Jul 18, 2009

Updates On My Crazy World

Hey guys. Been a few weeks since I last posted. Basically because I have spent the last three weeks totally changing much of my professional and family world. On June 28, I preached at and accepted the call to become the next Senior Pastor at Sixth Street Baptist Church in Alexander City, AL. It's been a long and emotional journey the last 9+ months. Last fall, I spent some time in prayer and consulting several mentors about some discontent in my spirit and calling to serve God's kingdom. I was affirmed by many others that God was possibly calling me to step out and seek to serve as the pastor and chief shepherd of a local church. After months of prayer, telephone calls with friends and mentors, and several interviews with a number of churches, God has now opened a new door for me to serve the Kingdom.

This transition was huge for me on a number of levels. First, I am leaving behind a church family and group of co-workers at Westwood that I have served alongside of for twelve and a half years. When I came to Westwood in 1996, I prayed that God would allow me to have a ministry of longevity. It has been a dream come true. The people of Westwood invested a lot in me, allowed me to work though my own maturation process in ministry, and gave me a forum to develop my leadership and communication skills. It is one of the best churches in the state of Alabama. We've seen phenomenal growth over the last 12 years. I have had a lifetime of ministry experiences at summer camps, building houses in Mexico, doing mission in Honduras, visiting people in hospitals, and doing weddings and funerals. I have had relationships with hundreds of students and hundreds of other church members who trusted me and sought out my spiritual insights. Westwood will always have a fond place in my heart. Last Sunday, July 12, was my last as a member of Westwood. I had a huge moment driving off the campus for the last time. This past Thursday, I packed my books and locked my door for the last time. It was a difficult, but rewarding experience.

In addition, this transition is huge for my family. My tenure in Alabaster brought me a wife and three boys. Alabaster is the only home they have ever known. Alison and I have had great relationships with the neighbors on my cul-de-sac. We've also met dozens of other parents through our involvement with kids sports. I didn't get to say goodbye to most of these people from the community. I regret that deeply and if you are reading this, please know that I will miss you.

Now my kids have to learn a new school system. They will have a different experience on Sunday mornings at church. My wife is walking away from her job as a NICU nurse and will probably be working at something else soon. We've spent the last three weeks doing a lot of work to prepare our home to sell. Now, on the verge of moving my family and assuming the pulpit for God's church, I find myself filled with a mix of excitement, anxiety, awe, and gratitude. My prayer is that my family will find Alexander City to be as much of a home as the one they are now leaving. I also pray that I will be a faithful steward of God's Word, a leader of His church, and proclaimer of the gospel. Don't know what the next few years will have in store, but it should be quite a ride.

More updates coming soon...


larry vann said...

You have left Alabaster better than you found it, Matt. You are wise beyone your years and you will be sorely missed. But we all shall meet again. God calls.

Blessings to you and your family. We love you.

larry vann and family

Helms Family said...

Thank you so much for your friendship. In the past two years you have been added to a short list of folks that have impacted my life in a very significant manner. I thank our wonderful Lord everyday for you and youre family. Who would have thought that a simple introduction at a membership class would have turned into a 2 year home group journey, many lunches and cups of coffee shared (probably too many)over serious and not so serious conversation and all those late night mindless texts about sports. The good news is Alex City is not that far away and Farm Links will be a good half way point for both of us. The Helms wish you guys all of the best with the plan and direction that God has set before you. I love you brother and look forward to seeing you soon.

Emily Stansell said...

Matt, thank you so much for being the best youth/college minister that I could have ever asked for. I learned so much from you and it is largely due to your influence that I am now walking closely with Christ as a young woman. That day at student life camp 2005 when you told me that you supported my call to missions is a moment that stands out in my mind and was what drove me to immediately try to follow Christ to Honduras, then to Mexico, and eventually to Peru. Know that by just loving on us kids here at WW, you've eternally impacted the world.
Miss you, you better come back and do my wedding!
Emily Stansell