Introducing My New Ministry Assignment

It’s official. My new assignment is Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky. The church voted to call me as their senior pastor yesterday. Cheryl and I are excited.

Immanuel launched as a church on February 1, 1909 with 33 people. Today the church sits on a 22-acre campus located in the heart of Lexington, Kentucky and in close proximity to the University of Kentucky campus. It’s building has 217,000 square feet of usable space. The recreation center houses two full-size basketball courts, an indoor-walking track, aerobics room, cardiovascular workout room and a full- service café known as the Solid Rock Café. They have soccer and baseball fields.

Immanuel has a strong staff who seem eager for leadership and are already functioning as a healthy team. More than that, Immanuel’s people have a heart for missions and service and they truly want to reach Lexington for Christ. Immanuel has a great mix of seniors and youth, and I look forward to learning how to bridge the multi-generational gap for more effective ministry.

Although Immanuel is considerably smaller than my current church, I have never seen a church with more potential!

You may be wondering, what about my current church…and…have I abandoned church planting?

A couple weeks ago, I shared with the church I planted, Grace Community Church, that I was resigning. (You can watch that video HERE.) Leaving Grace is one of the hardest decisions Cheryl and I have ever made and it will always hold a piece of my heart. Grace started with 11 core families and a staff of 3 in our living room about 7 years ago. We’ve seen God do extraordinary things, now averaging over 2,500 in our worship experiences each week.

Grace is in good shape for the future. I don’t believe I would sense God releasing me otherwise. In the providence of God, I recruited a partner in this, my second, church plant. Chad Rowland is fully equipped to lead without me. The staff, who are some of our best friends in ministry, is strong and the team dynamics are extremely healthy. The best days are ahead for Grace.

As for church planting…yes…I love it and always will, but what about church revitalization? To me it’s the same heart. My heart is to see people come to know, love and be like Jesus. I love how that is happening in church plants around the world. As long as I’m breathing I’ll be encouraging church planters and assisting new church plants.

But, what about the older, established church? Who is going to help them thrive again? My heart breaks for church histories, church buildings, and bodies of believers who are mostly being underutilized in their Kingdom potential. I want to play a part in helping an older church see new life. I will begin knowing it will be harder work at times, but confident God is able to work His will in Immanuel through my leadership.

God has been at work at Immanuel for over 100 years. I feel unworthy, humbled and honored to join them in their history, look forward to their future, and celebrate with them what I believe could be their best years still to come.

Prayers appreciated. We will start officially at Immanuel in mid June, but first we want to finish well at Grace, sell a condo quickly and buy a place to live in Lexington. Will you say a prayer (or two) for us in this transition?

Do you have any examples to share of older, established churches that have been revitalized?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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76 thoughts on “Introducing My New Ministry Assignment

  1. Ron I have been your fb friend for some time and enjoy reading your comments i am a Christian and an active member of my church in lex. I am also a full time realtor of 40 years and want to offer you my help with selling the condo and finding a home to buy in Lex. My number is 533-7331. Please give me a call if I can be of service.

    • Thank you so much. We have sold our home and started our search there a couple months ago. I so much appreciate your willingness to help

  2. Congrats pastor for you and the family it’s my prayer that you are even more successful on this next level in God. Looking for more up coming post

  3. Pastor Ron,
    Congrats on the new assignment at the new church.. I will be praying for you and the family as you make the changes and sell ur condo and finish up at Grace.. You have done great things with God there and I know God has great plans for you in Lexington.. God Bless you….

  4. I’m excited about your new venture in ministry. As a small church pastor for whom revitalization is a way of life and ministry, I’m also looking forward to hearing about your ministry of revitalization. I pray we can learn, share, and grow together. God bless you!

  5. Thank of that, All my kids and family live in Lexington. My wife worked at Ashland Ave Baptist for five years. I trust you and your family will have God's riches blessings there in Lexington.

  6. Ron,

    Welcome to Lexington! Thanks for "answering the Call" to Immanuel. You are going to a great church with a great team and am excited what GOD will do there. I went there as a child from 1976-1983 and am now in Full-time Ministry as Executive Minister at NorthEast Christian in Lexington, therefore Immanuel will always have a special place in my heart. Once you get settled in would love to take you to breakfast/lunch and get to know you.
    We will be praying for you and your family during this transition and if I or NorthEast can assist in any way please don't hesitate to contact me. GOD Bless you! Greg Horn

    • Thanks. Look forward to getting to know you. I may need the dust to settle a little but it will be great to make new connections.

  7. Congratulations on the new assignment! I am glad for the new work. It always means lots of excitement for me when I go somewhere new, but usually means some stress as well! Watch yourself. Pace yourself. Blessings for you and your Wife!

  8. That's exciting Ron! As you move to Lexington, I pray that God be with you and bless you with his multitudes. May you be a greater blessing to people there. Also, praying for your smooth transition.

  9. I am a member of Immanuel and have already expressed my over the top excitement about having Ron and Cheryl join us so now I want to express my sincere thanks to the members of Grace. I've read so many comments on here and Facebook and everyone has been so gracious (although sad) to let them go. I know how it feels to lose a pastor that is so special, so thank you for your kindness. You are a very graciousness group of people. We promise to love them and take good care of them.

