Tonight the elders at Bethlehem Baptist Church unanimously voted to present Jason Meyer as their candidate to succeed John Piper, pending congregational approval. The announcement from executive pastor Sam Crabtree can be read here.
The vote will come in two stages: (1) on May 20, 2012, the congregation will vote on him as associate pastor for preaching and vision, beginning that role on August 1, 2012; (2) then, as Piper’s pastoral ministry draws to an end, there will be a vote for Meyer as pastor for preaching and vision.
Bethlehem has provided a number of documents, including Sam Crabtree’s “What I Think God Is Doing With Succession at Bethlehem Baptist Church: An Overview,” an advocacy paper from the Search Team, and Meyer’s CV.
John Piper writes to the congregation of Bethlehem regarding Meyer’s candidacy:
I joyfully and expectantly commend him to you with all my heart. Not only because of a long list of gifts and graces and competencies, but also because I believe God has chosen him and anointed him for this role. May the Lord confirm this with a hope-filled, happy, unified vote of the Bethlehem family.
Piper on the Transition
Piper has provided a document answering several questions:
- How do you feel about Jason’s candidacy?
- What was your role in choosing and testing Jason Meyer?
- Why are you stepping down from your pastoral role?
- What will you do?
- What will your relationship to Bethlehem be?
- How do you feel?
In short, Piper is convinced that Meyer is the right man to succeed him in Bethlehem’s pulpit; he was involved in the process of selecting two candidates for this position but then recused himself so that it would be a decision of the whole elder council without being unduly swayed by his significant influence; he still has joyful energy to preach but feels increasingly incompetent and less focused for fruitful and effective visionary leadership of Bethlehem’s organization and structure; they will remain at the church (after a year away) and he serve as chancellor and teacher at Bethlehem College and Seminary, and as founder and teacher at Desiring God.
Piper summarizes his feelings at this stage as follows:
Overwhelmed with thankfulness for God’s faithfulness for 32 years, and for his provision for the next season under Jason.
Sorrowful for my personal and ministerial failures of the last decades.
Affectionate for you, the people I have loved and served.
Confident that God has greater things in store for you than you can imagine. And for us. For the Christian, the best is always yet to come. Always.
You can read the whole document here.
Introducing Jason Meyer
Here is a brief biographical sketch of Jason Meyer. He grew up in South Dakota and did his undergraduate work at Oklahoma Wesleyan University (Bartlesville, Oklahoma)—where he sensed the Lord calling him to vocational ministry during his sophomore year.
After graduating, Jason married Cara Wieczorek, and in the summer of 1999 they became members of Bethlehem Baptist Church as Jason entered The Bethlehem Institute apprenticeship and seminary program (1999-2001).
From there they moved to Louisville, as Jason earned an M.Div. from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (2002) and then a New Testament Ph.D. under Tom Schreiner (2007).
While completing his Ph.D., Jason served as pastor of Orville Baptist Church in Pleasureville, KY. From 2006-2009 he was Dean of Chapel and Assistant Professor of New Testament and Greek at Louisiana College in Pineville, LA. In the spring of 2010, the Meyers lived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where Jason taught New Testament at Evangelical Theological College and their family pursued adoption.
In the summer of 2010, Jason and Cara returned to Bethlehem with their four children—two girls, and two boys from Ethiopia—as Jason accepted an appointment at Bethlehem College and Seminary, where he serves as assistant professor of New Testament.
He is the author of The End of the Law: Mosaic Covenant in Pauline Theology (B&H Academic, 2009)—a revision of his dissertation—and he is currently writing Preaching: A Biblical Theology for Crossway (due out in August 2013).
Meyer is 36 years old. Piper was 34 when he began his pastoral ministry at Bethlehem in 1980.
You can hear some of his sermons online: “Putting the Word to Work through Prayer” (2 Timothy 3:14-17) and “The Heart of Christmas” (Matthew 2:1-12), or you can watch below a video of him preaching at the BCS chapel “On Love” (1 John 3:11-18):