It Takes a Church

Recently, at a dinner for RTS graduates, we were all asked to share reflections on our time in seminary. I had nothing to say. There were a couple factors at work, one being that I was the first person to go. But part of it was that I honestly hadn’t taken any time to reflect on my time in seminary. Seminary is often a whirlwind of books, papers, people, jobs, and internships. We are encouraged to think deeply about God’s word and our own lives, but rarely is there time to think about the experience of seminary itself. And seminary truly is a special time. You get to spend the majority of your time studying the Bible and learning about who God is and what He has done to redeem us. You’re surrounded by future pastors who are all seeking the same thing: to grow as pastors in order to build God’s kingdom. But the best thing about it all is the unique and exciting relationship you have with the church. And no church takes better care of their interns than Uptown. Even though we’re only here for 3-4 years, you claim us and love us as your own. It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a church to raise an intern.

When Becca and I moved to Charlotte, we decided pretty quickly that Uptown was the church for us. We knew that the teaching would be biblical, we quickly felt welcomed, and it seemed like a place where I would be equipped to be a pastor. We have not been disappointed. Over the last three years, there have been lots of up’s and down’s, but through them all, Becca and I have been loved, we have been fed (in more ways than one), and we have grown. And we have all of you to thank for that.

 

Thank You’s and Highlights

Encouraging Community

Uptown has been a very encouraging place. Not a single teaching opportunity has gone by where someone didn’t have something encouraging to say (even when I felt like I’d blown it). Through your encouragement I have grown tremendously in my comfort with teaching, preaching, and just generally speaking in front of people. You have also all been very encouraging in the less glamorous aspects of my internship. The reality is that most of what I have done over the last two years has been behind the scenes, but I cannot count the number of times when I have had someone come up and thank me for the ways I serve the church. And inevitably, their expression of thanks was often followed by, “I imagine that you have a pretty thankless internship.” At another church, this might be true; the things I did each week might go unnoticed and unappreciated, but not at Uptown. So thank you for noticing. Not once have I been tempted to cut corners out of bitterness that no one notices my work, and that is thanks to you all.

The Tom’s

I also want to thank the Tom’s. Tom Hawkes: thank you for being a wonderful mentor and for feeding us with God’s word every Sunday. I know that I will be a better pastor, husband, father, and Christian because I had you as my mentor. Tom Queen: thank you for caring for Becca and me as our shepherding elder and for always making us laugh and think in your Sunday school classes. Tom (and Mandy!) Price: thank you for hosting and leading our Life Group. We have learned so much by watching you faithfully serve this group of people over the last three years. And thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve alongside you this year.

Life Group

Nothing at Uptown has been a blessing the way that our Life Group has been. Whether it was Simon Blank dislocating his shoulder in our very first social, THE fanny pack, learning to get off our donkeys, or learning to Behold Our God, Life Group has always been a place to laugh and learn and love. There were few moments each week better than gathering with the men in the Price’s front room to pray together.

The Nursery

That’s right! The nursery! Do we have kids? Nope (not until July!) In the first months that Becca and I were at Uptown, she signed me up for some future-dad training by volunteering in the nursery. We met so many people as we served in the nursery. We met people as we served alongside them, taking care of the church’s children, and we met people as they picked up and dropped off their children. We got to know Chris Vaughn, Lisa Ellis, and Rebecca Latham, who have done and do an amazing job serving Uptown’s smallest. We got to know the kids as well. Each week was an exhausting hour of fun. If you’re not helping in the nursery (or the children’s ministry or both), you should. It can be a sacrifice, but it is a sacrifice worth making.

 

There are more people at Uptown than I can count that I feel the need to thank, so here’s a few more: Dave and Dave, for being great mentor group leaders; Ann, Julie, and Rebecca, for the wisdom and ministry experience you’ve shared with Becca; Curtis, for poached eggs and listening to me talk about Genesis; and Jeremy, for being a listening ear and encouraging voice.

As we look towards the coming years and the ministry that awaits us, Becca and I know that our work for the kingdom will be profoundly shaped by our time at Uptown. Once again, I could spend pages and pages expounding on the little nuggets of wisdom that we will take away, but if there is one thing that sticks out above the rest it’s this: No one does it alone. The church is a body where believers support one another by serving, encouraging, and challenging each other. As we step into our next stage of ministry, I am excited about the people that I will get to work alongside, people who will challenge me to be the best servant of Christ that I can be and people who will bring something unique to the church because they are gifted in ways that I am not. Ministry is always a group effort, and just as a whole church has poured into us, we hope to create a church environment where a whole church is pouring into one another. Thank you for setting that example.

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