An induction to look forward to
Why a ‘looking forward’ article? If your church is without a pastor, may this account encourage you to persevere in prayer and recognise the Lord’s sovereignty and loving care of his people.
In 2006, after 27 years in the ministry at Howeth Road Evangelical Church, Bournemouth, Pastor Robert Edwards told his flock that he planned to retire in February 2008; they should start praying for a new under-shepherd.
To this end, he taught through a series of Bible studies the biblical requirements for a minister of God’s Word. The search began, but, before the date was reached, Pastor Edwards was unable to continue preaching due to ill health.
The search gained momentum, with preachers coming from as far afield as Birmingham and South Africa. Tim Shenton, who was the headmaster of a local Christian school and an elder at Lansdowne Baptist Church, also agreed to fill the pulpit from time to time.
On such occasions he would take a series over several Sundays, recognising that in our situation we needed some consecutive teaching. He continued to minister to us in this way over a period of about two years. As well as his school responsibilities, he was continuing with his book writing. He already had twenty books published.
Several in the church recognised his preaching gifts and he was asked if he would consider becoming our pastor. He said, ‘No’! While he was very willing to help us out, he did not feel called to be a pastor.
But over the following months some members claimed the promise from Proverbs 21:1: ‘The king’s heart [or even that of a potential pastor!] is in the hand of the Lord’.
Not only did the Lord change Tim’s mind, he caused him to be drawn to us as a congregation. Tim suggested that the best way forward for us all was a trial period of 10 months, to test if this was really of the Lord.
The school now has a new head, Mr Shenton’s books have stopped flowing, and he is giving himself to preaching and pastoring, with the aim that we should be a people of the Book, and of prayer and love.
Now we are rejoicing in the prospect of the ordination and induction of Tim Shenton as our pastor on 5 February.