. He is loving His church well and will continue to do so.
There will be opportunity for questions and answers in coming days but for now, please know of our love for each of you, and our love for this church. We pray God will use this experience to increase our radical dependence on His provision, and we trust that He will continue to strengthen and build up His body through Christ and His Word, for His Glory!
At 1.30pm this Saturday (6 Mar), there will be a town hall for the upcoming Annual General Meeting. It will be held over Zoom.
On Sunday, we’ll be hearing from Luke 21:5-38 on how we are to live in light of Jesus’ return. We are to live with prayerful endurance, faithful witness and hopeful watchfulness. May God open our hearts to His word!
There will also be a special members’ meeting on Sunday at 2pm. We will have an opportunity to hear more from the Buntains. This will take place via Zoom: http://gracebaptistchurch.sg/members-meeting (Meeting ID: 812 0530 0979 / Passcode: 949163)