I have little experience at First Baptist Muncie without the Headleys. Not long after I arrived, Barb Eidson found a young piano student at Ball State named Heather Parker. We were looking for someone to lead worship and found out that Heather’s fiancé was a worship leader; he felt that God was calling him into ministry. The next step for him was seminary. God soon orchestrated a full scholarship for Matt at Northern Seminary and we hired him part-time as Worship Arts Director. It all worked out perfectly. A few months later, Matt and Heather were married and moved to Muncie.
First Baptist has been training ground for Matt. He commuted back and fourth to Chicago each week for the first three years. Taking what he learned in textbooks, he was able to test it out in real life ministry. As Matt encountered new ideas, he tried them out in this ministry context. We have experienced new forms of worship, discipleship and leadership as Matt has contributed to the life of this church.
No doubt, The Headley’s contribution to worship has been significant. Matt has taught us to think deeply about the order of worship. He has studied ancient models of liturgy and has incorporated applicable parts into worship at First Baptist. You might think that moving the offering until the end of the service would create havoc. But Matt was able to articulate theological convictions about how we worship and why we participate in each aspect.
Matt has also been intentional about involving others in worship planning. He believes that worship is the work of the people, not simply the work of the pastor. With this we have experienced more testimonies, creative components and out-of-the-box ways of carrying out worship.
Matt is not alone in his contribution to the church’s worship. Heather has been active in the praise band sharing her gifts in music. In fact, she has been active in aiding our worship through music longer than Matt.
The Headley’s have offered much in terms of discipleship. Matt prompted the conversation that began the process of planning what is now our Missional Communities. He and I traveled to Fort Wayne to attend a conference that spawned the idea for these communities. Heather was on the planning team for our pilot community a little over a year ago. Not only have they helped to guide overall church discipleship, Matt and Heather have been involved in many of your lives personally, helping you to grow in Christ. It is difficult to quantify their contribution; we will not fully realize their discipleship impact until we are all able to celebrate God’s work in Heaven.
Matt and Heather have helped us transition as a congregation in terms of leadership. We are learning how to live into our new polity. We are moving toward a team model of ministry in which we all use our gifts for the sake of Christ’s Kingdom. As leaders, it has been necessary to call on members to take responsibility for areas of ministry. Matt’s role has always been less than full-time at First Baptist; he has been required to depend on you to carry out much of the ministry. He and Heather have empowered many of you to serve. For this, we are deeply grateful.
It would be impossible to highlight every contribution that Matt and Heather have made to First Baptist. However, I wanted to point out that their years with us have been years of impact. We are not the same because of the Headleys. They have impacted us; we are thankful for the years that God has given us together. At the same time, we will miss them tremendously.
We know that others will benefit from their gifts in the future and pray that God would continue to empower their ministry in the Kingdom.