Today I joined the pastoral team of our home church, Fairview Church, located in the greater Nashville area. I’m very excited to join the team as Fairview’s new Associate Pastor for Teaching and Mission. Fairview is an incredible church that loves Jesus and their community; who preaches the gospel well and who is committed to advancing the mission around the world. What’s more, I get to serve with one of my best friends, Dr. Jon Akin, who is doing an exceptional job leading Fairview as our Senior Pastor, and who encourages and challenges me regularly. In my new role I will be part of the preaching team, I will help oversee our mission partnerships, give leadership to our Community Group ministry and I will help lead our theological training initiative, EQUIP. Invariably, as people hear that this new venture is upon us, they ask two questions:
1. Are you leaving LifeWay? No. LifeWay loves the local church and gives me freedom to serve in this capacity. I’m thankful that a good number of LifeWay employees serve area churches in paid and unpaid positions of service.
2. Why would you do this, in addition to working at LifeWay? This is also a great question. Allow me a couple of minutes to outline three major reasons why this matters to me.
I believe in the priority of the local church.
I am convinced that the local church is the locus of God’s kingdom on earth. The reason I came to work for LifeWay is due to God opening a door, and my belief that I could have a great opportunity to serve the church. However, LifeWay, and our other SBC entities, are not God’s primary vehicle for taking the gospel to the world, the local church is. I love my role at LifeWay but one of our stipulations upon coming was that we needed the freedom to serve the local church. I’m grateful to serve under men like Dr. Thom Rainer and Ed Stetzer who love LifeWay, but also love the local church and encourage a commitment to her.
I believe in the role of the bi-vocational pastor.
I have served as a bivocational pastor for the majority of my vocational ministry. I believe strongly in the importance of bivocational pastors, and I believe that their importance is only going to increase in the coming years. I am thankful for the opportunity to serve intentionally as a bivocational pastor at Fairview. I am grateful that LifeWay provides a sufficient income to provide for my family so that I can work bivocationally at Fairview, and not need to receive any compensation from our church. I hope we see a growing wave of pastors who will embrace intentional bivocational ministry.
I believe in the responsibility of membership.
Finally, I believe that membership in a church matters, and membership assumes a responsibility to work in any way needed to advance the mission at the local church. Our church has provided for me the opportunity to serve in an official pastoral role, and I want to faithfully serve this place where God has allowed our family to become a part of. I pray that the Fries family are good members, and members who honor Fairview, and most of all, who honor King Jesus.