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Elder Q&A 2023 Recap

Elder Q&A 2023 Recap

On November 12, we hosted our fifth annual Elders Q&A. We host these evenings becauase we love one another. Asking and answering questions is natural to any relationship of love and trust. We have plenty of both and we mean to keep it. Thank you for your thoughtful questions and your interest in our church’s good.  

Read our invitation post for some more specifics on our aims and process heading into the event.



On this memorable evneing we engaged questions about the Sabbath and the Lord’s Day, about our philsophy of biblical counsling, how we go about praying for God’s global purpose among the nations, and everything in between.

Here’s a list of the questions we asked with the timestamps for the audio. We encourage you to listen to the entire Q&A for context and the spirit of the evening.

Introductory (0:00)

Introductions (2:12)

Overview of elder administrative team and responsibilities (7:05)

The Lord’s Day with the Lord’s People (9:14)

  • What is the Elders’ interpretation of the Sabbath? Do we keep the Sabbath now? How does that relate to Sunday worship? And if God commands Sabbath rest, then what do we do about so many moms rolling into Monday frazzled and dads fatigued after a day of church activities? I’m confused about how to balance God’s command for Sabbath rest and the need to be physically rested for the week ahead. (9:41)

  • What advice would you offer to introverts in the church? (17:50)

  • What night do the Elders meet and have you thought about putting it on the church calendar so that we as a church can be praying for you? (23:46)

Counseling One Another (24:47)

  • What is our philosophy of Biblical counseling? (25:11)

  • Talk about Biblical Counseling now and down the road—the state of Biblical counseling from a programmatic and staff member perspective. (28:54)

  • Are mental health issues sinful? (33:17)

  • Elder trivia (35:09)

Shepherding Together (38:12)

  • What is an elder-led congregational church? (38:22)

  • What is the difference between elders and pastors? (41:12)

  • What is the difference between a director role and an elder role? (44:44)

  • What changes are upcoming for how elders work together and lead our church? (47:30)

  • Elder trivia (54:01)

Our Times and Our Task (55:07)

  • What have the elders been studying lately as a group? (55:15)

  • Carl Trueman, in his book Strange New World, claims that the LGBGTQ+ movement is the most successful political movement of our age. What does Trueman mean by that? (57:07)

  • Define expressive individualism and why does it have a problem with religion today? (58:13)

  • How do we expose our kids to global missions? (59:56)

Open Mic (1:04:29)

  • On the Order of Worship today it had a passage above it that said adapted from Ecclesiastes. Why don’t we just read the real Bible passage instead of putting it into our words? (1:04:29)

  • What are the requirements regarding the timeframe for elder sabbaticals? (1:05:38)

  • Why aren’t our missionaries listed on our website and is there a way that we can make all of our missionaries a little more visible? (1:07:24)

  • Do I understand that when I hear the elders voted, it is all 14 of you rather than just the 11? (1:13:03)

  • In a world where truth can be anything that you set it to be, how do we evangelize people with God’s authority being the ultimate truth? (1:14:54)

  • What are the elders thanking God for? (1:17:17)

  • What are the elders asking God to do? (1:20:06)

  • Dinner instructions and closing prayer (1:21:59)

As promised, if you submitted a question and we didn’t answer it at the Q&A, we’ll be in touch in the coming weeks to initiate a reply either over email or in person. Of course, as questions come to mind across the year, you can always just email us at This event is not the only venue for engaging our elders with a question. Rather, it is an especially public forum that we hope to set the tone and invite your engagement in more personal ways across the year.

For more Q&A engagement of this sort, review our recaps from previous years: 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022.

Welcoming Jim Knauss to the Staff Team

Welcoming Jim Knauss to the Staff Team

This past spring we launched a search for a new role on our team, the Director of Discipleship and Theological Development, and shared the vision for this role in a blog, “A New Pastoral Role and A Vision for Deep Discipleship and Pastor Training.”

This past Sunday our elders were pleased to announce Jim Knauss as our man for this role. Jim has been a member at Heritage for a few years and interned with us a year ago now. He’s been teaching electives, showing hospitality, and discipling among our flock. In so many ways, he’s been doing the job in miniature.

Let’s get to know Jim. I’ve asked him a few questions here to help you get better acquainted with him, his family, and his story. The interview that follows builds on a previous blog that you should read first: “Meet Our Fall Intern: Jim Knauss.”


