Where do I even begin?
Over two years ago I had just gotten engaged to my then fiancé, Lindsey. Shortly after engagement, we knew we needed someone to do our marriage counseling. My younger brother had told me about a local pastor in the area that he loved, Matt Slaughter. That next week, Matt, his wife Angela, Lindsey, and myself, all got together at Market Place Grill over one too many flaming quesos. What started as marriage counseling quickly turned into dreaming. The rest is history, the idea of Hill City had been conceived, and there wasn't a single obstacle that would stand in the way of God's plan.
Just after graduating from Texas A&M, Matt and Ang offered me a job to come on staff as the executive/creative/teaching pastor (something like that, we never really nailed it down) under their leadership. Me, a twenty-three year old, newly engaged, hardly experienced graduate. I believed in what God had put on their heart, but I never expected them to believe in me the way they did. I wasn't looking to become a pastor, but Matt fanned the flame of God's calling within me, and that's just the beginning of where the gratitude begins.
I can't begin to describe the character of Matt Slaughter. He would never tell anybody this, but I will tell it for him. When I walked into our office at Hill City to tell Matt that Lindsey and I were taking a ministry position in Atlanta with The Alternative, I could hardly breathe. I was trying not to sob and throw-up at the same time. I couldn't even look at him. When I finally got the words out he said, "Luke, it's ok. I'm so excited for you." He didn't yell or question the decision. He told me that he trusted I've prayed about this and said, "You're not mine or Hill City's, you're God's." That's a man of Godly-character responding with the heart of God in a culture of competitiveness. I doubt I'll ever play a part in a send off as honoring as this one has been.
How do you begin to thank a man who brought you and your wife together in marriage and gave you your start in life? How can you quantify the impact of a church that embraces you from the get-go? Hill City Church isn't just my local church, they are family to Lindsey and I. They gave us the start we didn't know we needed and encouraged us in ways that moved us in alignment with God's calling on our lives. They respected and listened to a young preacher on Sundays when he wasn't even sure of himself. They embraced a young couple that had been called to lead, but in so many ways, they lead us and helped us along the way. Everything we do from now until the day the Lord calls us home will be a result of what God did through Hill City Church.
There are no words that can adequately describe how thankful I am for my church. Sunday won't be the same without the Slaughters, Smallings, Simmons, Pitts, Parsons, Garcias, Ricketts, Mounces, Armstrongs, Taylors, Marquesses, Essexes, Willards, Holmans, Riggins, Halsteads, Storys, Frieses, Stewarts, Kopeks, Stewarts, Martins, my Porch Night crew, and so many more.
If you're in the Northwest Arkansas area and looking for a church, there is no better place than Hill City. I'll be in town for another month and will be preaching my final sermon on the morning of Super Bowl Sunday! I hope you'll be there these next few weeks. Lindsey and I's love for you is unshakable, our gratitude for you is unfathomable, and our prayers for you will never cease.
This is only the beginning for Hill City Church. Being your pastor has been one of the greatest honors of my life, a true privilege. We will be back. This isn't good-bye, but see you soon. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you, we love you, and we can't wait to see what God has in store for you.
- Luke & Linds