When Jason Meyer was recommended to be the successor of John Piper at Bethlehem, I took a couple of hours to share why I believe Jason would be a great candidate for such a position. Pastoral succession can be very difficult. I have heard of numerous churches that have struggled and failed in this challenging process of transition. Both John Piper and Jason Meyer have personally impacted my life in profound ways, and for that I’m grateful to watch with joy this video testimony played at Jason’s installation service last Sunday evening.
For He Alone Is Worthy: The Video Testimony of Jason Meyer’s Installation Service at Bethlehem Baptist Church
As you know, I have been praying for and paying close attention to the succession plan/process at Bethlehem Baptist Church. My interest is really twofold: on the one hand, this succession is between a hero (Piper) and a personal mentor (Meyer). On the other hand, the issue of pastoral succession is, in my opinion, one of the biggest issues facing local churches today. I can’t find the statistic, but somewhere I read that 3/4 of large churches are currently pastored by the leader during its most significant growth. In other words, the church’s identity/personality has been largely influenced and shaped by the personality/values of the lead pastor. When the pastor leaves, how will it affect the church? Is there any forethought or plan in place for the health and prosperity of the church and its mission for the next generation?
Along those lines, I am thrilled to see how God has unmistakably worked in the succession plan/selection process of the next lead pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church. Below is a video interview with John Piper and Jason Meyer, interviewed by Justin Taylor on the campus of Southern Seminary, in which they discuss for the first time together what God has done over the past year to bring it all about. Watching this, my heart is filled with gratitude on multiple levels, especially for God’s “leaning in” in choosing to make His will known in such a glorious way.
Last night, Bethlehem Baptist Church had an all-church congregational meeting to vote on the unanimous recommendation of the elders for the successor of John Piper as Associate Pastor for Preaching & Vision. As many of you know, I have had the privilege of knowing and being mentored by Jason Meyer, so I am particularly interested in the outcome of these events. The result of last night’s vote was an 99% affirmation (784 yes, 8 no), further paving the way to a healthy succession plan under the leadership of the elders (and of course John Piper). Plans are for Jason to begin ministering in this capacity on or before August 1, 2012. Pray for him, BBC, and this process!
John Piper reflected on this vote through a blogpost on BBC’s website. He wrote:
On February 13, 1980, Bethlehem voted to call me as her pastor. The vote was 149 yes, 17 no (89.7%). Thirty-two years later the church is more united than ever behind her leaders. For this I am on my face with tears of thankfulness and joy.
Jesus Christ is the head of this church. And he means to have the glory. Let him have it from your heart and lips. Gather your family and friends and give thanks. Tell him how amazing he is. Exult in the cross of Christ. Without it there could be no such blessings on sinners like us.
Praise God for the unity He has given BBC, wisdom to the elders, and humble dependence upon God to shepherd them through this critical period in the life of their church.
This post is entirely unplanned. In fact, I just happened to see John Piper’s tweet about the succession plan going forward. And now that the choice has been made, I’d like to share a thought two why I believe Jason Meyer is the right man for Bethlehem Baptist Church as the successor to John Piper.
I met the guy who is replacing John Piper first on a UPS tram at 3:30AM nearly five years ago. He was reading his Greek New Testament, something which I came to find he was actually memorizing. I had to meet this guy. Walking to the parking lot, we connected as I soon to find what a gracious guy Jason Meyer really is. Jason worked third shift with me, seeking to evangelize the same people I was seeking to reach. He also pastored a small church out in the sticks, faithfully expositing God’s Word in total obscurity. He was completing his Ph.D while teaching NT Greek, and if I remember correctly, holding down a couple of other jobs. What I came to find God enabling Jason to do was nothing short of amazing. More than that, God afforded me a year of getting to know the kind of man Jason is, which leads me to this post and Piper’s announcement.
While in seminary, I always wanted a godly man to mentor me, to speak into my life and help me love Jesus more. Three years in, I did not think it would happen. But on that cold, autumn morning on a stinky UPS bus, God answered that prayer through Jason. Over the course of the next year, Jason would become my Greek professor, mentor, and a great personal friend. Every Thursday morning, we would meet at the UPS cafeteria, reading through Scripture and praying fervently for the Lord to work in our life. It was honestly the highlight of my week. We were not just praying. We were communing with God. The people you’re with when those moments occur are the ones you want to have with you the rest of your life.
