Today is exciting for our team at Emmanuel! When God brought my family to Connecticut six years ago, we were coming out of a battle with cancer, and were entering a difficult season of church revitalization. My health and the church’s health were both in a state of real question marks.
At that time, I had two God-given ministry dreams. First, I asked God to restore Emmanuel to Gospel-centered health. Second, I asked God, somehow in the future, to let me encourage and equip pastors and future spiritual leaders. I said to my wife, “For the rest of my life, I dream of helping our church be healthy and helping other leaders cultivate Gospel-health in themselves and their churches.” I had no idea if God would answer either of those prayers.
Today, each Sunday we worship Jesus with a flourishing church family of passionate, new followers of Jesus. We marvel at and cherish the friendships and family that God has forged at Emmanuel. We pray now that God will continue to sustain and grow the spiritual vitality and health that He has cultivated.
Also, today our team officially launches In the Gospel. Right now, In the Gospel is simple—a landing page, a podcast to edify spiritual leaders (Leading in the Gospel), and a couple of small events to equip and encourage spiritual leaders (In the Gospel Weekend). We’ve worked on this offering of encouragement and engagement for some time, and we are glad to finally begin.
In the Gospel is in the Lord’s hands, and I’ve talked myself “out of it” about 200 times. (You know, the typical, “What do I have to offer? Who would care? Why would I want the criticism?” line of thinking.) But God wouldn’t let me let it go.
Over time, we hope to develop this resource to focus on growing leaders in a Gospel-shaped leadership style, cultivating spiritual health in churches, and advancing the Gospel through strategic church development and revitalization. Personally, I simply want to connect leaders, build friendships, and do everything I can to speak encouragement and edification into the next generation of those leading in the Gospel.
In every generation for more than 2,000 years of church history, God’s Spirit has raised up a generation of Bible-believing, Gospel-loving leaders who preach Christ, love His sheep, and advance His mission forward. I’m glad to be a part of this generation—21st-century Christianity—and I’m glad to be surrounded by grace-driven, love-motivated, Gospel-shaped friends and mentors (older and younger) who have spoken profoundly into my life as friends and collaborative co-laborers with Jesus. These influencers have cheered me on, prayed with me through deep valleys, opened up with me regarding personal challenges, counseled me through perilous moments, and have become energizing, life-giving, servant-hearted leadership models. They don’t only declare the Gospel, they display it. They model to me what it looks like to lead like Jesus.
As you follow the podcast or attend the events, you will hear from and get to know these men, and many other friends. You will connect with many who deeply long to lead healthy personal lives, develop a Gospel-shaped leadership style, live faithfully and fruitfully in ministry, and cultivate healthy, biblical church cultures where Jesus and His Gospel are set free to change lives.
I invite you to join the conversation! As we grow on this journey, grow with us! Speak into our lives. Speak into the lives of those who will track along with the podcast or events.
First, consider subscribing to, sharing, and reviewing the podcast. The first official episode is live today with a shorter bonus “toolbox” episode coming later this week. Also, the previously released preview episode introduces the concept and direction.
Second, engage in the conversation personally. Email us or connect with us with comments, insight, questions, or topics for a future podcast. We will thank you and love hearing from you!
Third, pass on the conversation. Take the subject matter into your own leadership environments. Use what you hear to train, teach, or develop others in whatever context God has placed you.
Fourth, be a part of the Leading in the Gospel Weekend, Nov. 29–Dec. 1, 2018, with Kurt Skelly and Scott Tewell here at Emmanuel Baptist Church. You can find more details here. We are capping this event at 100 to keep it personal and engaging, so it’s important that you reserve your spot soon.
Fifth, let me know personally if you would be interested in attending a future developmental event for senior pastors and their wives. ([email protected])
In the coming days you will enjoy some great interviews on the podcast! As the conversation develops, let us hear from you and help us shape the subject matter in a way that will equip and encourage you. We can’t wait to see how God will cultivate new friendships and spiritual health through these connections.
On a personal note, every week of my life some pastor from some part of the country says to me, “Cary, I don’t have many friends and I don’t feel like I fit in anywhere.” Since so many leaders have said this to me, I’m hoping those misfits will be able to meet each other and cherish some new friendships that share similar ministry perspectives, values, or passions. If that is the only result of In the Gospel, then I will be thankful for how God does that work.
There is no presumption in our team regarding these efforts—no agenda or political motive and no assumption that any of it will be successful. That’s up to God. We make no pretense of having exclusive answers or having cracked some ministry code. We merely want to connect with and encourage other Gospel-loving leaders who long to cultivate spiritual health in themselves and in their churches.
We hope you will join the conversation today!