By Carl Stagner
Southridge Church is a thriving Church of God congregation nestled in South Charleston, West Virginia. On Easter Sunday, they rejoiced to welcome over 700 for worship, an all-time high. Already this year, the church has celebrated the baptism of 20 believers. Eighteen months ago, small-group participation had declined to about 60; since then, the number of participants has topped 200. Outreach into a women’s recovery center has brought more than 150 additional guests, many of whom have since been saved and baptized. A strong partnership with an elementary school has helped the church make major strides in the advancement of the kingdom, even as the school permitted the church to host an Easter egg hunt for students during the school day! Lead executive pastor Michael Coker and lead teaching pastor Scott Beha are thrilled to be a part of Southridge during such an exciting time in the church’s history. But Scott wouldn’t have been there to experience it firsthand, except for a series of unexpected journeys that also helped him find a God-ordained niche in teaching and blogging.
“I am in my eighth year of ministry at Southridge Church,” Scott explains. “I was hired in 2011 to be the middle school director. I was quickly shifted into the youth director role and then ultimately to youth pastor. I did youth ministry for about two years, but felt God calling me to switch directions and work with adults. The church leadership was very gracious to me and began to train me to work with adults, transitioning to associate pastor for two years.”
Twists and turns describe Scott’s ministry journey well, but constant and faithful describe the God he serves. So, before he could get too comfortable, God began awakening a passion for teaching and preaching deep within, signaling possibly yet another shift. “I felt God changing my direction again, and this time he was leading me to a role to be able to preach consistently to adults as a lead pastor.”
The problem was they already had a lead pastor. Of course, that wasn’t really a problem—they had a great lead pastor. But, it posed a problem if Scott and his family were to remain at Southridge. When facing difficult decisions, God’s people have historically turned to a season of fasting and prayer. That’s what Scott chose to do, too.
“My wife and I began to look at some different opportunities, but none of them were right for us. I told my senior pastor that I would continue in my role until the fall. I decided to spend forty days praying and fasting about this decision but began to get discouraged when it didn’t seem like the Lord was answering my prayers and telling me what my next steps were. I finally got to Day 40 and I was determined I would continue the fast until the Lord spoke and, sure enough, on Day 40, he whispered to my spirit, ‘Stay.’”
Of course, God’s answer confused Scott, since the Lord had also revealed the kind of role that was next for him. Only two months later, however, the lead pastor announced that God had called him to a new role, as well, even to a new location. Then the church threw another factor into the equation: they wanted to try a new model of ministry leadership—Michael Coker as lead executive pastor and Scott as lead teaching pastor. That was just what the Doctor ordered. “This was a great decision on behalf of our church leadership,” Scott reflects, “and the church has been blessed greatly by this. Michael and I are both able to lead the church with the specific gifts the Lord has given each of us.”
There was another unexpected journey in all of this—into the blogosphere, to be specific. The former lead pastor had started the church’s blog as a discipleship tool for the church. Scott and Michael started sharing the responsibility of keeping it going but, over time, the blog became Scott’s responsibility. Little did he know the blog would be such an important creative way for him to process, communicate, and be changed himself by, truths of the gospel. “I loved writing when I was growing up and still remember writing stories as a kid in elementary school,” Scott explains. “I have really enjoyed having an additional outlet to really disciple people, but also to allow God to continue to develop certain ideas that he has laid on my heart.”
Among Scott’s creative posts, several were a part of series like “You Might Be a Pharisee If…” and “Why You Shouldn’t Read the Bible” (because you might actually be challenged in your faith!), as well as those with other intriguing titles like “Theological Wrestling Matches” and “Thoughts, Prayers and Good Vibes.” Readers of CHOGnews may enjoy these works of wit and wisdom; consider searching for such titles and more to digest at your leisure by visiting http://www.southridge.org/weeklyword.
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