Different Church, Same Address: A Letter to West Franklin

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West Franklin Family,

I have heard Mike Glenn say many times that he has pastored several different churches at the same address. He means Brentwood Baptist has transformed into a different church several times during his 30-year tenure as senior pastor. Before coming to West Franklin, I pastored three churches. Friendship Baptist in Amite, Louisiana for nearly five years. Wynne Baptist Church in Wynne, Arkansas for nearly eight years. And First Baptist Church in El Dorado, Arkansas for over two years. When I first heard Mike say what he said about pastoring different churches at the same address, I knew what he meant, but I had never experienced it. as a pastor.

I think it’s starting to happen.

On my previous stops, I didn’t stay long enough to experience a “new church within the same church.” Yes, I stayed at Wynne for a while. But I had NO CLUE of what I was doing. Don’t tell anyone in Arkansas, but most of the time I was in Wynne – I didn’t know what planet I was on. It was only by the grace and the Spirit of God that I was able to pastor there for as long as I did. All this to say that I have simply never known a different church at the same address.

Until now. (And don’t tell anyone else, but I still have NO CLUE what I’m doing.)

West Franklin is a new church. Same address. New Church. Same location. Different congregation. why is this the case? How are we a new church? Some things are obvious: renovated building; two additional full-time employees; two years of COVID; etc But other things are not so obvious. Some have endured and have remained since the merger in 2014. Others have moved on. Some came and then moved to another city. Some we haven’t seen or heard from since the pandemic. Some came because they found us online during the pandemic. Some left to find a better fit for them. Others have come because they find their “fit” here. Some left West Franklin for a season and came back. In other words, West Franklin is different. Many have endured the past eight years. Many have moved on. Fortunately, many more came and joined in the fun.

Is this the new building?

Is it because people are moving to that area?

Is it because our podcast is absolutely killer?

Is it because people can see our parking crew wearing their bright orange shirts from 8 miles away and are attracted to us like a bug to the light?

Is it because people are “over” COVID?

Is it because we have people – literally – from all over the United States who now gather to worship on Sunday mornings?

Is it because we have – literally – every age group represented at West Franklin?

Is it because we have – literally – a wide range of professions represented?

Is it because almost all SEC schools are loved by a variety of members?

I do not know. But it’s different. This is a good thing. I dare say it is a thing of God. But 700 New Highway 96 West is different. West Franklin Church still rises on the same property every Sunday. But those who come up look and feel and talk and behave and function differently than the church that was here in 2014.
Why am I sharing this with you? Three reasons. One, so that you are aware. West Franklin Church is a different church in the same location. It is essential that we all recognize it, pay attention to it and reflect on its reality. In fact, allow me to encourage you to inspect the room tomorrow morning. Write down how many people you don’t know yet. Second, I don’t want to miss why God is doing this. I don’t want to have my head in the sand, unaware of what’s going on, mistakenly assuming that I’ve been pastoring the same church since 2014. God called me to be Pastor CE West Franklin. Not the one who was. Not the one who will be. The one who is, NOW. I’m called to pastor the church right across from me. Three, I want this to send us to our knees. If it is true that we are a different church at the same address (and we are), then it is also true that God has brought us together for a purpose. I want us to look for it together. I want us to pay attention to what He is doing together. I want us to walk with Him through this next season, together. I don’t want to assume that we know how to do church together because this church has never done church together. I also don’t want to assume that we know what God is doing because of what he did years ago.

Would you pray that we will experience the Father’s presence, plan and purpose together? Like the church He has assembled now? Would you pray that we are all open to what he wants to do in us and through us – for each other and for our city? And would you pray that ultimately we will be a community of people who know, love and worship God?

I CAN’T WAIT to open my Bible to John 15:1-8 AND observe the Lord’s Supper with you in the morning.

Until there. . .

Eager to enjoy God with you,

Pastor Matt

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