by Paul Gilbert
Is there someone in your life that God has used in a really important, timely way to help you? Maybe it was a family member who was there by your hospital bed or a friend who walked alongside of you in a time of crisis. Whoever it was, I bet God did something really unique in your relationship with that person. Some of the deepest bonds of friendship are forged during some of the deepest times of need. We never forget those people that God uses to “rescue” us.
In our study of Acts, we met such a man last week, Barnabas ("Son of Encouragement"), whom God used in incredibly timely ways to encourage the early church. Barnabas was the guy the apostles sent to Antioch to help stabilize and build up the fledgling Gentile church, and he was also the man who trekked up to Tarsus to take a man named Paul (the Apostle!) under his wing. We all need a Barnabas – or 2 or 3 – in our lives!
There has been such a Son of Encouragement in the life of Four Oaks over the last two years: Daniel Montgomery. Daniel is the Lead Pastor at Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, KY. He has been married to his wife Mandy for 16 years, has four children (Elijah, Stella, Levi, and Georgia), and is a man God brought into the life of Four Oaks Church at a really critical moment.
We were introduced to Daniel by Luke Skeen, a former Four Oakster and FSU Navigator director who had gone off to attend Southern Seminary in Louisville and be an intern at Sojourn Church. Luke arranged for Daniel to come speak at the Four Oaks Men’s Retreat in February of 2013, and it was there in Panama City Beach (at the infamous Laguna Beach Retreat Center no less), that God did a great work of providential grace.
Four Oaks was going through a very difficult leadership transition at the time, and Daniel was able to sit down and counsel/encourage/advise our pastoral team for a whole weekend. Sojourn Church is the sort of church that Four Oaks wants to model itself after, as they have four campuses, operate from a team model, have a vision for the city, and connect with people through a deep theology with relevant, heart engagement.
Two of the things (but there are many!) that happened over that weekend continue to bear fruit: (1) Daniel introduced us to a man, Dave Harvey, whom he thought would be a great fit for what Four Oaks was looking for – someone who could preach, develop leaders, and be a great complement to a young pastoral team. And, (2) Daniel introduced us to the Sojourn Network, a family of churches that are united around a mission and vision of helping pastors plant, grow, and multiply healthy churches. This emerging partnership with the Sojourn Network is one that has already greatly benefited Four Oaks in the form of pastoral relationships, models of ministry, training, resources, and multi-site organization and planning.
Daniel will be in Tallahassee over the next four days as one of our keynote speakers at the Of First Importance Conference (www.oficonference.com) a gathering of area pastors and ministry leaders that Four Oaks will be hosting this weekend with Wildwood, St. Peters, and City Church. We are also privileged to have Daniel with us this Sunday, as he will be preaching at both the 9AM and 11 AM services at the Killearn Campus. As we come to church Sunday and hear from Daniel, let’s be sure to thank God not only for Daniel and Sojourn Church, but for all the other Barnabas’ in our lives as well.