Jim, you were an intern with us back in 2022. At that time, we interviewed you on this blog to learn about your family, your salvation story, how you got to Heritage, and your vocational aspirations. We’ll get to the story of the last year. But let’s begin with this question: why is Hannah kicking you out of the office at home?

Hannah wants me out so that my books have a place to go besides the entrance of our home! Every time I go to a conference with the church or start a new seminary course, the first question she normally asks is, “How many books did you bring home?” It is slightly concerning how eager both my wife and children are to get me out of the house to make use of their new space….

In all seriousness, we look forward to a 4-minute commute to the church and being able to see each other a lot more than we do now.

We posted this job for the Director of Discipleship and Theological Development last spring. You spent thirteen years in Active Duty in the Airforce. Two years ago, you retired from the military and transitioned to be a pilot with FedEx. What’s the story behind your interest in this role and decision not only to change vocations but to give your life for the foreseeable future to the saints at Heritage?

The Lord’s road for me to pursue this role has been unconventional to say the least. I had been following the Lord for some time and was maturing in my faith in my young adult life. In my church at my first duty station in Wichita Falls, TX, the pastor noticed that I had a gift to teach others. He plugged me into the college ministry and that’s where Hannah and I found great community and joy serving Christ’s church. Each time we moved, we plugged into the college and young adult ministries teaching and leading. When I started designing curriculum for our college ministry in Valdosta, GA, I knew my knowledge level was lacking. I decided to pursue seminary utilizing the education benefits the Air Force provided at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Eight years of one class per semester, and I finished with my M.Div. last May.

In that time, Abe Stratton (whose shoes I will never be able to fill) acted as my Ministry Supervisor during my last semester. During this Applied Ministry course at Southern, the professor usually likes to see you preaching, teaching, and leading. However, we had just moved here, and Hannah and I weren’t even members yet! Abe invested in me and created a program where I would write elective curriculum and teach alongside him to fulfill my ministry hours. During this time, I found a passion for serving the church that was new and invigorating. I began to look forward to my meetings with him as we talked over my work. With the Lord’s grace, I now had the training and experience, but didn’t know how the Lord was going to use the tools he had given me.

Then Trent approached me about our church’s pastoral internship. Just when I thought I was done for a bit reading books and writing papers, the next 12 weeks found me reading a book a week and writing 600 words on each one. Thinking this would be too much, too soon after seminary, I instead realized the joy I had working with Abe was directly transferred to working with Trent. We had great discussions, and I was able to interact with the elders in a “behind-the-scenes” way. After watching our leaders operate, I knew I wanted to serve Christ’s church in that way. I began searching out ways to become involved in more opportunities. I volunteered to teach every elective cycle, lead a shepherding group with my sweet wife, and completed the preaching cohort with Trent along with some other brothers. The Lord had aligned so many steps, but there still wasn’t a clear focus on what vocational ministry would look like for me. I looked into joining the Air Force Reserve Chaplaincy Corps, but several issues arose in that process. I knew the Lord wasn’t leading me to just any vocational ministry job; he was leading me to the right vocational ministry job. He was leading me somewhere that my gifts, his provision, and his preparation all aligned.

When the church posted the description for this position, it was everything I had always wanted to do in ministry. It described expanding and structuring our elective ministry; a ministry that I had worked so hard on with Abe and one I’ve had the privilege to serve in so joyfully at our church. It involved teaching, mentoring, and discipling. It described pouring into young men looking to follow the same path I’m following now. I am a product of the church’s discipleship ministry and this job would afford me the opportunity to expand that legacy. Namely, the job gave some brother the opportunity to lead. Looking back on the process, I am so thankful for the people God has placed into my life and the opportunities he’s afforded me. I certainly don’t deserve them. I pray God would use me in this job to serve the saints at Heritage with the purpose of bringing him glory.

This role is focused on two areas. First, the church’s discipling ministries through teaching with a focus on electives. Second, building on and building out our elders’ dreams for pastor training. What excites you about both of those areas of responsibility?

