Conversations with ATX Leaders: Mark Westerfield & Keith Ferguson
Have you ever asked yourself, “Can churches actually work together?” Join us for a challenging conversation about what it looks like to be the Church with an uppercase “C”. Joined by Mark Westerfield of Central Baptist Church and Keith Ferguson of CityView Church we get a glimpse into the work God is doing in Round Rock, Texas.
“There is one church, just different expressions,” shares Mark as he and Keith reflect on their Love the Rock project developed over seven years ago. Now with over 65% of Round Rock churches participate, this group looks to make “unity tangible as we love on our community.” Committed to work on local racial reconciliation, serving area school districts and city council, Mark and Keith inspire us to envision our city with cross-denomination cooperation.
More similar in practice to a school system than a chain of retail stores, as churches look to reopen, the safety procedures many stores have put in place are simply not practical for most congregations. Smaller churches are feeling more freedom and a greater ability to gather sooner, which larger congregations continue to navigate in a sea of ever evolving information and suggested guidelines. With a wide spectrum of how church members will feel, from leaning toward conspiracy theory angles to a fearing a reality of never gathering again, pastors are called to continue to lead and be a responsible agent for change.
“It can feel like we are on a rain delay, like a ball game on hold due to potential rain,” remarks Mark. Postponed baptisms, weddings, memorial services all compile to create a unique season of pastoral care. Pastors and family members are often unable to be with sick or dying loved ones, and many high school seniors are grieving the loss of their culminating celebrations. “Grief is important, and the Christian expression of grief is lament, which is a turning to God in grief,” remarks Keith, reminding us that this time of change and loss needs to “end with an expression of confidence in God in the mist of grief… You don’t want to skip over the grieving process” but you do want to get to “that opportune moment that gives us hope,” Keith reminds us, “Everybody needs extra grace right now.”
Maintaining a spirit of encouragement, Keith and Mark share how they have seen the church challenged during COVID-19, being spurred along in areas of complacency, creativity and outreach. “People are going to have their spiritual eyes and ears open like never before.” comments Mark as he challenges us to practice the art of neighboring. “Anybody can act like a Christian, but do you react as a Christian.” Don’t miss another great conversation as we listen and learn from this dynamic spiritual leaders in our community.