Moving Forward While Going Backward: A Letter to West Franklin

West Franklin Family,

Ever feel like you’re going backwards?

About the time I feel like we are on the “other side” of COVID-19, I feel we take a step backward. Mandatory masks. Hot spots. School openings delayed. The Big Ten and Pac 12 announced they are only playing football within their conference.

I was looking forward to offering childcare on our campus later this month. But not now. That has been delayed indefinitely.

Sometimes I feel like we are going backwards.

But (and this is a BIG but), that’s not how God works. And it’s not how many of you are doing things. You are moving forward in the midst of the going backward.

Did you know one of our own biked the length of our country to raise awareness aiming to prevent the killing of the unborn? Did you know he was able to talk about Jesus a lot, too? (Side note – did you know that over $22,000 goes to Hope Clinic for Women each year because of YOUR tithes and offerings?)

Did you know that two of our own got engaged last weekend?

Did you know that I had coffee with a West Franklin couple who discovered God put them on the corner of their street as a means of developing relationships with their neighbors for the sake of Gospel ministry?

Did you know that each and every week several of our own continue to minister with the incredible men and women from the Natchez area of Franklin – in the middle of a pandemic?

Did you know that I had one of our members follow me into the bathroom last Sunday (he was a man) to tell me he and his wife were getting counseling? Instead of giving up on their marriage, they are going to try to work it out. (BTW – I don’t usually have people follow into the bathroom, at least I hope not, but this was one of those coincidences. . . I hope.)

Did you know Dave and Josh preached their faces off the last two Sundays, leading you and me to understand more of God and His ways?

Did you know I had my summer review with my supervisor this week and I still have a job?

Did you know we hired a new Administrative Assistant this week? (Listen to the podcast on Monday. We interview her.)

Did you know that, instead of pie (see last week’s letter), a church member brought me a fresh loaf of bread? (It may or may not have been consumed within hours of delivery.)

Did you know I feel like I weigh 4 tons?

Did you know that we have a young lady in our church who is having rich and miraculous Gospel Conversations with her (currently) unbelieving mom?

Did you know that one of our LIFE groups took up money to help a couple in their group who has been out of work for a while due to COVID-19?

Did you know we are going to have a new stage set up this Sunday (tomorrow)? Yep. Brad and Dave (Edwards) have been working hard to enhance the worship experience through music, tech, etc.

Did you know that I continue to hear how grateful parents are for the extended time they are having with their children?

Did you know that our on-line viewership is still way above what we were averaging on “good” Sundays in the room pre-COVID? I mean, July 4th weekend, we had 513 people. Last year, same weekend? 317. I’m not good at math, but that’s almost a 200 person increase . . . in the middle of a pandemic. . . on a holiday weekend!

Did you know that Kelly has been working incredibly hard to make the VBS experience for our children fun, helpful, and incredible?

Did you know I had lunch with a friend this week who, after having the hardest year of his life, told me he is presently at one of the greatest places – emotionally – he has ever been?

Did you know we are praying for 40 days (go here and/or here) to be a different, more Gospel-focused and aggressively intentional church when we return for whatever our “new normal” will be?

Did you know that I recently had a 59 year old man, who has been attending for a while, ask to meet with me about baptism? Yep. Said he, for the first time in his life, is beginning to comprehend God’s unconditional love.

I don’t know about you, but it seems like things are moving forward to me.

That’s how the kingdom of God works, isn’t it? Unseen. Slow. Small. Yet remarkably powerful. Not near as loud as the news or social media or the opinions of others. But quiet, and remarkably life-changing. As a matter of fact, if I am not mistaken, Jesus told Peter nothing could overcome the kingdom. That sounds very forward-y to me.

So yeah. In many ways, this week has seemed like we are going backward. But not really. Followers of Jesus move forward. We move forward because the One we are following reigns supreme over all things. In other words, you keep doing what you’re doing West Franklin. It’s going to be okay.

Your Pastor Loves You,

Pastor Matt

Housekeeping:

a. Our livestream will air at 9:00 am and 11:00 am (NOT 10:30 am!!!!) tomorrow. Go here to watch on FacebookHere to watch on YouTube.
b. Before you show up tomorrow, please watch this video!!!
c. Registration for Sunday, July 19th, will open Monday, July 13th and will close Wednesday, July 15th at midnight. You should receive an email (check your junk folder); or, you can visit our website for the link.
d. 40 Days of Prayer is going on NOW – go here for Facebook or here for YouTube.
e. Don’t forget! Every Monday, Dave Kruse and I dive deeper into the sermon material from the previous Sunday on West Franklin Talks.
f. Deacon nominations will begin tomorrow. Check your eBulletin for details! (Please read carefully before nominating!)
g. We are going to attempt observing the Lord’s Supper NEXT Sunday (July 19th). If you are watching from home, it would be a good idea to have elements ready beforehand.