John Piper Preaches 'Farewell Sermon' at Bethlehem Baptist Church
John Piper has preached his last sermon as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church.
"It's the end of an era — the era of Piper as local-church pastor — but God willing, just the beginning of a new season of ministry," wrote David Mathis in a DesiringGod.org blog post. "It has been extraordinary to watch a people once seemingly reticent to let go of their beloved, long-time pastor become the happy commissioners of Piper into a new season of life and ministry."
Mathis explained that Piper "now plans to invest his writing and speaking energies mainly as founder and teacher of desiringGod.org, as well as continuing as chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminary."
Justin Taylor offered a thoughtful preview of Piper's last sermon, based on Hebrews 13:20-21:
Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
"Piper will undoubtedly remind his beloved flock that the transition from one undershepherd to another is undergirded by a dying and rising Great Shepherd who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow," wrote Taylor.
CT: You said Wednesday night that the diversity of leadership in your church isn't going to get any better under your tenure as pastor. It was just announced that the Rev. Jason Meyer will replace you in about a year at Bethlehem Bible Church. Is racial reconciliation part of his value system and was it a consideration in the choice to call him?
JP: Was it ever talked about! This is a huge issue for our church. The way we've put it is that in looking for staff, we haven't made it an absolute criterion that X number or percentage has to be ethnically diverse. We just said we will try the ten-fold very hard in looking for people who are racially diverse, or really get it, or are really committed. Jason has two black children for starters. He's committed. He pastored a church in Louisiana that was racist to the core. When they called him, he said, "We will not maintain this." He led that church through some really remarkable [change]. He was a chaplain at a southern Louisiana college. He has had Southern racial experience and has proved himself committed there. So, even though he's white and even though he's taking up a church that's mainly white, I have a lot of confidence that Jason's commitment is as high as mine and that he'll be more fruitful than I am because he's more relational than I am. That's the big plus for Jason. When I think of Jason, I think he's more of a man of prayer than I am, I think he's more discipleship oriented, I think he's more relational. He's going to have more lunches with people. Bethlehem is going to love this guy for all the reasons they have problems with me.