“Our” Rachel in the pulpit

“Our” Rachel in the pulpit

When our Rachel was two or so, I started taking her out for dates. We’d go to Starbucks and get a hot chocolate. More than once, I had to clean up spilled hot chocolate because it was too hot, no matter how carefully I tried to warn the barista. But usually, Rachel would sip her cocoa, I’d sip my mocha… and I would brainwash her. For instance, I would say, “What college are you going to? And, at the earliest age, she would reply “Whitwuf.”

My evil scheme worked; Rachel did end up going to Whitworth for a wonderful Christian education. But only after 17 years of being raised in this church and influenced deeply by thousands of encounters with godly surrogate parents and grandparents. You, too, spoke words of Christian witness and encouragement into her life. You, too, helped shape her for that unknown future that is unfolding now before us. And of course, I was teasing about “brainwashing.” This is disciple-making; surrounding people with a culture of faith, love, and encouragement that shapes them, prepares them, launches them, and applauds how God makes use of them.

This weekend, Rachel will be our kick-off preacher as we start a new sermon series for August Family worship called “Get Outside!” I am unabashedly biased, but I can’t wait to hear what the Lord puts on her heart. And as you listen, I hope you will relish the fact that Rachel is only the most recent—number 16, to be exact—of seminarians that we have nurtured and launched into pastoral ministry. Another example of our Beyond These Walls commitment to “Releasing Leaders!”

This will be the first message she has preached to us since graduating from Gordon-Conwell Seminary. Next fall, she will begin her one-year pastoral residency at a great church in Richmond, Virginia. But for this summer… we get her!

I’ve said it before, but let me do so again, because my gratitude is boundless. Thank you for the part you have played in making my children into disciples of Jesus. May our tribe increase. Forever.

Pastor Mark