I certainly don’t know Jason as well as others do, but I did have the opportunity to see his life up close and personal, how he loves his wife Cara and precious girls (and since then two adopted sons). I been with him in prayer, observed his love and passion for God’s Word. The sincerity and gravitas by which he walks with Jesus permeates every aspect of his life. There is nothing sensational about Jason Meyer, and that is why most of the evangelical world does not know him. He hasn’t sought a platform when he could have easily had one. He’s not that kind of guy. He’s the guy you meet at 3:30AM in the UPS cafeteria and the young preacher boy giving his life away to a small country church that no one has ever heard of. That’s the guy I believe God had long ago called to be the man to succeed John Piper.
There’s a lot of similarity between John Piper and Jason Meyer.
Here is Jason Meyer’s second contribution to “missional work”. Check out “Witnessing at Work: Sacred or Secular?” also by Jason.
I will always remember the day that my dad gave me some wise counsel. He said, “Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.” I am sure he told me other wise things, but I probably was not listening. I have kept this particular piece of advice me for all of these years because something about it rung true. I never thought it had anything to do with evangelism, but I do now. I will try to explain my rationale in what follows.
Most people wouldn’t give a minimum-wage job a very high ranking in the category of “rewarding and fulfilling.” Therefore, a college education can be an essential aspect of finding a job that fully fits with your God-given gifts and passions. Although some colleges would omit the “God-given” part, most recruiters at colleges and universities use this kind of proverbial wisdom to press for educational decisions from high school seniors.
My burden today is to point out that following this advice will actually cause you to be a more effective evangelist at work. In other words, one of the most neglected strategies for witnessing at work begins long before your hire date: know yourself so that you can identify what a fulfilling vocation looks like for you, and then take the necessary steps to secure a job within that field. Education is one of those “necessary steps” for many today.
The importance of finding a meaningful and fulfilling vocation for evangelism should be obvious: it is hard to witness winsomely concerning the joy of following Jesus when we look miserable at work. I remember working at jobs where I had to fight feelings of futility. There were some days when I felt like they could train a monkey to do my job, which certainly didn’t leave me with lasting feelings of fulfillment.
Now don’t get me wrong, we can still glorify God in the midst of the most mundane work imaginable. I remember learning that lesson as a college sophomore when I read Brother Lawrence’s book Practicing the Presence of God. Great theology should form the foundation of great doxology. In this case, knowing and cherishing God’s glorious omnipresence has enormous ramifications for our ongoing experience of God in the midst of menial tasks like washing dishes. Jesus didn’t say: “I’m with you always, except when you are washing dishes.”
Last year, I decided to make a greater investment in highlighting upcoming book releases with the purpose of directing interested readers to resources they could benefit from reading. The book alerts (previews) are not critical reviews but rather overviews and summaries intended to provide people with additional information about a book that deserves greater exposure and accessibility. I have for some time wanted to start posting critical book reviews; however, due to my already busy schedule, I have not been able to work them into the P&P programming. That is until this year.
Last week I discussed with a dear brother and personal mentor about joining me here at P&P. His name is Jason Meyer, a recent Ph.D. graduate of Southern Seminary and assistant professor of religion at Louisiana College. I personally know him best as a man of prayer with incredible devotion to the Scripture, a godly husband intensely committed to his wife and two girls, and formerly a third-shift co-laborer in the harvest field called UPS (I have written elsewhere about Jason here and here). God has uniquely gifted Jason with one of the sharpest minds and hottest hearts I have ever encountered, and he is a pastor-theologian whom I want to commend to you (two messages you can download or listen online are “What Is the Church?” and “Dealing with Grief and Pain” (sermon begins at 22:00 mark). Academically speaking, Jason is a graduate of Oklahoma Wesleyan (B.S.) and Southern Seminary (M.Div. and Ph.D) as well as one among the first class of students at The Bethlehem Institute, the education and training wing of Bethlehem Baptist Church. He is also a contributing author to a forthcoming NT Intro/Survey to be published by Broadman & Holman.
I am delighted to have Jason posting book reviews (and perhaps more) here at P&P and hope they will be profitable to you. His first review is slated to go up later this week, so be looking for it!