…And be thankful.
“Thank you!” Those words seem too small to adequately communicate my thankfulness to Woodmont Baptist Church for allowing me to serve for the last five years as senior pastor. This church has been so gracious to me. As I look back over my ministry as both a student pastor and now as senior pastor, I can remember all the times I have failed you more than I can remember the times the Lord allowed me to succeed. Yet, by the grace of God, you all have treated the Hess family with such love, patience, and grace. You have been a great encouragement to me! You inspire me to learn, to grow, to pray, to stretch, to have joy, to keep going forward, and to never give up!
Out of all the blessings in my life, being able to serve as your pastor will be a highlight. Many do not know this, but as the Lord was calling me to this role, I fought him. Finally, like Jacob, I surrendered after wrestling with the Lord. I shared with Janna how the Lord was leading. She immediately asked if she could talk to a pastor that was not named Chad Hess. Over the next few days and weeks, we met with Dr. John Brock, pastor at Highland, and Dr. Eddy Garner. She feared that we would take this step and Woodmont would vote against me serving as pastor; then we would both awkwardly exit the worship center in the most difficult walk of our lives. Both men served us well in those days and they continue to encourage us along the path on which God has called us to serve. Janna and I prayerfully sought the Lord and sought wise counsel. We knew that we would never love a church like we love Woodmont, and nobody would love us like Woodmont. You have proved us right! You have loved us in tremendous ways. The Lord has used each of you to confirm the Lord’s calling in our lives.
The last five years have been a whirlwind, but the most graceful, significant, and awe-inspiring whirlwind. The Lord has been so faithful to lead this church, to provide for this church, and to minister to the body at this church. I have wept in my office in seeing the Lord move. In my times of prayer, I have witnessed God answer the prayer in the moment the words are leaving my lips. I have learned so much from you. In your times of grief, joy, sufferings, pain, blessing, favor, and in your times of trust without knowing how things would work out – I have learned from the incredible faith, unity, and perseverance of the members at Woodmont.
May the testimony be that God is faithful. May the testimony be that God is good. May He receive all the glory – for He is doing great things! I love God because He first loved me. I love Woodmont, as Woodmont first loved me. Thank you for being a church that has shown me Jesus. Every day I have the honor of serving this body of believers is a gift from the Lord. Paul said it best,
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Chad, Janna, Stone, and Hollis Hess