“The Delight of a Shepherd’s Heart”
Having lived in Germany three times during my childhood as a military brat, it has been the longing of my heart for more than 30 years to return to Germany to serve military families in pastoral ministry. This prayer came to fruition in May as the Lord affirmed through His church the call for me to serve as the senior pastor at Faith Baptist Church in Kaiserslautern. But as you already know, this story is not truly about me. This story is about the faithfulness of Jesus Christ to His church.
In coming to a new place of ministry, there are hidden hopes deep in the heart of a pastor related to the true purpose of the church and its ministries, the love of the people for the Lord and each other, the holiness of the church, the church’s hunger for and obedience to the Word of God, the church’s faithfulness to pray and give and serve, and the faithfulness of individual believers to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with those who do not know the Lord in order to make disciples of Christ. So, what did I find at Faith Baptist Church?
At Faith, I have found a family of Christians that is biblically faithful. As I began to preach expository, text-driven sermons and to teach expositionally from the Word of God, this congregation came alive. Even though these believers are following Jesus in a cloud of failing post-modernism that denies the authority and over-arching truth of Scripture, these faithful saints of God show forth a resolute devotion and readiness to hear biblical truth and to obey it.
At Faith, I have found a family of Christians that is doctrinally shaped. It is one thing to say that we believe the Word of God, but it is something quite different to hold to the doctrinal truths of conservative Protestant orthodoxy in the face of a vast, pluralistic marketplace of ideas characterized by relativism. In this Western cultural milieu in which the concept of moral absolutes is often eschewed, I have found this church to be a bastion of saints who desire to define their beliefs based on the doctrines of Scripture both in love and without compromise.
At Faith, I have found a family of Christians that is morally tough. While there is no shortage of people who claim to know the Lord even as they cherish and protect their hidden sins, I have found that the imperfect saints in this church are walking the narrow road of obedience to Christ even as they take steps to live holy lives before the Lord, choosing holiness over sin and cherishing the favor of God over temporal pleasure.
At Faith, I have found a family of Christians that is intellectually vibrant. There is a hunger here to grow in theology and practice that is evidenced by the number of people taking part in the study on hermeneutics that I am teaching on Wednesday nights this summer. Moreover, our preparations for the fall and spring Bible and discipleship studies for adults are generating great interest as is our Men’s Reading Cohort which will meet once a month to discuss a great book of the Christian faith (Athanasius’ On the Incarnation is scheduled for September and men are already buying their books). These believers seek to love the Lord with all of their minds in addition to their hearts.
At Faith, I have found a family of Christians that has a deep and abiding faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is of the most importance for if love for the Lord Jesus Christ does not drive all of the aforementioned expressions of our Christianity, then it is a fool’s errand in which we are engaged. But it is not a parade of fools that I lead here at Faith Baptist Church. Rather, we are a gathering of wretched sinners, saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, who are serving one another in love that we might fulfill the Great Commission for the glory of God. This glorious reality, this embassy of Christ’s redeemed ambassadors humbly making their light seen in the darkness of the foreign land of this passing world, is truly the delight of this shepherd’s heart.
Garrett Starr, Pastor