Before getting into the specifics of what you’ve asked, the excitement around this job for me carries with it the aspect of leading again. As a military officer, I received extensive leadership training and was able to employ my specific leadership style in a wide variety of contexts. I’ve had the opportunity to lead dozens of civilian, officer, and enlisted personnel throughout my career. The last few years have been great in settling our family down and providing a wonderful community. For me, however, it has been devoid of an ability to lead. I look forward to submitting to the godly leadership of those who have been in vocational ministry as I navigate leading in this new context.

With that, I’ve been thrilled to serve in the electives ministry since showing up here at Heritage. Whether it’s in a cockpit, pulpit, classroom, homeschool room, or elective class, teaching is a passion of mine, and I’m grateful the Lord has prepared and equipped me to do it. However, I’ve witnessed in our own church men who are much better teachers than I! I look forward to learning from them and sharpening my own skills as a teacher.

There is an aspect of this job that is encouraging: our church has an overwhelming abundance of men who can preach and teach God’s Word faithfully, joyfully, and competently. Better yet, I know there are men who can teach who are not fulfilling that role yet. Part of the vision for this role is identifying these men and bringing them through a process to firmly establish them as teachers in our elective hour.

My vision for our church’s Christian education does not contain “fixing things that ain’t broke.” We have a good thing going with electives, and I’ve been privileged to be a part of that ministry. There are some things, however, I believe we can add to make our electives more robust. I have plans to structure our education in a certain way so that there is better continuity and coherence between classes. If that sounds vague, it is! Two reasons for the ambiguity at this point: 1) it is not all fleshed out yet. I wouldn’t dare present something that is “half-cooked” and 2) it would take more words than I’m guessing people would be willing to read to lay out the things some of the elders and myself have batted around thus far. I look forward to learning from other churches that have done this well and working with the elders to sharpen, structure, and broaden our Christian education at Heritage.

I can’t leave my excitement for the job without talking about how we are going to deepen our commitment to pastoral training. As I explained already, I have been the direct beneficiary of several programs at our church in preparing me for this role. My joy will be taking these aspects of our ministry and coalescing them under one effort to identify and train future vocational pastors. Several items will go into this, but something new we may look into is partnering with seminaries to develop a pastoral training curriculum. This will help us learn from many who have gone before us and also might result in our pastoral interns and residents earning seminary credit hours! We have so many faithful brothers serving our church, and I look forward to combining several efforts to train future ministers for the gospel!

Our mission at the church is to spread the unsearchable riches of Christ broader in the world and deeper in the church. It will be an immense joy to contribute in this role to broadly training our congregation through Christian education and specifically training brothers for future pastoral ministry.

This transition involves not only you but your whole family. Bring us into the changes you’re leading your family through and how we can pray for you.

The family changes for this job are mostly good and certainly provide blessings we know the Lord has provided. We will eat more family dinners together and just spend more time as a family. I’ll be free to coach baseball teams and pick the kids up from school. Hannah just may get too used to seeing me more than she ever has before.

There are some things we know will be different.

Hannah and I have talked about the fact that my time and attention may need to be “diverted” on short notice if there is something occurring in the life of one of the saints at our church. This is not necessarily new. As a member of the armed forces, I could be deployed on only 3-days’ notice. This uncertainty, however, is something we haven’t had to worry about in a few years. Our last 3 years in the Air Force I was a non-deployable Test Pilot, and we have been with FedEx for the last 2.5 years. Although this is something we know will happen, we can think of no better way to serve Christ’s church than to serve the people in our local body whom we have laughed with, cried with, confessed our sins to, and have come to love as brothers and sisters in the Lord.

We would love prayers for wisdom and discernment as we take on not just a vocational change, but a different operation in our normal routines. Pray that we enjoy our new time that our family has together. Pray for steadfastness and endurance if things don’t transpire exactly as we planned (which is almost guaranteed to happen…). Finally, please pray that we take the ways the Lord has prepared us and use his gifts to serve the saints in our church to his glory.

I know many of you reading this have been praying for us for a long time now. Thank you so much for your prayers. We look forward to serving in this role for the long-term and pray God will keep us faithful in the way we do so.

Finally, why should we be thankful for the A-10? Is it better or worse than the F-22 (ahem!)? Also, what was your call sign and how did you get it? Anything else that would be of intrigue, please share.

In designing combat aircraft, the jet is designed and then weapons are added to it. The A-10 is the only combat aircraft where a weapon was designed to fly. Landing on the moon was a pretty significant American achievement, but only in the A-10 did we successfully design a 30 MM GAU-8 Gatling Gun to fly! This makes it superior to any aircraft you want to name including, yes, the F-22.

