I believe in the importance and power of prayer. Prayer is indeed powerful, because of the powerful God we pray to. I believe in corporate prayer. There is real value in God’s people coordinating and collectively agreeing in prayer for the common needs and goals of the local body of Christ. (Acts 1:14, Ephesians 6:18, Joel 1:14)
I want to take the advice of a congregant today and share my prayer concerns for Eastwood Baptist Church and myself as the new Senior Pastor. The book of James instructs us to “pray for one another”. Galatians encourages us to “bear one another’s burdens”. I share these concerns with transparency, vulnerability, and in obedience to the Word of God.
While today I am only led to share some specific requests and concerns, it does not at all mean that there aren’t doubly more praises to be shared as well. I am so thankful for God’s leading to Eastwood Baptist Church. My family believes and trusts God’s leading to make this move and we are also excited for what is ahead. We are so eternally grateful for all those in the Eastwood body who have offered gracious support, encouragement, and welcome to us in these first two months. Eastwood is a place we have already discovered that is filled with friendliness, excitement, and Godly people. What a blessing!
As I am looking, listening, learning, and leading in my first 90 days still, I am excited for the potential of the Lord’s church at Eastwood, but I am also deeply burdened.
I ask for you to join me in prayer in several key areas:
1. CHURCH DRAMA
All churches have drama and I am not talking about the kinds for theater or skits. I am talking about trouble, distraction, unhealthiness, and consternation. It is a sad reality that has existed even from the church in the first century. As I have just gotten on the ground and settled in for my first two months, I would say that I have discovered a bit more drama than I expected and higher levels than I have seen upon arriving at any other church in ministry over the past 25 years. I believe the distraction, consternation, and trouble have also only been compounded by unhelpful and unbiblical patterns of communication. It has undoubtedly produced ripple effects on staff relationships, leadership, and day-to-day ministry effectiveness at Eastwood. While I was not here to create this current drama and troubles, I do believe God is sovereign and has brought me here to help sort it out for His glory.
- For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. – Galatians 5:13-15
MY PRAYER REQUEST: There are days when I feel this is unfair or more aptly unfortunate. Days when I feel as though I opened my office door on the first day on the job and discovered bags of garbage that I did not create. Someone has to take it out. It stinks and I hope that the stink from that garbage does not rub off on me. I am praying that God uses me to bring solutions, peace, unity, and progress … and yet … at the same time … I am unbelievably burdened. Trying to navigate these issues has consumed large amounts of time, energy, … time that I would have loved to have directed to other important areas (preaching, vision casting) in my first months. I feel that my normal duties as a new Pastor have been paused to work on cleaning up and progressing these issues. I trust this is God’s plan, even when it does not make sense to me or seem fair.
Would you join me in praying for God to continue to grant me wisdom on how to proceed, strength to not quit, and courage to be obedient to His leading?
Would you pray for my family? We are still new to the area and the church. I am trying to navigate a new church and the aforementioned issues, while also trying to be a present, attentive, and biblical father, husband, and disciple at the same time. Transitions are hard enough. There are many days when I feel lonely, doubtful, and deeply troubled. I am praying for comfort and rest.
Would you pray that God would bring peace, unity, and togetherness to Eastwood? I am praying that God would stifle the work of the enemy, and that unbiblical communication and division would cease. I pray that we would put distractions behind us. I pray that we would overlook offenses, forgive and that God would use Eastwood in the days ahead to focus on fulfilling the Great Commission to reach our community with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
2. ORGANIZATIONAL HEALTH
I am also noticing in my first 90 days a need to improve, strengthen, and/or repair our organizational health. There are many policies, procedures, charters, staff guidelines, that are either inadequate, out of date, confusing, or missing altogether. These organizational guidelines and infrastructure are incredibly helpful in quelling drama and distraction in the church. When they are missing or broken, it threatens safety and confuses.
In almost all areas of our organizational leadership, we need to clarify and strengthen our organizational governing documents, communicate them effectively to the body, implement, and follow them consistently. We need to raise the bar and standards in this area. In many ways, I feel as though Eastwood is like a three-story house that was built on a one-story foundation. We need to shore up and support our organizational foundation before we get too heavy and topple over.
MY PRAYER REQUEST: Would you join me in praying that God will help me know which areas need to be addressed first? Pray that God would give our leadership urgency to bolster these inadequacies and use the process to strengthen the church for the future.
Eastwood Baptist Church needs resources to accomplish the work of ministry. We need human, financial, and spiritual resources to fulfill the mission, the Great Commission given to us by our Lord Jesus Christ. These are tough times financially. Unprecedented in the last 45 years. Record inflation, borderline recession, increasing cost of living. Things are tighter for certain.
When I arrived on the ground at the beginning of April, the first quarter of the fiscal year was already under Eastwood’s belt. The church was and is not meeting the budget. If this trend continues, the church will have to make some tougher decisions about altering how we accomplish ministry for the foreseeable future.
- Eastwood is behind budget by $70,337.13. – If this trend continues, we will end the year nearly $168,000 behind. We will likely need adjustments now to compensate for this lag.
- Good News – Giving has increased by 3.5% in the past couple of months since the arrival of the new Senior Pastor.
- Good News & Bad News – Good news is we have currently collected more than we have spent by $22,813.60. The bad news is that these savings in spending have been due to a lack of having a Senior Pastor and Children’s Minister. These savings in expenses will continually dissipate moving ahead.
MY PRAYER REQUEST: I pray that God would remind His church of the importance of giving in all of our time, treasure, and talent. I pray that God would remind us that when we give of ourselves and our finances, we are giving to the mission and work of Christ in the world, but more importantly you are giving as an act of worship to the sovereign creator of the universe. That is who you are giving for and giving to!
I pray that God would give me, our leadership, and church wisdom to know when and what alterations need to be made in the days ahead for His church.
I pray for those in the church and world that are struggling financially. I pray that God would bless and make a way in these tough tighter times.
4. VISION FOR EASTWOOD
If you were to have asked me the week before I arrived at Eastwood two months ago, I would have told you that I anticipated spending a good bit of time in these first weeks and months talking about vision, and casting a plan for how we discover that together as a staff, leadership, and church. As I arrived and began to observe and discover the things that I have shared, I realized that we have “bigger fish to fry” as the saying goes. Do not misunderstand me, the vision for Eastwood in this new season is important, but some things have needed more attention in these first weeks.
I plan to use the back half of the summer for vision-casting. I am going to put together a packet and resource guide for our church to collectively pray, fast, study, and contribute to the process of helping me discover the vision God has for Eastwood in the near future. It is going to be an exciting time! Be on the lookout for this in July. This will culminate with VISION SUNDAY in early September. We will set our vision course and begin the exciting work of accomplishing the ministry ahead of us.
We will pray, fast, answer, and discover …
- MISSION – We will remind ourselves of the Great Commission that Jesus has already given His church.
- VISION – What is God specifically calling us to do now in this season to accomplish this mission and Great Commission?
- VALUES – What are the motivating factors that will fuel us to accomplish the vision?
- MEASURES – How can we measure our effectiveness corporately and individually?
MY PRAYER REQUEST: I pray that even now before our time of prayer and fasting, God will begin to stir excitement for this new season of vision and ministry at Eastwood. I pray that we will own it, go all in, and see God do God-sized things through us in our community for His glory.
I am thankful for you all. I appreciate your cooperation in these prayer matters. I trust the Lord and already thank Him now in advance for what He has in store for His church at Eastwood. Romans 8:28 assures us that “good” is ahead. We only have to faithfully trust and faithfully be patient.
I love you.
Pastor Brad Kirby