Five years ago, Albert Lee, the Lead Pastor from Regeneration Church, in Oakland, met me for breakfast at the Oakland Grill in Jack London Square. He was the first pastor that I had the chance to meet in person from Oakland. He greeted me with kindness, he told me his story of how he became a pastor in Oakland, he answered my questions about pastoring in the city of Oakland, and he even paid for my meal. I couldn't have experienced a better welcome.
I remember leaving that meal, thinking to myself, Pastor Albert is a good dude. Pastor Albert wants to see me succeed. He is a guy who I could call if I ever needed anything. When it comes to me successfully planting a church in Oakland, Pastor Albert is an ally.
FLASH FORWARD FIVE YEARS LATER.
Today, Tyler Hagan, the Lead Pastor of Anthem Church - a new church plant in Oakland (January 2019), met me for breakfast at the Oakland Grill in Jack London Square. I was the first pastor that he has had the chance to meet in person from Oakland. I did my best to greet him with kindness, I told him my story about how I became a pastor in Oakland, I did my best to answer his questions about pastoring in the city of Oakland, and, following Pastor Albert's cue - I paid for his meal. I'm not entirely sure how well I did, but my hope is that he felt welcomed.
Though I do not know exactly how Tyler felt after we left our time together this morning, here's what I felt:
- Overjoyed. Overjoyed by the opportunity to attempt to be for Tyler what Albert was for me. Overjoyed by the fact that it has been over five years since I've been pastoring in the city of Oakland. Overjoyed by God's goodness in calling a gifted, passionate, and spirit-filled man like Tyler to plant a church that desires to "connect a beautiful city with a loving Savior."
- Expectant. Expectant that God's Kingdom will come and God's will will be done in Oakland as it is in heaven! Expectant that the 4 new church planters coming to Oakland (all of whom I've had the privilege of speaking to within the last 30 days) are going to be a great gift and blessing to Oakland. Expectant that, one day, Oakland is going to be known for having an abundance of healthy, gospel-proclaiming churches who seek the renewal and shalom of the city.
- Responsible. Responsible for welcoming and encouraging church planters in Oakland just as Pastor Albert welcomed and encouraged me. Responsible for connecting the new church planters in Oakland with each other. Responsible for continuing to create a culture where church planters in Oakland are for each other and for each other's churches because we are all for the Kingdom of God being advanced in the city of Oakland.
Today was a day that I pray I will remember for a long time. Not only because a particular moment came full circle, but more importantly, because today was a day that God called me to something deeper. He called me to something more.
Though I don't want to get too ahead of myself, though I don't want to put more on my plate than already is there, and though I'm not going to start making strategic plans and crafting vision statements - I must acknowledge what God has placed on my heart. From this day forward, I'm not only to be passionate about my church thriving in the city of Oakland, but I am to be more passionate and more committed to The Church thriving in the city of Oakland. What this looks like exactly, I do now know, but what I do know is this - the responsibility can't be ignored.