Naming a pilot is a significant event and stays with a pilot not only his whole career, but essentially his whole life. Some of my best friends in the world do not know my actual first name, and I would be hard-pressed to remember theirs. My tactical flying call sign was “Hook”. In the squadron, Hannah and I were “Hook and Hannah.” I got my call sign because I was a designated survivor in a combat search and rescue (CSAR) training mission and was unfortunately given a radio that was not assembled. The radio was known as the “Hook 112” because it had a giant antenna that had a significant curve at the end. In my best efforts, I assembled the radio incorrectly and my friend “hooked” his ride because he couldn’t get a hold of me. When a pilot “hooks” a ride, he fails it and has to do over again (all the planning, coordination, briefing, flying and debriefing). When it was made known I was to blame, the squadron gave me the call sign “Hook.” It was also expedient that my first name is James and upon pinning on Captain, I became “Captain James Hook.”

I enjoy using my Air Force experience to draw up illustrations when I preach and teach. If you’ve been with me in my “Mortification of Sin” elective class, you are in for a treat in week 3. The military was good to our family and God used it to bring us here. We are grateful for our time there and now look forward to serving Christ and his kingdom.

Any Questions? Join Us at Our Annual Elder Q&A

Any Questions? Join Us at Our Annual Elder Q&A

Questions are good and normal and needed. In any meaningful relationship, we ask questions to get clarity for any number of reasons: so that we don’t make assumptions, so that we can be helpful in our life and work together, and so that we may reason together when that’s needed.

Our relationship—elders and congregation—is not so different in that respect. We love one another and mean to work well together for our shared mission. So, let’s engage in a little Q&A, hosted this year on Sunday, November 12, at 4:30 p.m.

What’s the Purpose of This Q&A?

Here’s an important clarification we make each year: this event is not in response to a crisis. This event is not for the airing of opinions. Don’t worry if you’re new around here and scared of an event like this. This is not one of our more embarrassing evenings in a year, but one of our most encouraging evenings.

God’s charge to elders is to be prepared to apply and proclaim the Holy Word in season and out of season (2 Tim. 4:2). It reminds them of their charge to cherish Christ so much that they can answer with Christ at any time (1 Pet. 3:15). It also gives individual elders an opportunity to minister to everyone all at once (1 Pet. 5:2).

In bullet points here is why we host this evening each year:

  • To promote a culture of openness and vulnerability.
  • To model healthy question asking and answering.
  • To enhance our elders’ unity and insight into the ministry.
  • To clarify any ambiguities or gaps in our leadership for our members.
  • To instruct in biblical eldership and increase the visibility for our team.
  • To update the congregation on any timely projects or studies we’ve been working on.

We’ll plan for an hour and fifteen minutes.

Get Us Your Questions by September 30

If you have a question—think doctrine, church life, plans for our shared mission, etc.—you can get it to us in a variety of ways. Include your name with your questions so we can follow up if that’s needed.

  • Text. Text your question to 864.735.7465.
  • Email. Email your question to
  • Write. Grab a Connection Card on Sunday, scratch out your question, and drop that in an offering box.
  • Form. Submit a question here.
  • Tell. Communicate your question for the Q&A to an elder in person or through email. They’ll ask you to write it down so that we don’t lose your intent in translation, but you’re welcome to start with a conversation.

We’ll also have some time available in the evening to answer questions from you in a more impromptu.

As a help in this process, aim to submit your questions by the close of September, September 30. This lead time helps us notice recurring themes, know how to devote time to particular questions, discuss any topics as a team if needed, and order our time in a way that best serves the congregation. We’ll certainly consider any questions that come in after that date.

As a reminder, we won’t be able to answer every question that gets asked. However, if you put your name on a question and we did not answer it at the Q&A, we will reach out to answer that question for you in person or by email. In some cases, we may devote a blog-post to the topic.

Before the Q&A, get acquainted with Heritage’s elders at the About Page. Also, here’s the recap from 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022 for those that couldn’t join us in previous years.

Meet Chris Groat

Meet Chris Groat

I am eager to introduce you to a brother in Christ who has become a good friend to me and to our church. His name is Chris Groat, our new worship director. On behalf of our elders, Jason updated our church family last Sunday in our service and by email about the process we’ve been through over the last few years and what we have learned.

