Update 4/24: My Future at Desiring God.
Bethlehem Baptist is one step closer to commissioning John Piper from the local church pastorate to greater involvement with Bethlehem College and Seminary and to a wider ministry nationally and internationally through Desiring God.
The Bethlehem elders are announcing to the congregation their candidate for Associate Pastor for Preaching and Vision and, God willing, John Piper's eventual successor as the church's senior pastor.
Jason Meyer, 36-year-old Assistant Professor of New Testament for Bethlehem College and Seminary, is the elders' recommendation for congregational consideration and vote at a special May 20 all-church meeting. Meyer is scheduled to preach three consecutive weekends — April 29, May 6, and May 13 — and answer questions in several venues before the May 20 decision. With approval and confirmation, he would begin the position August 1 and overlap with Piper at Bethlehem for a yet-to-be-specified period of time. Then there would be a "second vote" to affirm Meyer's transition to the role of senior pastor and commission Piper to the wider ministry.
This new development is one of the ongoing effects of Bethlehem's "Antioch Moment," announced by Piper less than a year ago. On April 9, 2011, Piper called the church to six weeks of focused prayer regarding his succession and the church's structure and long-term funding. Meyer's candidacy is a major piece in addressing these difficult questions posed during this important season in the life of the church.
"Setting Apart" Piper for Wider Ministry
One effect of such a transition is that the church is "setting apart" Piper (to use the language of Acts 13:2 and the "Antioch Moment") from the heavy demands of pastoring a large multi-site church for more engagement in wider ministry through writing and speaking. Piper is anticipating that his involvement with Bethlehem College and Seminary and his broader ministry nationally and internationally will not decrease after the transition, but increase, perhaps considerably. Piper writes to the congregation,
There is an ever-increasing pull on my life to be involved in ministry outside Bethlehem. Much of this feels strategic to me for the cause of Christ. While I felt competent and energized to formulate plans for the structures of Bethlehem, this outside pull was secondary. But I sense that this is changing. It seems to me that the Lord is saying: "You have led Bethlehem to this point; it is time to hand off the internal leadership labors to another; I have a few other things yet for you to do."
Writing has always been a calling. But it has been secondary to preaching at Bethlehem and to internal leadership at this church. . . . As my years go by I realize that there are writing projects that I think God wants me to finish. This adds to the pull I feel away from the demands of internal leadership at Bethlehem.
At this time, Piper is unsure precisely how his post-pastorate life will be proportioned. Once the transition is complete at Bethlehem, he and his wife Noël plan to spend some extended time away to consider the most strategic use of their next ten years, God willing, and for Piper to make headway on a few writing projects.
In general I can say that, if God gives me life and health, these years will involve my role as Chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminary, and my role as founder and teacher for Desiring God. I love to teach seminary students, and I love to encourage and strengthen the God-centered, Christ-exalting, Bible-saturated vision of pastors. And I love to write. So some configuration of those loves is what I expect to see.
My life's calling remains the same: I exist to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ. Pray that I will spend and be spent for this till I can speak and write no more.
(For Piper's full explanation, see his letter to the congregation of questions and answers surrounding the transition.)
Introducing Jason Meyer
Meyer joined the faculty of Bethlehem College and Seminary in the Fall of 2010, bringing a wide range of teaching, writing, preaching, missions, and pastoral experience. He authored a book on the difference between the old covenant and the new covenant in the apostle Paul's letters, titled The End of the Law: Mosaic Covenant in Pauline Theology (B&H Academic, 2009) and is presently writing Preaching: A Biblical Theology (Crossway, 2013).
Prior to coming to Bethlehem, Meyer was the Dean of Chapel and Assistant Professor of New Testament and Greek at Louisiana College in Pineville, Louisiana, from 2006–2009. He taught New Testament for the Spring 2010 semester in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at the Evangelical Theological College. Previously, he served as the pastor of Orville Baptist Church while completing a doctorate in New Testament at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.
Originally from South Dakota, Meyer studied at Bethlehem from 1999–2001 with The Bethlehem Institute (TBI), now Bethlehem College and Seminary (BCS). At BCS, Meyer has provided oversight in the area of New Testament and taught for the seminary in his areas of specialization: Paul's epistles and theology, the Law and the New Testament, preaching, biblical theology, and Greek language.
Jason and his wife, Cara, have two daughters (Gracie and Allie), and two sons adopted from Ethiopia (David and Jonathan).
Please join us at Desiring God and Bethlehem in praying for God's leading in this process, and for Jason Meyer and John Piper in particular at this crucial juncture in their ministries.