Beltsville Lead Pastor
October 17, 2014 by Tim Madding
“Wait. What? You’re the new Lead Pastor in Beltsville? I thought you moved there to plant a church.”
I know. Right?
It’s amazing how God works. This certainly was not my plans, but it is so clear to me that God lead in the process. Let me tell you how.
Over the past few years, Andrea and I have sensed a strong calling to return to church planting. I served in a local church and a conference office over the past eight years with our primary responsibilities to help churches become more effective in discipleship and mission. As a result, I have returned to my very strong belief that the future of the church and its primary mission of discipleship lies in church planting.
When the opportunity to return to church planting was offered to us, and after considerable prayer, we chose to leave Pennsylvania (a place and people we grew to love) and move just outside our nation’s capital to plant a church primarily targeting the unchurhced young adult professional.
Over the past several years the Beltsville Seventh-day Adventist Church () has been making plans to plant a new church. The church is healthy and growing. Just a short time ago, they moved to two services and continued to grow. Under the leadership of Lead Pastor Kermit Netteburg and associates, Sonia Perez and Will Johns, the church began making plans to continue their discipleship effectiveness by planting a church, sending 50-60 of its membership as missionaries into Silver Spring, MD. They only needed a church planter to do it.
That’s when God brought us together. Andrea and I were sensing God’s calling to return to church planting and they were looking for a church planter. We moved here in mid-July and while unpacking our socks and frying pans, we began getting to know the membership at Beltsville Church. Our mission was to actively recruit 50-60 people from Beltsville to join us in Silver Spring.
“Yea, I know that part. But how did you become the Lead Pastor?”
Well, that’s where God showed His providence.
We knew God had called us here. And called us here for church planting.
Beltsville Lead Pastor, Kermit Netteburg retired at the end of June, just before we moved here. Immediately the church began the process of finding a new lead pastor. As the church planting pastor, I was given the opportunity to preach on a regular basis. In time some of the membership began pondering whether I would take the position.
Every once in a while a church member would approach me.
“Pastor Tim, you should be our new lead pastor.”
I would respond with a smile and a thankful heart, conveying my appreciation for their kind words and trust in me.
I didn’t want it.
God had not called me here to be the lead pastor (so I thought).
And I didn’t want to pastor an established church that might be more focused on itself over the mission (not knowing Beltsville very well).
So I dismissed it.
“Hey Tim. I just wanted to give you a heads up that people want you to be lead pastor.”
John Cress, Potomac Ministerial Director (the guy who oversees all the Adventist pastors in Maryland and Virginia) gave me a courtesy call. He’d received a number of phone calls and emails from members at Beltsville enquiring as to whether I could or would be the new lead pastor. He thought I’d want to know and encouraged us to think and pray it over.
I told him we would.
Honestly, I wasn’t interested.
God had called me here for church planting and after spending a great deal of time in prayer (I mean heart wide open! Here I am God! Reveal yourself to me prayer time) he’d begun giving me a clear vision for church planting. Not only direction for Silver Spring, but honestly, for the greater DC area and beyond. Yea- beyond! (more about that in a later post).
In my mind, to be lead pastor of Beltsville would undo all of that. To be a pastor of an established church would prevent me from fulfilling the passion God had put upon my heart. I was here to follow God’s leading, not a position.
Don’t get me wrong, Beltsville is awesome. Really awesome! I mean REALLY awesome!!
The church is a strong, healthy church.
“You said that already.”
I know but let me now elaborate.
The Beltsville Church is growing because what they are willing to sacrifice for mission.
One of their greatest values (in my perception) is family (we are all one big happy church family where we all know and care for each other). Yet they are willing to pay the price required for mission. They outgrew their sanctuary so made the sacrifice to go to two services (not an easy thing for a church to do). They chose to plant a church. Again, another sacrifice when one of your greatest values is family. These two recent decisions they have made (and many others), have shown that they were willing to put mission above themselves. This is unheard of in most churches today.
So we began to pray about it. Seeking God’s will.
“God has called me here for church planting!”
This thought kept going through my mind over and over again.
“Lord, if you have called me here to plant not only this church in Silver Spring, but others also, how could you be calling me to be lead pastor at Beltsville?
Then, BAM! It hit me.
If God was calling the Beltsville Church to not only plant Silver Spring but others also then the vision God had put upon my heart could be fulfilled in Beltsville. Could it be that God was calling me to church planting and lead pastor at Beltsville? Was God calling the Beltsville Church to be a church planting church, where they planted many churches?
I called a number of trusted friends who bleed mission. Asking them for counsel. All of them could see God’s leading in this.
After seeking their honest hearts, the conference leadership (those who pay me so that I can live on mission) and the Beltsville Church leadership both committed to this vision (not a small thing to ask by the way). The conference leadership had made a commitment to church planting and saw this as one way God was leading to fulfill it. The Beltsville Church leadership believed that this was the next step in their missional effectiveness.
It was clear to me God was leading.
So I accepted God’s call to be the lead pastor of the Beltsville Seventh-day Adventist Church and will begin my formal leadership there October 25, 2014.
Exciting to see how God leads next…
I believe that the local church is God's primary tool for preparing as many people as possible for the second coming of Jesus.