With those points of process out of the way, meet Chris. I’ve asked him a few questions here to help you get acquainted with him, his family, and his story.


Chris, thanks for answering a few questions for us. This will help us welcome you and love your family as you transition here. We’ll get to your ministry background shortly. But first, tell us about yourself, about your wife Hannah, and your family.

Greetings from Mississippi! We are excited to be joining you all very soon. I am 31 years old (on August 16), and I have been happily married to my beautiful wife Hannah for nine years. We are high school sweethearts who met in youth group. We both attended William Carey University where I studied Church Music and Hannah studied Nursing. We have a daughter named Sadie who will turn 2 in November, and Hannah is pregnant with our second (due in January). Hannah is a registered nurse but is planning to stay home full-time with our children. God has been so good to us.

A natural follow-up, tell us how you came to faith in Christ and who the Lord used to bring you to himself.

I came to faith as a freshman in high school. We didn’t attend church growing up, and it wasn’t until my parents divorced that I really started to attend church regularly. When I was in the 8th grade, I started attending youth group and got pretty involved. I was saved at a high school retreat where I heard a clear and convicting gospel presentation. I remember growing up believing in God and thinking that’s all it took to go to heaven. That day hearing the gospel it all made sense: I was a sinner in desperate need of a savior. I needed the blood and righteousness of Christ. I needed to submit to Jesus as Lord. I don’t even remember who that preacher was, but thankfully I was heavily discipled by my youth pastor and I’m eternally grateful for his shepherding and encouragement.

Tell us your background as a musician and as a pastor.

I have been making music since I was in 7th grade. Around my sophomore year of high school, I decided to join the worship team in my youth group after my dad bribed me with a new guitar. I started out as just the guitar player, but when our main vocalist left for college, my youth pastor challenged me to lead worship and direct the team. I tried to decline, but he wouldn’t take no for an answer (he literally assembled a microphone stand in front of me and stuck a mic in my face). I am grateful for his persistence because by age 16 I was our youth group worship leader, a role that fostered a desire to serve our Lord in vocational ministry. That led me to enroll at William Carey to study Church Music. Since graduating college in 2014, I have had the privilege to serve a few different churches as their worship pastor along the way.

Now, bringing us to our new relationship with you, what led you to apply for this role at our church?

Around 2019, a godly minister began mentoring me and that relationship led to a noticeable shift in my theology, philosophy of worship, church, etc. My mentor handed me a book called Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, by Donald Whitney, and challenged me to read the Bible in a year. Through the regular and thoughtful reading of Scripture, I began to see God’s sovereignty and glory on full display. I soon thereafter discovered Reformed theology through books/sermons from the likes of John Piper and R.C. Sproul, as well as diving deep into church history and the Reformation.  The more I was growing theologically and philosophically, it became clear that I needed to be at a church that shared these same values. In August of 2022, my wife sent me a link to a job posting at Heritage Bible Church. I can’t explain how much joy it brought me when I read the job description.

It seemed that the Lord was answering our prayers. I mean that in several ways. First, this was the kind of church we would want to join for its handling of the Scriptures and for its care in living and leading by the Scriptures. You can only tell so much from a website and a job posting, but your care in describing the church and the role was compelling to us. Second, the philosophy of worship and of the role of music in supporting the congregation’s voice was a match to my growing convictions. I’ve led in different ways in different places—three dear churches whom I have loved—but I have a settled direction theologically and Heritage was the match I did not expect to find.

Since we met you about one year ago now, we’ve had all kinds of interactions. What began with a Zoom call led to more conversations and eventually a few visits. Tell us about what you learned about Heritage in that process and why you’re excited to come!

I’ve had the privilege of visiting Heritage twice. I came for an initial visit in January where I got to workshop with a part of the music team. Then, in May, I came for a more focused interview weekend. Pretty early on we realized this was a place we could call home. During our first rehearsal, the music team was not only well-prepared, skillful, and receptive to feedback, but it was obvious they loved their church and each other very well. Then we got to visit a service on Sunday morning, and I was blown away by the volume of the singing! Heritage is a singing church! Praise God for that. I had listened to multiple sermons throughout my interview process, but there is nothing quite like being in the room. I’m excited to be in the room every Sunday with you.

