A month ago, I “announced” in this space a transition that had been underway for several months. While I have loved serving the people of Capitol City Christian Church, the Lord was making it clear that he had another assignment in mind for me.

Last Sunday, the people of Life Church in Salisbury, North Carolina, unanimously affirmed their elders’ decision to call me to be their next pastor of teaching and vision.

While I think the unanimous vote of Life Church’s people reveals more about the congregation’s health and unity, as well as the leadership of the church’s elders, than it reveals about me as a candidate or as a pastor, I was thankful for the way the Lord used this vote to confirm clearly to me that he was, indeed, calling me to serve at Life Church.

All this means that our transition is officially underway. Lord willing, my family and I will move to North Carolina at the end of December, during our kids’ school break. It is a bittersweet season for us, as we’ve loved Lincoln and the people of Capitol City so dearly. Given that, we’re excited to be a part of a new church family at Life Church, and excited to make Salisbury our new home.

A few weeks ago, I sent the people of Capitol City a letter, in hopes of expressing – one final time – my love for them and appreciation of them. As we walk through a time of change, these thoughts are still rattling around in my head and in my heart, so I thought I’d share them here.


To the saints of Capitol City Christian Church:

For those who are in Christ, “goodbye” is never forever. Gospel partings are only temporary, as the redeemed people of God will one day be reunited to worship him together for eternity.

Yet gospel partings are still, often, full of sorrow. When Paul departed from the Ephesian elders, never to see them again in this life, Luke tells us “there was much weeping on the part of all” (Acts 20:37). When Paul prayed for Timothy from his Roman prison cell, perhaps only days away from his own execution, he recalled Timothy’s tears (2 Tim 1:4), presumably shed upon their separation, and confessed that he longed to see Timothy again. The gospel gives our relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ real and deep meaning, purpose, and significance, so that when we part from one another our sorrow is real and deep. Our sorrow, in a way, testifies to the true reality and depth of the gospel itself. We must be the adopted family of God, or saying goodbye to one another wouldn’t hurt so much.

It isn’t possible for me to express what you all have meant to me, to Kristen, and to our family. I was young and relatively inexperienced when I came to you. I knew that I had little to offer you, other than the gospel. I’m thankful for the many ways we have seen the sufficiency and power of the gospel during our time together. And I am deeply thankful for you.

Thank you for welcoming us so warmly when we arrived in Lincoln, and for helping us to love and embrace this city as our home. Thank you for patiently enduring my earliest efforts in the pulpit as I labored to find my preaching voice. Thank you for the ways so many of you have loved and invested in my children as if they were your own children. Thank you for the friendship you have freely given to Kristen and to me. Thank you for your love for one another, and for us, in light of the gospel. Thank you for the passion and sincerity with which you sing the truths of the gospel in corporate worship. Thank you for your hunger for the word of God, and for your desire to know nothing except Christ crucified (see 1 Cor 2:1-5). Thank you for your prayers, and for the ways so many of you have expressed gratitude and appreciation for our time together in these past few months as we have walked through transition together.

Serving as your pastor has been one of the greatest privileges and joys of my life. As we part, I will continue to pray for you, being sure “that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6). The completion of that work means that our “goodbye” is not forever, and I praise God for that today!

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen. (Rom 11:36)

Blessings in Christ,

James Sharp

4 comments

  1. James, congratulations! I am genuinely excited for you and your family. I know God has plans to use you at Life Church and those folks are in for some awesome growth in the Lord. I’m excited for Life Church! I’m continuing to pray for you as God prepares you to serve Him there, and as you and Kristin prepare for the move and all that comes with that. What great things God is doing!
    – Beth

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  2. James and family-thank you for your messages that have helped me to see and understand my Heavenly Father so much more clearly. I will continue to re-listen to those messages often.(praise God for computers). I’m excited for the people of Salisbury and also for us at Capitol City and the wonder of God that comes through our next pastor. May God bless you and God bless us all. Louise

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