My New Place of Ministry

Sam Rainer

June 11, 2012

Yesterday I announced to my church a new season of ministry. Erin and I have accepted the call to Stevens Street Baptist Church in Cookeville, TN. We are excited, but the transition is bittersweet. We leave behind many good friends in Murray. I’m being sent from a great church with a heart for missions to another great congregation passionate about God’s global mandate to reach the lost. I was blessed to serve in Murray. I am now blessed to serve in Cookeville. Below is a letter that I wrote to my church. I am posting it publically on my blog as a way of thanking many people in Murray who have offered my family encouragement and support.


FBC Family:

 This transition is bittersweet for me. As most of you know, I announced on Sunday a new season of ministry for my family in Cookeville, TN. I am saddened to inform you my time as senior pastor of FBC Murray is coming to a close. I love what God has accomplished during my tenure at FBC Murray. I love the people—a church that works hard for gospel fruit. I know my departure will not hinder the work here.

 Selfishly, I must admit my time here has personally benefitted me. Both FBC and the Murray community have taught me several life lessons.

 I’ve learned how to be a dad. I become a dad here. Murray will always be special to me for that reason. Maggie will always be from Murray. She was born in the local hospital, and we all know that means she is connected here for life. Some of you have helped raise her. You are like grandparents to her. Not only did I become a dad here, I learned how to be a dad. I saw what godly fatherhood looks like. I’ve been surrounded by men who modeled for me what I’m supposed to do as a father. I was watching and learning. I’ll be a better dad because of Murray.

 I’ve learned how to live in a small town. It’s no small accomplishment for this city boy. All pastors live a public life. A pastor in a small town is under a particularly strong microscope. Through Murray, I’ve learned how to be a better statesman and figurehead for the church, something you don’t necessarily learn by default in a big city. No Christian is called to live anonymously; we are called to a public testimony. This small town has challenged me to be more intentional about relationships and my witness.

 I’ve learned how to have close friends in the church. Sometimes pastors have difficulty making friends in the churches they serve. I’ve had more close friends in Murray than in any other place I’ve lived. FBC has graciously given me the blessing of shepherding while also having close friends. Too few pastors experience this blessing. I do not take these friendships lightly.

 I’ve learned how to follow. All pastors lead. It’s an inescapable part of being called to serve the local church. One of the most difficult aspects of leading a church is discerning when to follow and who to follow in your congregation. At FBC, I’ve served with and under the leadership of people wiser and more experienced than me—laypersons more spiritually mature and equipped with gifts I do not have. I still do not follow well, but I’m learning how to curtail a claim on pastoral authority to follow other servants who lead better than me in certain situations and environments.

 FBC Murray is a great church in a charming town. I love it here. But God has called. I pray you will not view this transition as one of me leaving, but rather as one of you sending my family. Undoubtedly, I’m excited about the future and a new season of ministry. The transition, however, is bittersweet. While I will not have the privilege of pastoring here anymore, I will be cheering for my friends. I know the mission will never stop. And I know you will persevere, regardless of who stands in the pulpit. It’s one of the biggest reasons I love you.

15 comments on “My New Place of Ministry”

  1. Todd Randolph says:


    Great letter. Both you and your new church family at Stevens Street will be blessed. Great place, I have family there.

  2. pastoralan says:

    Good letter Sam. Wise. Congrats on your new place.

  3. Dwight and Brenda Thomas says:

    We are excited about Pastor Sam and his family coming to SSBC. Can’t wait to see Gods plans for us. God Bless.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I know that everywhere you God sends you the people at the church will be blessed to have you serve.Good luck on your new adventure in this minisrty.

  5. Ruth Cropper says:

    Bro. Sam,
    Tom and I will be praying for you and your family regarding your transition from Murray to Cookeville.. We are looking forward to having you as our pastor.

  6. Sam Rainer says:

    Thank you all for your encouragement! We’re sad to leave Murray but ready to be on the field in Cookeville and serving at Stevens Street.

  7. Norma Treon says:

    I am sad to see you and your precious family leave our church and our subdivision. I enjoy seeing you and Erin running. I will always remember the two of you running with Maggie in the stroller. I will always remember you and Jordan coming to WATCH and sharing your talents with the clients there. You have been a tremendous help to me in this season of my life. I know you will do a great job wherever you are and Stevens Street will appreciate you and your ministry as we have at FBC.

  8. Sam Rainer says:

    Norma, you are kind. We most certainly will miss you and the wonderful people at WATCH.

  9. Bro. Sam, Ronnie and I are looking forward to you leading us at SSBC. We will pray for you and your family as you look forward to the move to Cookeville. When you follow the call of our Lord and Savior He is in all the details. God Bless you!

  10. Beverley Nash says:

    I am eager to see what God has planned for SSBC under your sheperding. We are blessed to have you and Erin lead us. I am praying for you, Erin and Maggie, and for FBC Murray during this transition. I know God will bless Murray and provide for them they way He has for us these past two years. God’s blessings.

    1. Sam Rainer says:

      Thank you, Beverley. We appreciate the prayer!

  11. Mandy Rawls says:

    Bro. Sam, I regret that I missed the opportunity to send you this message yesterday and wish your lovely wife a happy birthday. We are birthday buddies! Hope she had a blessed day. The Rawls family (Dustin, Mandy, & Madison) eagerly anticipate your official arrival at SSBC and look forward to what God has planned for your family and our church family in the days, weeks, and months ahead.


    ~Mandy Rawls

    1. Sam Rainer says:

      Thanks Mandy! Erin and Maggie had a wonderful birthday, and I hope you did too.

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