Another thing that encouraged me and my wife was the Family Meeting on the Sunday night of our first trip. We were warmly greeted by many of you, not even knowing our purpose for being in town. You took an interest in us and we grew in affection for you. We have been praying for a church family. We felt like a part of the family without even being members. That’s special!

Our second trip in May was more tactical. I had another rehearsal with part of the music team, but this time it was leading up to a Hymn Sing. I got to spend more time with Deanna Moore and Brian Burch and was encouraged by their partnership. Over the course of the weekend, I had several interviews with the rest of the staff and elders. One thing is for sure, the staff and elders love this church and work tirelessly to pray, lead, and care for you. It was deeply encouraging to see that behind the scenes. I came away from the weekend knowing that Heritage was a church I’d be happy to attend even if I wasn’t in full-time vocational ministry.

The cherry on top was how quickly Trent became a friend and a dear brother to me. I was not only excited to work with him, but also to be pastored by him.

For these reasons and more, Heritage was growing to be the long-term fit we’ve been praying about.

What are some of the most important principles involved in designing a worship service?

First of all, I’m excited to work with Trent in designing our services. One thing I have loved learning about Heritage is the extreme care and intentionality that goes into the service design. The songs, prayers, Scriptures, readings, and sermons are all formed by the Word of God for the edification of the congregation.

Liturgy is a word we sometimes use for the shape or design of a worship service. Liturgy simply means “a public way of doing things.” In other words, liturgy is what a church does in corporate worship. Heritage has a very intentional, yet sneaky liturgy, as you call it. Meaning, you won’t always hear “and now our call to worship” or “now we will confess our sins together.” Yet, week after week the aim is to create Christ-centered worship services with calls to worship, confessions of sin, assurances of pardon, prayers of illumination, and thoughtful responses to the Word of God preached. Every week you will get the full gospel story through songs, Scripture readings, prayers, sermons, and the ordinances.

Since the gatherings at Heritage are not only formed by the Word of God but filled by that very Word, we will read the Word, pray the Word, preach the Word, sing the Word, and see the Word (through Lord’s Supper and baptism). God cares about how we worship and provides instruction to us through his Word on how we are to worship him. (This is called “the regulative principle”, and essentially means that we will worship God as he has commanded us by his Word, for our good and his glory.)

Moving from theology to music, in searching for you, we were searching for a singing shepherd who could help our musicians lead our church in singing her faith. What is your understanding of the role of music in the church’s gathering?

Music is vital in the church’s gathering in so far as we are not only believers in the glorious gospel but singers of that good news. This news is so good, we must sing! Music helps us make melody in our hearts to God (Eph. 5:19). We were created to worship God and bring him glory. And there’s nothing better than worshipping God together in the context of the local church. In the Bible, there are over 50 direct commands to sing and singing is mentioned over 400 times. God takes singing pretty seriously!

The Apostle Paul commands us: “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Col 3:16). Our songs should be theologically accurate as well as singable. Because we want our voices to be the primary instrument in our Sunday gathering, this will determine which songs we choose, how they’re arranged, and even which keys we sing them in. Singing is a wonderful tool that helps the church to celebrate Christ’s finished work on the cross, allows us to adequately express a heart grieved by sin, gives us hope for this life and the next, and enables us to joyfully adore our Triune God together. I praise God that we get to gather each Lord’s Day and sing together.

Anytime we add a new musician to our team there’s some musical change that comes with that as there are new sounds and textures in our music, even if they are subtle. In that respect, our music is always changing and we’re a church that is glad to be stretched. To our ear, you fit us. You love our songs, you have a voice and a way of playing that is easy to follow. One brother at that trial-run Hymn Sing said, “I came prepared to adjust, but no adjustment was needed!” Be encouraged! Nevertheless, the addition of a new lead vocalist and musical leader will mean a degree of musical change. Which is why we were looking not only for a capable musician who would love our church well but a man who can lead well. How will you approach transitioning into your role musically?

Well, let me start by pointing out that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the way it is now. You guys aren’t bringing me in to start things from scratch. As you have said, this is not a transition for musical transformation.

The musicians and vocal leaders are doing a fantastic job leading the church in worship. Deanna is an exceptionally talented musician and has led the team incredibly well. I am humbled to join this team with these loving and talented individuals.

