“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:18-19, NIV).
The prophet Isaiah had to deliver many messages from God to the disobedient, rebellious Israelites that were unpleasant. God told them, in no uncertain terms, that without repentance, they would be conquered and taken into captivity by the cruel Babylonians. However, Isaiah was also able to deliver God’s promises of restoration. The above two verses are a part of that expression of divine hope. Even though their immediate application was designed for the Israelites to experience, the message still applies to His Church in many ways.
Even though we do not need to forget the former things completely – remember that God never wants us to forget what He has done for His people in the past – we should be looking ahead to the new thing that God is doing. And what God is doing at Rochester First Baptist Church is preparing His congregation for a new era of ministry as the pastoral search process unfolds and reaches fruition. At the same time, He is preparing a pastor who is, or will be, seeking a new calling in ministry to be led to First Baptist. God will unite the right pastor with the right church at the right time.
In the meantime, the fellowship at First Baptist is to be actively intentional in our part of the process. Yes, it is the will of God that will be fulfilled when church and pastor are brought together, but we must be willing to diligently humble ourselves before Him as the human part of the process unfolds. Lift up the Pulpit Committee regularly in prayer for endurance, wisdom, and patience. Pray for congregational endurance, wisdom, and patience. When the time comes, pray diligently for the pastoral candidate that the Pulpit Committee introduces to the church fellowship.
Additionally, actively participate by providing the information and the guidance that the Pulpit Committee needs in order to perform their important task. Respond to surveys and other means of communication as they develop an accurate profile and description of the ministry goals of First Baptist. Recognize that throughout the pastoral search process, and especially after the new pastor is called and installed, part of the new thing that God is doing is to renew some of the current ministries, eliminate or transform some of the current ministries, and begin completely new ministries. No matter how it shapes up, it requires our active participation and support in accordance with the call of God upon each of our lives.
It took Israel 70 years in captivity for God’s message to sink in. I don’t think that our pastoral search process will be quite that drastic, but we do need to take it just as seriously. And, we need to minister in prayerful patience. “See, I am doing a new thing!”