An Open Letter of Thanks to The Town Community Group Leaders

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (Php 1:3–6).

And so begins Paul as he addresses the saints at Philippi in this most joyous of letters. I realize this verse is often cited in the expression of godly thanksgiving for persons who have been a blessing to someone. And while I will admit that my consistency in prayer does not match that of Paul (although my spirit desires it to be so), my feelings of thankfulness for gospel partnership at least comes closer. I refer to the men who led community groups here at The Town, and to their labor in ministry. Truly, the brothers who stood with me to lead our small groups during the formative days of what would become The Town, and all the men who would follow in their footsteps, were true partners in seeing the gospel advance in Middletown and throughout this region.

These men submitted themselves to the training, assessment, approval, and oversight of the church and were committed to providing spiritual leadership to so many of the church’s people throughout the years. Although unordained, these leaders served in almost every way as elders do, teaching and shepherding God’s flock (in fact, all of our elders are former community group leaders). They bore the burden of setting the tables of discussion week in and week out. They spoke words of healing to those who needed it and words of rebuke when that was called for. They walked with families who welcomed in new life and walked with families who lost new life, as the most joyous of moments turned to valleys of deep darkness. These men, in the early days, would interview those seeking to join the church, and had the challenging task of pursuing those who wandered away from the flock. These poor men had the distinct displeasure of sometimes having to rally their groups to do really mundane service efforts like filling those tortuous Easter eggs with cheap candy. They were responsible for keeping a vision of growth ever before their people and laying hands on other guys to consider leading their own groups. They gave up weeknights and Saturdays to attend leader meetings. They attended weddings, funerals, and various trips and events to support those under their care. They had to endure the disappointment of cancelling meetings at the last minute and seeing their labors of preparation wasted because those who had the luxury of simply not showing up failed to let them know in advance. And there was never a break (at least officially). Our community group leaders had the long-game in view and were willing to work until there wasn’t much left.

To these men…all the ones currently serving and to all those who took up the mantle at some point in the past…to my brothers: THANK YOU. The Town would not be the church it is today without you. Me, Pastor Dan, and  our ruling elders would not have been able to bear the burden of so many by ourselves. Especially during those years of being portable and being a really simple church. Thank you for the countless hours, the skill, the determination, the compassion for others, the commitment to the mission of The Town, the dependence on the Spirit, and the love for God Almighty himself. You guys did real good work. For over 12 years you were the frontlines of spiritual formation here. Thank you. And I appreciate your patience with me over the years, for your trust, and for your encouragement as well. I hope you know that I and the elders recognize that transition is always difficult, but please know that I will always treasure this model and the fruit that came from it. It worked. It really, really worked. And perhaps it will work again in the future.

To all those reading this who benefited from the ministry of community groups, please join me in thanking these men as the Lord leads. And give God the glory! And please join me and the elders in prayer, asking for God to direct our steps in the days ahead as it concerns discipleship at The Town.

Pastor Scott

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