Different Church, Same Address: A Letter to West Franklin

Different Church, Same Address: A Letter to West Franklin April 2, 2022
West Franklin Family,
I’ve heard Mike Glenn say on numerous occasions that he has pastored several different churches at the same address. He means that Brentwood Baptist has morphed into a different church multiple times during his 30 year tenure as senior pastor. Prior to coming to West Franklin, I pastored three churches. Friendship Baptist in Amite, Louisiana for almost five years. Wynne Baptist Church in Wynne, Arkansas for nearly eight years. And First Baptist Church in El Dorado, Arkansas for over two years. When I first heard Mike say what he said about pastoring different churches at the same address I knew what he meant but had never experienced it as pastor.
I think it’s beginning to happen.
At my previous stops, I did not stay long enough to experience a “new church at the same church.” Yes, I stayed a while in Wynne. But I had NO CLUE what I was doing. Don’t tell anyone in Arkansas this, but the majority of the time I was in Wynne – I didn’t know what planet I was on. Only by God’s grace and Spirit was I able to pastor there as long as I did. All of this to say, I have simply never experienced a different church at the same address.
Until now. (And don’t tell anyone else this, but I still have NO CLUE what I am doing.)
West Franklin is a new church. Same address. New church. Same location. Different congregation. Why is this the case? How are we a new church? Some things are obvious: renovated building; two additional full-time staff; two years of COVID; etc. But other things aren’t so obvious. Some have endured and have stayed since the merger in 2014. Others have moved on. Some came and then moved to another town. Some we haven’t seen or heard from since the pandemic. Some came because they found us on-line during the pandemic. Some left to find a better fit for them. Others have come because they are finding their “fit” here. Some left West Franklin for a season and have come back. In other words, West Franklin is different. Many have endured the past eight years. Many have moved on. Gratefully, many others have come and joined in on the fun.
Is it the new building?
Is it because people are moving to this area?
Is it because our podcast is absolutely killer?
Is it because people can see our parking team wearing their bright orange shirts from 8 miles away and are drawn to us like a bug to light?
It is because people are “over” COVID?
Is it because we have people – literally – from all over the United States who now gather to worship on Sunday morning?
Is it because we have – literally – every single age group represented at West Franklin?
Is it because we have – literally – a wide range of occupations represented?
Is it because almost every single school from the SEC is beloved by a variety of members?
I don’t know. But it’s different. It’s a good thing. I dare say it’s a God thing. But 700 New Highway 96 West is different. The Church at West Franklin still ascends on the same property every Sunday. But those who ascend look and feel and talk and behave and function different than the church that was here in 2014.
Why do I share this with you? Three reasons. One, for you to be aware. The Church at West Franklin is a different church at the same location. It is critical that we all acknowledge this, pay attention to this, and lean into its reality. In fact, let me encourage you to survey the room tomorrow morning. Note how many people you don’t yet know. Two, I don’t want to miss why God is doing this. I don’t want to have my head in the sand, oblivious to what is happening, wrongly assuming I am pastoring the same church from 2014. God has called me to pastor THIS West Franklin. Not the one that was. Not the one that will be. The one that is, NOW. I am called to pastor the church right in front of me. Three, I want this to send us to our knees. If it’s true that we are a different church at the same address (and it is), then it is also true God has assembled us for a purpose. I want us to seek Him together. I want us to pay attention to what He’s doing together. I want us to walk with Him during this next season, together. I don’t want to assume we know how to do church together because this church has never done church together. I also don’t want to assume we know what God is up to because of what He did years ago.
Would you pray that we would experience the presence and plan and purpose of the Father, together? As the church He has assembled now? Would you pray that we all be open to what He wants to do in and through us – for one another and for our city? And would you pray that at the end of the day, we would be a community of people who know, love, and worship God?
I CANNOT WAIT to open my Bible to John 15:1-8 AND observe the Lord’s Supper with you in the morning.
Until then. . .
Eager to Enjoy God with You,
Pastor Matt

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