I will bring a slightly different flavor since I lead with an acoustic guitar. You have been led by an acoustic before for seasons but not regularly and not lately. So that will seem new. But the priority of congregational singing will remain the same. Having an acoustic guitar will give us more options with how we produce musical arrangements. All this to say, Heritage will over time cultivate our own unique sound. That will take time and it will come as we work together as musicians and grow in love for one another and in shared musical vision for how we can enhance and support the congregation’s voice with simplicity and beauty.

In all this, I pray the music is never a distraction from the gospel truths we will be singing together. The music is an aid that points us to Jesus and helps us to sing our faith. As Bob Kauflin says in Worship Matters, “Our varied skills should function like the frame around a classic painting. If the frame is too bold or extravagant, we’ll hardly notice the picture it displays. On the other hand, if the frame is cheap, shabby, or marred, we’ll wonder why such a masterpiece is surrounded by junk. The right frame complements the picture in all the right ways, directing our eyes to the brilliance of the artist, not to the frame.” Trent, you yourself have explained service design as the setting for the glorious diamond that is Jesus Christ.

So while we aim for undistracted excellence in our music and our liturgy is certainly intentional, our eyes should always be gazing upon the glory of Christ more so than the actual music, musicians, and arrangements.

That’s about all for now! You can get back to packing and trying to sell your home so you can get here to us. But one final question: how can we serve you in this transition? We want to be good hosts and a loving church family for your dear family. Help us do that well.

As you have already mentioned, please pray for us as we work through selling our home, pack up, and begin the moving process. It’s daunting and hard work. Especially with a toddler and Hannah being pregnant. We are counting down the days until we are with you all! Having shared this news with the leadership at my church, we have now shared with that blessed congregation. As things have worked out, we expect to pull in by the end of the month. I won’t be leading with the team from the front for a handful of weeks. Your leaders want us to settle in to our home and to the church. I’m also eager to worship with you for a time before leading among you.

I am confident you all will welcome us warmly with open arms into this church family. So, when we get there, don’t be a stranger! I can’t wait to meet you all and worship together very soon.


I hope you get the sense for how warmly Chris will fit with us, not only musically and theologically but relationally. That’s no small part of what we prayed for and found in this brother. I can speak for myself and our elders, we are jealous for you and for your good. We pray the addition of Chris to our team will enhance our life together in Christ. Chris will be a director, not an elder, though his role is intended to mature into that of an elder/pastor in the years ahead, similar to Kevin Delp’s role (Kevin, overseeing children’s ministry, is an elder/pastor now), or Matt Jackson, our student and family ministry director. All in due course.

We hope you’ve grown to like Chris, the man. Now, what is it like for Chris to lead us in singing?

Here are a few videos I took on my phone during Chris’ visits with us. One is from a Hymn Sing we hosted with Chris with a crossection of the church to see how Chris handles our room and our voice. Present were elders, deacons, Shepherding Group leaders, staff, and their families.

Parental Discipline With A Destination

Parental Discipline With A Destination

Editorial Comment: Read a more developed version of this piece at Christ Over All: “Talking To Our Children About Discipline.”


There is more to parenting than discipline and there is more to say about discipline than we explored last Sunday. Nevertheless, discipline in the home is of profound importance for our children’s earthly and heavenly good. It is God’s prescribed means to both and we neglect it to the peril of our children.

To that end, here is a recap of Sunday’s sermon, “A Father’s Discipline,” from Hebrews 12:3–17 with some resources for your help and encouragement.

The Word on Discipline

Sunday’s sermon was not about discipline in the home. Rather, Sunday’s words about discipline in the home were about the Lord’s discipline of his children. The author of Hebrews simply assumes that this is our common experience, a means of understanding the Lord’s ways with his people. Nevertheless, this is an important opportunity to ruminate on the nature and importance of discipline in our homes.

To that end, here’s an outline of Sunday’s sermon tilted in the direction of help for parents with paragraph pep-talks based on the work we did together in that sermon.

I. Discipline is not for everyone (12:5–8)

Discipline is an immense privilege. When God disciplines us, we’re told, “God is treating you as sons” (12:7). Discipline says something to our children: you are mine! It is a form of proof. Others may feed and shelter my kids for a time, but no one else will discipline them according to God’s Word (Prov. 13:24; 22:15; etc.). It says more than that they belong to us but that they are dearly loved by us. Discipline is not a form of rejection but a means of receiving our children by which they know they belong to us and to our families. For this reason, while discipline may instill fear in our children, we should not discipline from wrath. Rather, we should discipline from a controlled determination to love our children to maturity through discipline that is both corrective and formative.