  10. Lexington is an AWESOME town. So excited of you guys. I do have to say I'm a little jealous that you guys are going to be in such a great college town!! Blessings Ron and congratulations again!

  11. Ron,
    Congratulations on your new assignment. I know that God will bless your ministry there as He has already blessed you with such a gift of leadership. You are in our prayers.
    Brandt

  12. Prayers. EnCOURAGEment too.
    God moves people to places for purposes.
    What a great opportunity for us all to watch, learn and participate in prayer.
    Certainly you will have much to share in the "how to" in new venue, that others may need as an example and directive.
    God is clear and trustworthy. Sincerely, Jackie
    Twitter: eccle0412

  13. Ron,

    Well we meet again. After planting growing churches together in Clarksville, TN… We are pastoring together in Lexington, KY.

    Welcome to Lexington!! Let me know if myself or our team at City Life Church can serve you or Immanuel in any way!!!

    Congrats!!!
    Twitter: Cantrellmike

  14. Congratulations on your new position! Kentucky is a wonderful place! You asked about other older churches that have been revitalized. I'm not sure if my home church ever had a down time, but it was founded in 1836 and seems to have only kept increasing in vitality–Middletown Christian Church in Louisville.

    The church my husband currently serves in Nashville was founded around the Civil War and we are working to revitalize it right now. Great people, aging congregation, major demographic shift in the neighborhood… it's a challenge!

  15. As a staff member at the Kentucky Baptist Convention, I'm so excited to hear you will be joining us in Kentucky! I've gained so many insights from you blog. Never imagined God might bring you here. __Immanual is indeed a wonderful church with a great past and a bright future. I'm excited to see what the future holds for you. __Even as I celebrate our gain here in Kentucky, I'll be praying for your church family and friends at Grace during this time of transition.

    Blessings!

  16. It's awesome to read about you and Cheryl praying through…and following through, God's plan! Our family is praying for a smooth road traveled to your next stop. We've even discussed coming up to Lexington to visit one Sunday.

    I like the fact that you didn't get 'comfortable' with Grace enough to settle (although many will miss you)….that you have that God given desire to continue to spread His message through the land.

    Exciting times ahead for Bluegrass country! Thanks for keeping us posted….

  17. Congratulations, Ron!! Praying God's blessings on you, your family and all those you'll be working with in spreading the Gospel!

  18. Wow, when you said 100 yr old church in your exit sermon you made it feel small and kind of tiny. I envisioned you going to this old, beat up church that was in the country with squeaky wooden pews and about 200 in the congregation. Beautiful stained glass windows adorned it, and they sang old hymns. You’re moving on up for sure! Gym, athletic fields, coffee shop with a name! Wowza. No wonder you donned the KY shirts so giddily :) best of luck

    • Ha! I certainly didn't intend to make it seem “small and tiny”. It is considerably smaller in terms of numbers of people attending…well less than 1/2 the size of Grace currently. A building doesn't indicate that a church is growing, but it can help in the growth process. We just need more people to fill the building! I only shared the building because that is one of the things which I believe is part of their great potential. The greatest potential for any church, however, is the people having an enthusiasm and motivation to reach their community for Christ. That's obviously what has happened and will continue to happen at Grace. I hope to spur that same enthusiasm at Immanuel. Thanks Kristin

    • Hello Kristin, I'm a member of the Lexington church that Ron is coming to and wanted to let you know that while our church facility is large, our numbers have dwindled over the last few years. We run about 1,000 on a Sunday morning which is considerably down from years ago. It makes me sad to look around our sanctuary each Sunday morning and see all the empty seats, seats that need to be filled with people who need a touch from Jesus. Our church is so hungry for a pastor like Ron–someone who will help us fulfill the Great Commission in Lexington, in Kentucky, and in the world. We need help and we need healing. My heart also hurts for your church because it is painful when God calls your beloved pastor to a new place. Please know that I've been praying for Grace Community Church and will continue to do so. God has great things in store for both our churches.

      • Hi Jennifer!
        I'm sure ya'll have yeard him online and probably in person when he visited, and read his blogs. Ya'll will love having him and Cheryl there. I'll have to adjust my prayers now, haha, from the teensy church I envisioned. I dont know why I thought that, its funny how you talk to someone on the phone and you picture them in your head and then you meet them….and you thought they were a tall brunette and they are a short little blonde or whatever. :-)
        Probably b/c the little town I grew up in, that is what little 100 yr old churches looked like! haha.
        I'm sure God will use him well there, and bring healing and new members to your congregation.

    • It appears right now that my last Sunday at Grace will be June 3rd. I may still be around after that some, but probably not on a Sunday. We are going to take some time off for rest and to prepare. Thanks Ashley.

      • I come back June 23rd, so I probably won't see you guys before you leave. If your new church has podcasts online, let me know and I'll be sure to listen in! Blessings!

  19. I’m excited for the next step in this ministry God has given you, Ron. I’m praying for Grace, Immanuel, Cheryl and you in this transition.
    Twitter: bobbalkcom