Paul begins his letter to the Philippians with the prayer, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” - Phil 1:3-6
As I close out this season of ministry as Sr. Pastor at Community Church, these same words carry great significance. I truly do thank God for Community Presbyterian Church and do so with much joy! What has made it so joyful? Of course, I must mention the phenomenal staff I’ve been able to work with … as youth director, Associate Pastor, and Sr. Pastor. My fellow staff over the years has been and is nothing short of amazing. They’ve been so much more than co-workers … they’ve been friends. They’ve made coming to the office a time of fellowship, joy, and encouragement rather than a time of drudgery. The officers, elders and deacons, at CPC have been and are truly amazing, always finding a way to work together for the peace and purity of the church. These guys have relentlessly sought to serve this congregation in the best possible way and point the congregation to Jesus. I’ve seen them willingly take blame and criticism for things that were not even remotely their fault, but because of their love for the church they never wavered in their desire to protect the dignity and reputation of others. And the entire congregation, every member and visitor, has been and still today is this beautiful picture of God’s amazing grace. Community has been so much more than just another church down the street, more than just the Presbyterian option among the churches in Moody. Community is a family of those who have tasted God’s saving grace and who have cared for one another in powerful ways in the midst of life’s pleasures, pains, successes, disappointments, joys, sorrows, ups, downs, and everything in between. Community is the family who has cared for me for over half my life and watched me grow up. Community is the family who has patiently allowed me to fail in my various leadership roles yet has never condemned or rejected me. Community is the family who has celebrated birth and grieved over the death of Boykin children. Community is the family who helped Anita and me raise our children. Community is the family who has showered the Boykin family with love and care since 1986. All this, and much more, is part of why I pray with joy when I give God thanks for CPC.
But there’s another reason, perhaps even more significant, and it’s also part of Paul’s prayer for the Philippians. It’s “your partnership in the gospel” that is the most important thing on the list of things for which to be thankful and joyous about. Community has been and is all about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. CPC, by God’s grace, hasn’t been focused on itself or any particular agenda other than the Gospel. And brothers and sisters, that’s pretty rare when it comes to churches! So many are self-promoting, focused on themselves, seeking to advance a particular social or some other agenda, obsessed with personal preferences, and seeking to please man rather than God. I’m not saying that CPC hasn’t struggled with any of that, but I am saying with great confidence that CPC first and foremost desires the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be her fundamental identity and message. And it is such a joy to be in partnership for this simple reason … to advance the Gospel.
And the great part is that it’s not nearly over! Even though I’ll not be serving as Sr. Pastor I’ll be around and will continue to be in partnership with you in the Gospel. This ministry of Evangelize Today that I’m involved in is not in any way designed to be my little personal project. Rather, it’s a ministry that will, by God’s grace, continue to advance our partnership in the Gospel as I seek to help this congregation and others get more interested and involved in the work of evangelism.
So I trust you’re looking forward to this next chapter of our partnership … I know I am.