A Letter from Lon Solomon
February 12, 2017
My Dear Church Family,
I came to MBC as your Senior Pastor in August 1980 as a 32-year-old man (by 5 days). I only passed the congregational vote on me by 3 votes, but I came anyway, more sure that Jesus had called me here than I was of my own name. Over the last 36 1/2 years, that certainty has never left me for an instant, which is why I stayed even through some very difficult days, both as a pastor and a person. It has been one of the greatest honors of my life to serve as your Senior Pastor for these past 36 years. I am so proud of our church family at MBC, and I am so proud to tell people around the globe that I have had the privilege of serving as "the Senior Pastor of MBC."
In these 36 years, God has showered our church family with amazing mercy, and displayed His omnipotence before us in some of the most awesome ways I've ever seen or heard of. People always ask me why God has been this way to MBC. Of course, I cannot answer a question like this, for it is totally above my pay-grade to speculate regarding why Almighty God chooses to do what He does. He is sovereign. That is all I ever say to people. But if I had to guess at some concrete reasons why, I would say it was because (1) we have sought to be a church that obeys Jesus in everything; (2) we have sought to be a church that, in Jesus' name, cares for and about the "least of these" (Matthew 25:40), including especially children and adults with disabilities, the poor, the needy, and the disenfranchised; (3), we have sought to be a church that proclaims the truth of God's Word without compromise or equivocation, even when those truths are not popular in our culture; and (4), we have sought to be a church that humbles itself before Jesus, and seeks to make decisions, not based on human logic alone, but also based on prayer and seeking the face of God.
And it is my dream and hope for MBC that these (and similar) spiritual tenets will always form the foundation of our church family.
Several years ago, Pastor John Piper wrote to his people at Bethlehem Baptist Church and said: "I am less competent leading Bethlehem structurally and organizationally than I used to be. For about 30 years, I was usually able to see through the complexities and formulate feasible and exciting plans...This is no longer the case. Bethlehem is more complex than it used to be, and my energies and abilities for this kind of organizational planning are diminished."
When I read this, I knew precisely what Pastor Piper was trying to say: namely, that he was tired.
My dear brethren, over the last 36 1/2 years, I have sought, as unto the Lord, to give MBC every ounce of strength in my body. I would not go back and change one iota of this! But I am tired. Not tired of walking with Christ, not tired of praying and reading God's Word, not tired of sharing Christ with people, and not tired of preaching the Word. I am tired of trying to run the demanding operations of our large and complex church. And I am concerned that, if I am too proud to admit and confront this, I will end up hurting the very church family that I love so much. MBC needs a Senior Pastor who can be fully-engaged in every level of leading our church!
So, after grieving this, I went to our elders and told them that God had shown me that it was time for MBC to trust God's leading and begin searching for our next God-appointed Senior Pastor. I told them that I would like to be the most supportive and helpful person imaginable in seeing MBC make this transition smoothly and biblically. And I told them they could count on me to work with them, to make this transition the most Christ-honoring process possible, and to make it a model for other mega-churches who will be facing this same transition in their futures.
And so, for the last year, your elders and I have been working together to establish a plan that, by God's grace, will achieve these goals. And we believe that we have been able to lay out a plan that is both pleasing to the Lord and practicable for our church family.
I spoke to our church family this past weekend (Feb 11/12) and began to unpack this plan for all of us. If you missed this message, I want to urge you to go to our website and listen to it. It is massively important that everyone fully understand the plan ahead of us as a church family.
And, Lord willing, I'll be speaking part 2 this coming weekend (Feb 18/19), laying out this plan again and in more detail.
But please let me mention a couple of the key points from last weekend:
1. I am not resigning from the staff of MBC. I am stepping back from the full and comprehensive organizational duties of Senior Pastor to devote more time and energy to Acts 6:4 in the role of Senior Teaching Pastor and I will continue to serve as a member of our Board of Elders.
2. David Platt will be joining me in preaching at MBC. Assisting us will be Dale Sutherland, Mike Kelsey, and (as always) an occasional special guest speaker here and there.
3. Pastor Dale Sutherland (in concert with me and the rest of our elders, of course) will continue leading the daily ministry of MBC along with our senior staff team (as he has been for the last year). Dale is a seasoned man of God. His heart and my heart beat like one for Christ, and he enjoys my highest confidence and esteem.
4. The elders and I are beginning NOW the process of seeking the next God-appointed Senior Pastor for MBC. At present, we have no active candidates for this position, nor are we currently in contact with anyone who is aspiring to this position. We are prayerfully trusting the Holy Spirit to guide us to just the right man, and him to us. And, of course, please remember that any candidate will have to go through the approval process that is carefully laid out in our church constitution, including receiving a 75% affirmative vote from the membership of MBC.
Furthermore, please let me say that Brenda and I and Jill have no plans to leave MBC (until the Lord takes us to heaven)! This has been "our church" for 36 years, and we intend for it to remain as such. So, on the weeks that I am in town but not preaching, please look for me in the front rows, raising my hands in worship, doing my giving in the offering bag, and sitting expectantly at the feet of whoever is teaching God's Word that day.
I know that you may have some questions that may not have been answered in this past weekend's sermon or in this letter, and the elders and I want to make sure this whole process is characterized by as much openness and clarity as possible. And so, we will be having a "town meeting" this coming week (THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 16--IN THE SMITH CENTER AT TYSONS AT 7:30PM), where the elders and I will delight in meeting with you and trying to answer all questions that we possibly can.
As you can imagine, we as your leaders deeply covet your prayer support throughout this entire process. IN FACT, WE ARE BEGINNING "40 DAYS OF PRAYER" AND SEEKING THE FACE OF GOD AT MBC (just like we did in 2016) AND WANT EVERYONE IN OUR CHURCH FAMILY TO BE AN ACTIVE PART (learn more: mcleanbible.org/40daysofprayer).
We are certain that God has already appointed a man to step into this role, just as He did Elisha for Elijah. And like Elisha, we are trusting the Lord to send us a man who will have a "double portion" (2 Kings 2:9) of the anointing the Lord was pleased to give to me--a man who can take MBC further for Christ's Glory than God used me to do.
These are exciting days for MBC, and I ask you to join in the excitement and expectation I feel every day, as I wait to see what our great Savior has ahead for our church family.
Sincerely as your Senior Teaching Pastor,