Emmanuel Baptist Church, Enid, Oklahoma
Sunday, March 2, 1992 - Sunday, March 4, 2007
Fifteen years ago today, the first Sunday of March, Rachelle and I began our ministry at the greatest Southern Baptist Church in Oklahoma. When we came our oldest child was in kindergarden and our youngest child had not yet been born. Now, fifteen years later our oldest is at Baylor in Waco and our youngest is in junior high. Our children will forever call Enid home.
I am reminded that in the old days pastors would often stay with their congregations for life. Spurgeon was at the Metropolitan Tabernacle for nearly four decades. John Gill was at Horsleydown for over fifty years. Benjamin Keach pastored his church for over fifty years as well. These 18th and 19th century English Baptist pastors are excellent models for those of us who are surrounded by modern examples of two year average pastorates in the United States.
The advantage of staying with a congregation for a long period of time is that you get to know families. You marry their children, you bury their parents. You are with God's people in both their good times and their bad times. You see people saved and you stay around long enough to see them lead others to Christ. You develop deep relationships that go beyond the surface. In fact, I am hard pressed to come up with any negatives for a long tenure of a pastor.
Of course, for a fifteen year ministry to feel like it is a continuing honeymoon, the people of the church have to be like those at Emmanuel The kindness, support and generosity of Emmanuelites to the Burleson family will never be forgotten nor able to be repaid. We carry our debt with gratitude, for as the Apostle Paul states, 'Owe no man anything save love.' The Burlesons make no bones about the fact we are in the deep debt of love to the people of Emmanuel.
I pray you have a wonderful Lord's day today. I know we will as we thank God for Emmanuel.
In His Grace,