AN OPEN LETTER FROM PASTOR ZACH
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
As we continue to walk through this valley together, and grieve the separation of other brothers and sisters from our congregation, I want you to know that I remain committed to our mission: To glorify God by making disciples—Committed followers of Jesus. As you know, God led me through a season last year wherein He reaffirmed that this is precisely the place where He wants our family to be and that pastoring Haven Baptist Church is precisely what He wants me to be doing. In spite of the challenges of the past few weeks, please know that I remain committed to that calling.
While it saddens me and breaks my heart to see people leave, I will continue to pastor the ones that stay, and by God’s grace, we will continue to reach into this community with the life-changing power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. While I can’t see the future, and I don’t know what tomorrow holds, I know who holds tomorrow. Therefore, you can expect that I will stand up each Sunday and continue proclaiming the unsearchable riches of Christ from God’s Word. In Matthew 16, Jesus declared that He was building His church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. Here’s what I know: As we continue to proclaim the good news, more people will be saved, more people will be baptized and discipled, and this church will continue, for it is not built on one person or one family, this church is built on Jesus Christ and He is a firm foundation. As I heard a pastor friend say recently: “This is God’s church and He is doing a great job with it!”. I hope that you will believe that truth with me and join me as we continue on mission into 2023!
I do need to issue this brief word of warning—don’t believe everything you hear. People have come to me to tell me that stories are swirling around our congregation right now. Proverbs 26:20 warns of the “talebearer”—the “whisperer” who loves to go around sharing stories, whether they are true or not. A talebearer is not interested in putting the fires of contention out, they’re looking to keep them burning: “Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.”. How do we address a talebearer? I want you to consider that you have two metaphorical buckets in your hand—one has water in it, the other has gasoline in it. Your response to the talebearer will determine if these fires are being put out, or if they continue to burn. If someone comes to you to talk about someone else, a firefighter says “let’s go talk to that person about this together to resolve this matter.”; an arsonist listens passively and/or actively affirms the content of the talebearer and the fires of contention continue to burn.
Hear me out:
God is not pleased by enduring contention.
Let me share some Scriptural admonitions concerning strife and division:
“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.” (Romans 16:17)
“These six things doth the LORD hate:
yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
A proud look, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations,
feet that be swift in running to mischief,
A false witness that speaketh lies,
and he that soweth discord among brethren.”
“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” (1 Corinthians 1:10)
“Only by pride cometh contention:
but with the well advised is wisdom.”
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
Let me speak to you from my heart—I don’t want to see anyone leave our church. That being said, I do want you to know that there is a right way and a wrong way to leave a gospel-preaching church. If, at the end of the day, we can’t agree or agree to disagree, then you should leave peaceably, without feeling a need to destroy those who choose to stay. I implore you to recognize that we are a church that affirms orthodox doctrine and preaches the true gospel of Jesus Christ! Do you really want to destroy the Bride of Christ over secondary matters? You would do well to reconsider. I will allow you to leave peaceably. As the pastor of this church, I want you to know that I will not besmirch your character or allow your legacy at Haven to be tarnished. But, should you attempt to stir up strife, or sow seeds of discord, I will address that issue directly because I am called to guard this flock from wolves that would like to see the sheep scattered.
My dad used to tell a story about a difficult season that he experienced as a young man at his home church in North Carolina. There was contention in the church, and the people had divided. Sadly, one Sunday morning before they dismissed, people began standing up and angrily shouting at one another. It was a sad and disgraceful scene. After this concluded, the pastor(unsure of what to say or do) lifted his hand in the air and said to the church: “All I know to say is… when the dust settles, I will be standing right here.”. Allow me to echo his words—Hopefully, the dust settles very soon, and when it does, by God’s grace, I will be standing here.
This is not my church, it belongs to God. Jesus is the head of this body and it will continue because of HIM! To close, I want to share a few verses that I’ve been leaning on in recent days from Psalm 57:
“Be merciful unto me, O God,
be merciful unto me:
for my soul trusteth in thee:
yea, in the shadow of thy wings
will I make my refuge,
until these calamities be overpast.
I will cry unto God most high;
unto God that performeth
all things for me.
He shall send from heaven,
and save me from the reproach
of him that would swallow me up. Selah.
God shall send forth his mercy and his truth.
My soul is among lions:
and I lie even among them that are set on fire,
even the sons of men,
whose teeth are spears and arrows,
and their tongue a sharp sword.
Be thou exalted, O God,
above the heavens;
let thy glory be above all the earth.”
In Christ Alone,