A Possible Solution for Pathway One

I, who am an elder myself, appeal to the church elders among you. I am a witness of Christ’s sufferings, and I will share in the glory that will be revealed. I appeal to you to be shepherds of the flock that God gave you and to take care of it willingly, as God wants you to, and not unwillingly. Do your work, not for mere pay, but from a real desire to serve.

(1 Peter 5:1-2) Good News Translation

This is submitted in response to the quarterly report which was circulated at Wake Forest Baptist Church on Sunday, April 24, 2022.

Firstly, it’s a delight to see such a well prepared report. I served as de-facto Assistant Pastor at Open Door Baptist Church for about 5 years and never saw a report like this. It’s clear evidence of a well run church, and of a congregation who collectively understand accountability. Wake Forest Baptist Church is a church worth fighting for.

Unfortunately the financial part of the report indicates that we’re heading towards the edge of a cliff, and unless a miracle happens there is little hope to avoid taking Pathway 4. Not that merging with another church (Pathway 4) is a bad option, but a transition like that wouldn’t be seem-less and we’d inevitably loose some of the flock. Not only that but Wake Forest University is a rich and diverse community which would be weakened by the loss of the church.

Without wanting to dwell to heavily on details of the finances, the single largest expense in the budget is the Pastor’s salary. If that wasn’t a factor the Church would be able to meet its obligations which should include paying rent to WFU.

Below you will see an excerpt from a biography of George Müller of Bristol in which he explains his rationale for why, in certain circumstances, a pastor doesn’t need a salary.


Excerpt from George Müller of Bristol and his Witness to a Prayer-Hearing God

by Arthur T. Pierson (1899)

Conscientious misgivings, about the same time, ripened into settled convictions that he could no longer, upon the same principle of obedience to the word of God, consent to receive any stated salary as a minister of Christ. For this latter position, which so influenced his life, he assigns the following grounds, which are here stated as showing the basis of his life-long attitude:

  1. A stated salary implies a fixed sum, which cannot well be paid without a fixed income through pew-rentals or some like source of revenue. This seemed plainly at war with the teaching of the Spirit of God in James 2:1-6, since the poor brother cannot afford as good sittings as the rich, thus introducing into church assemblies invidious distinctions and respect of persons, and so encouraging the caste spirit.
  2. A fixed pew-rental may at times become, even to the willing disciple, a burden. He who would gladly contribute to a pastor’s support, if allowed to do so according to his ability and at his own convenience, might be oppressed by the demand to pay a stated sum at a stated time. Circumstances so change that one who has the same cheerful mind as before may be unable to give as formerly, and thus be subjected to painful embarrassment and humiliation if constrained to give a fixed sum.
  3. The whole system tends to the bondage of the servant of Christ. One must be unusually faithful and intrepid if he feels no temptation to keep back or in some degree modify his message in order to please men, when he remembers that the very parties, most open to rebuke and most liable to offense, are perhaps the main contributors to his salary.

George Müller went on to lead the building of a large orphanage in Bristol, UK, which housed, clothed, fed and gave basic education to thousands of children who were orphaned in British cities in the Nineteenth Century.

Why is this relevant?

Over the last 20+ years, since first reading through the Bible in 1998, I’ve generated a body of work which resolves the Bible with Physics, Chemistry and Biology. It’s a unified theory of everything: first cause (the origin of the universe), time, gravitation, electromagnetism (a unified field theory), consciousness and redemption. It removes any perceived barrier between intellectual academic pursuits and contemplative spiritual life.

The work is formatted as a daily devotional with each month of the year being a different major subject area. It’s highly technical in nature and it’s taken a lifetime to assemble, but it may be crafted to suit any educational level. It also includes the nascent beginnings of a children’s teaching program based around comic-book super hero type characters (Sophia Proton, Kat Ion, Neinstein etc.).

Why Did God Create the Universe?

  1. January – The first day
  2. February – The second day
  3. March – The third day
  4. April – The fourth day
  5. May – The fifth day
  6. June – The sixth day
  7. July – The fall of man
  8. August – Noah’s flood
  9. September – Pangaea
  10. October – Principia Mattymatica
    • A grand synthesis of the work arranged as a parody of Sir Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica
  11. November – The lifting up of Jerusalem and the Millennial Kingdom
  12. December – New Heavens and a New Earth

I’ve had little success and limited opportunity to discuss this material with church folk, and recently a complete communication breakdown with a Pastoral team (Redemption Hill Church), but if anyone can handle it it should be the students in the WFU School of Divinity.

Part of this work is a podcast which includes recordings of sermons that I preached while at Open Door Baptist Church. Most notable is the sermon ”Contention so Sharp” in which I warn the church at large of the danger of maintaining an antagonistic stance towards the LGBTQIA+ community. Ironically I’ve been ostracized from the church because I “aligned” myself with LGBTQIA+ although truthfully I blundered into it, it wasn’t intentional. One of the better sermons of which I’m thankful to have a recording of is “On the Road to Damascus.”

All of this work is freely available on my blog, Matty’s Paradigm (mattysparadigm.org).

With that said, I have no formal Pastoral training but I have served in a variety of ways in churches since I was saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ in July 1997. My ”Churchography” is included below.

Churchography

  • Lystra Road Baptist Church, Chapel Hill, NC
    • 1998-1999
    • Attendee
    • Choir
    • Baptized
  • University Presbyterian Church, Chapel Hill, NC
    • 1999-2000
    • Employed as Custodian
    • Attendee
    • Choir
  • The Chapel of the Cross Episcopal Parish, Chapel Hill, NC
    • 2000-2002
    • Employed as Facilities Manager
    • Attendee
    • Choir
  • Calvary Baptist Church, Carrboro, NC
    • 2000-2008
    • Groundskeeper, General Maintenance
    • Attendee
    • Choir
    • Itinerant Ministries (preaching and music)
      • Willow Springs Rehabilitation Center, Carrboro, NC
      • Arbor Acres Rehabilitation Center, Chapel Hill, NC
      • Alamance Rehabilitation Center, Graham, NC
  • Mount Moriah Baptist Church, Durham, NC
    • 2009-2011
    • Liaison for Htee Moo (Living Water) Karen Baptist Church
    • Attendee
    • Floor Care Manager, General Maintenance
    • Sunday School Teacher
  • Hillside Church, Chapel Hill, NC
    • 2011-2013
    • Attendee
    • 2 Mission trips to Kombolcha, Ethiopia
  • Wake Forest Baptist Church, Winston-Salem, NC
    • 2013-2015
    • Attendee
  • Open Door Baptist Church, Winston-Salem, NC
    • 2015-2019
    • Attendee
    • Sunday School Teacher
    • Worship Leader
    • Choir Director
    • Assistant Pastor
    • Itinerant Ministries (preaching and music)
      • Danby House, Winston-Salem, NC
  • Two Cities Church, Winston-Salem, NC
    • 2019-2020 (COVID)
    • Attendee
  • Redemption Hill Church, Winston-Salem, NC
    • 2020-2021
    • Attendee
    • First Impressions volunteer (parking)

Taking all of the above into account, I humbly submit myself as a candidate for Pastor of Wake Forest Baptist Church on the condition that I receive no fixed salary. I believe that there’s a Biblical basis for making this offer (1 Peter 5:1-2) and I present the life and work of George Müller of Bristol as an example of why it’s appropriate.

Respectfully submitted to Rayce Lamb, Interim Pastor Wake Forest Baptist Church, for consideration by the Dream Team.

Yours sincerely,

Matthew Lawrence

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