Returning from Sabbatical

As I return from sabbatical, there are three brief thoughts that I’d like to share:

First, I return ready. I’m excited about what’s ahead for us at Mountain Creek, both in the near future and in the long term. Over the next two Sundays, you’ll begin to hear what God has been doing in my heart during my sabbatical. This coming Sunday, I’ll wrap up our Summer Psalms series by preaching a message from Psalm 42 and 43 on the importance of preaching God’s truth to yourself. Then, beginning on Sunday, August 14th, we’ll begin a long study through the book of Hebrews. I’ve spent considerable time studying this book over the past month, and I’m eager to see how God will use his promises and truths in this powerful letter to encourage us and strengthen us to be a people who are firmly anchored in Christ.

In addition to our Sunday morning sermons, I am excited about several other things coming soon at Mountain Creek. Over the next few months we have a team ready to travel to Boston to serve with King’s Hill Church as well as a family mission trip to Myrtle Beach in the works for mid-October. Our Wednesday night activities will begin soon, with Counter Culture resuming in mid-August and MC Kids and our Core Classes all starting back on Wednesday, September 7th. I’ve also been praying for our Life Groups and am looking forward to not only being back with the group that I lead, but also resuming our monthly huddle meetings for our group leaders. And there’s still more! My heart is full, and I’m ready to walk forward into the future that God has for us at Mountain Creek!

Also, I return grateful. I’m so thankful for the opportunity that you all blessed me and my family with by giving us this sabbatical. I’m grateful for Pastor Matt’s leadership and service while I was away, picking up extra responsibilities and continuing to lead our body forward. I’m grateful for God’s faithfulness to our congregation and our church family. While I know that there have been challenges faced by some families—some exceedingly difficult, some that are ongoing—I believe that we’re seeing God’s faithfulness in helping us walk forward together in faith.

In particular, I’m so grateful for the church’s response in coming alongside Daniel and Hannah Taylor with prayer and support. This continued response is evidence of God’s grace at work among us at Mountain Creek, and is one of his means of strengthening his body and showing his love to the community around us. Let’s keeping walking with them and with others in need around us. The importance of the community of God’s people is a major theme in the book of Hebrews, and I’m grateful to see it being lived out (once again) here at Mountain Creek.

Finally, I return humbled. God has given me a particular calling to serve as pastor of Mountain Creek Baptist Church. I have been reminded again from Hebrews 13, verses 7 and 17, that part of my God-given task is to “keep watch over your souls” and that the primary way that I am to do that is by leading by my way of life and living out the faith, and by faithfully teaching God’s word (see Hebrews 13:7). Additionally, verse 17 looms large in my heart: this calling is one for which I will one day “have to give an account” before the Lord. It is a humbling thought. I cannot fulfill the ministry God has given me except by his power at work in me, which is exactly what he promises all of us in Hebrews 13:21. So I would join with the author of Hebrews and simply ask you, brothers and sisters, to continue to pray for me. Thank you for your prayers over this past decade, thank you for your prayers over the course of my sabbatical, and thank you in advance for your continued prayers as I continue to pastor here at Mountain Creek, and as we continue to follow Jesus together.

Bert Watts has served since December 2016 as the Senior Pastor at Mountain Creek Baptist Church, where he has been on staff since 2012.