Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Two years at Capitol Hill Baptist Church

Two years ago to the day (1st August 2005) I boarded a plane with my wife, daughter and son to move to Washington DC, and to be involved with Capitol Hill Baptist Church. They have been two fantastic years, and I am hugely grateful for...
1) The congregation at CHBC who have taught me do much about what it means to be a Loving Church. A couple of stories will illustrate the extraordinary love that only the gospel can bring about. An elderly member of the church was in hospital; she had so many visits from members of CHBC that the nurses asked her, "Who ARE you? Who are all these people!?" Her answer, "I'm a member of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, and that is my family."

2) The elders at CHBC who have taught me that a plurality of godly elders are needed for a church to be well loved by being well fed. The elders are a great body of men who have been committed

3) The pastors: Thabiti Anyabwile was pastor at CHBC until he left for Grand Cayman exactly a year ago. One of my first experiences of Thabiti was the very kind way in which he was willing to befriend and love a brother like me who is rather different to me culturally. "Come into my office, have a seat... you seem a little awkward Mike, what's going on." I didn't dare to tell him at the time that my awkwardness was just a normal English way of behaving... but I guess he found that out later!

Andy Johnson is a great example of a strategic thinker. I've never known a church with such a strong desire to see loving churches planted in places where the gospel is little heard. Much of that desire has come from Andy discipling people into his own passion for the lost.

Michael Lawrence is an extremely gifted preacher, biblical theologian and counsellor who is willing to serve in a church where he gets many of the less pleasant jobs that would normally fall onto a senior pastor's shoulders. Why? Because he has a passion to train up future pastors, and CHBC is a good place to do that.

Mark Dever has patiently loved me for many years; the Lord has used him to shape my thinking as to how church should be loving and I should love the church more than any other man. It is privilege to serve with him.

Many of the lessons that I hope will last with me as long as the Lord gives me life, he has taught me through these four men.

One of the great blessing of being in a loving church is seeing my family so well loved. People love my children (a single lady in her twenties taking my daughter out to the cinema, countless people looking after our children out of love for Hannah and me to give us some time with just the two of us.) People love my wife (but then, she is very easy to love) in the way that they have spent time encouraging her and being encouraged by her to love the Lord more; in praying for her and with her; in serving her so well by providing childcare (and more than childcare, high quality biblical teaching to my children... My 3 year old was able to say "A is for Adoration, C is for Confession, T is for thanksgiving, S if for suffocation" - he couldn't quite manage "supplication"!) This level of care for my children has been Sunday morning (Sunday school and the main service) and Sunday evening so that Hannah has not been so well fed by the word for years.

My family and I have been back visiting the UK for the last few days; it has been a good time today to reflect on the Lord's kindness to us through one local church that the Lord has used to shape us since we were last in the UK. Capitol Hill Baptist Church is by no means a perfect church. But it has been a privilege to celebrate 2 years of being a part of this loving church.

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