I am writing on an occasion of extreme joy and deep gratitude! You are my church, my family of faith, and God can testify how I love you all. I celebrate you and sing praises to God about you. For almost seven years my family has experienced nothing short of sacrificial loving kindness from the dear people of First Baptist Church Marble Falls. Your kindness travels to such an extent that I often feel unworthy of you, and certainly embarrassed. Often, I walk into your presence with a sense of humility and thanksgiving to God. I can only hope and pray that at some point in your life someone has loved you as extravagantly as you have loved me and my family, because it is life changing. I came to be your pastor as a different person than I am now. We have grown together and been through quite a lot.
Through the years, we have established a unique pastor-church relationship. You know as well as I do that it is unique and unfortunately so, because we wish more churches and pastors could have what we have. I have no desire to get anything from you, manipulate you, or build my kingdom through your labor. I am your humble servant. At the same time, you have no desire to abuse me, neglect me, or stop listening to my teaching. You have humbled yourself to hear my words. In this mutual effort of grace and love, we have become deep friends rather than enemies. It is not a picture of people (vs) pastor, a wretched fight of wills. Rather, we have found the result of this labor of love a spiritually, mentally, and emotionally healthy church.
I sincerely desire for you to know that through my studies and research, you and my wife have held me up. I suppose you did so mostly because you loved me, but hopefully you also believed in what I was doing and its benefit to the kingdom of God. Thus, you were a part of something much bigger than you imagined. As I reflect on finishing a six-year Doctorate of Ministry (DMin) from Baylor University’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary, I say without hesitation that you were my motivation. God called me to be a preacher, a pastor of a local church. Now, within that calling there was another calling: to be trained, equipped, sharpened, broken, and a hundred other things, so that I could be what God called me to be for his church, for you. I wanted to be able to “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), not so that I could win arguments or become conceited in biblical knowledge, but so that I could faithfully teach and preach to you. I believe difficult times are ahead for the church of Jesus Christ. Therefore, I felt called by God to study diligently and sharpen my spirit, mind, and emotions so that as those challenges ensue, I will be able to lead the church forward effectively and faithfully. In fact, when my race is run, I hope that people can simply say, “He was faithful.” I don’t have to be a pastor of a big church, or to be a published author, or even to be known and respected. I want to be faithful to you, to my family, and my sovereign God.
My research was in evangelism. The title of my dissertation is, “Excited to Share, Energizing a Process of Evangelism through Evangelism Sodalities.” I know it’s a long silly title; you don’t have to tell me. I’ve studied the nature and practice of evangelism throughout the 2,000 year history of the church, and I believe I now have a small contribution to make to the discussion, practice, and study of evangelism because I have truly labored to understand it. I hope that I have earned some right to be heard at the table of discussion on how the church of God can evangelize those who have not heard or responded to the gospel. So, thank you my beloved church family for supporting such an effort. And may our God bless you for your contribution to this study and for your loving kindness to your pastor Ross, and his wife Meaghen, and their girls, Hannah and Tess. May you live forever with the Lord almighty as your Savior and song.