In all of this, in the home as God designed it to be, the father takes primary responsibility. Both mother and father will discipline and should do so on the same page, but it is the father’s authority that stands behind the mother, for he is the head of his home. Discipline, let us remember, is not the first thing about parenting. It must be paired with and typically preceded by instruction. Neither is discipline the last thing about parenting, for it is not the goal. Rather, both instruction and discipline are for the sake of our relationship, just as our Father in heaven disciplines us so that we may know and enjoy him. Let us give discipline to our children and then let us give ourselves to them as the reward for that hardship.

II. Discipline is for our good (12:9–10)

Discipline is not only a privilege, but it is productive. When God disciplines us, “he disciplines us for our good” (12:10). That’s what we’re after just the same: the best interests of our children. Godly discipline in the home leads our children not only to respect authority in general, but to respect us as parents. More than respect, discipline in the home leads to fruit of peace in our homes—peace between us and our children, between our children and one another, and we pray between our children and the Lord. We do not save our children pain in the truest sense by forgoing discipline for whining, as an example, only to yell at them in disgust when we’re fed up. Discipline leads to peace. This is true even when our parenting is less than perfect. In fact, the text acknowledges this when it says of our parents, “they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them” (12:10). This clause indicates a measure of flexibility in our parenting, as we consider our children, our marriages, and the circumstances. Let us for this reason help one another without judging one another. We will each stand before God for our parenting, not for one another’s parenting—a help to friends and grandparents alike.

Equally, though, this clause nods to our fallibility (in contrast to God’s perfection). Our work of parenting is never co-extensive with God’s Word on parenting. Our timing, consistency, temperature, proportionality, and motivations are often off the mark. Let us labor tirelessly for our children’s good in each respect, but let us do so acknowledging that our practice is never as good as the principles we’re implementing. Understanding this brings a humility that saves our children from many forms of tyranny and allows us to grow and change so we get better for their sake. We are doing God’s work, but we are not gods. That’s good for this preacher and imperfect parent to hear as one who had to stand up recently and talk about parenting. As much as anyone, we need the Lord to bless our parenting more than we deserve. Marvelously, God uses our best and yet imperfect discipline for our children’s good.

III. Discipline is only for a moment (12:11)

Finally, discipline is periodic in nature. It is painful, yes, or else it is not discipline. Think about that, parents. Maybe love pats don’t work because they aren’t really discipline. Maybe inconsistency leads our children to bet on the possibility that we will let them off and in that way weakens their reflex for obedience. Discipline is painful and that’s God’s design. But, thankfully for everyone’s sake, if it is appropriately painful it need only be for a moment. On this matter of timing, it’s also important to note that the season in which parents can shape their children through discipline is short.

Thankfully, though, when discipline is over, our children are better for it. Not only better for this world but better for the next. While discipline is for the moment, by way of analogy with how the Lord works with his children, the experience of godly discipline in the home is a means of training our children to know their heavenly Father in heaven. Discipline wires their moral sensibilities, sensitizes their consciences, and provides a real-life model of how the Lord relates to them. Discipline is for the moment, and in this way it is also for forever.

Some Words on Discipline

I am not an avid reader of parenting books. I am an avid scanner and rummager through parenting books. Most of our parenting in our home has come like most yours: by way of a few Bible verses, constant conversation as a couple, and timely counsel from friends in church. Let’s make sure we’re talking together, sharing notes and strategies, and promoting faithfulness to all the Bible says.

Nevertheless, here are some resources I’ve found helpful over the years. Cherry pick what to read or listen to and when. Cherry pick what you plan to keep and implement.

Gracious Grief

If I have done anything in this post, I hope I have disabused us of the notion that discipline in the home is contrary to grace that’s good for heaven. If discipline is from hatred or interested in externals alone, then it most certainly is. But in that case it is also not discipline as the Bible understands it.

No, discipline is for our good—our earthly good and our heavenly good. Let us give ourselves to it. And let us give ourselves wholly to our children.

You pray for me and I’ll pray for you.