Learn to Partner

How one church, working with community groups, is making a big difference in a small town.

Six months into my new pastorate, I was stumped. In June 2004, my wife and I had moved to Chatham, Virginia, for me to become the eighteenth pastor of the historic Chatham Baptist Church.

The search process had taken three years, and the church had almost given up on finding an experienced pastor to lead them in a new direction. One search committee member sighed, "When we told prospective pastors we were a small church in a small town they quickly lost interest in talking with us."

But Debbie and I felt called to Chatham, and I thought, "I've led every church I have pastored to grow, this should be easy." But six months later, I sat stumped.

Small town life is different. It wasn't that we disliked living in Chatham, with its Norman Rockwell charm, tree-lined streets, grand old houses, and historic buildings. We did like it.

To top it off, we were living in the house of our dreams, an old 1897 Victorian situated on Chatham's bustling Main Street. Folks befriended us both in the church and ...

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