This past Tuesday I, along with Abigail, Adele and Ruth resigned from a job we loved and enjoyed doing for the past six years – as Associate Pastor / College at First Baptist Church Woodway. When we came we never thought about leaving or what leaving would look like, but it has come.

During these past six years we have added our two girls, bought our first home, adopted the “Baylor Bear” culture (jury is out whether that was a good thing or not), grown to understand what it means to disciple people, eaten at some amazing hole-in-the-wall joints (I’m looking at you Kitoks, Viteks, Olive Branch and Common Grounds), and developed friends that simply have become family (you know who you are). We wouldn’t trade the past six years for anything – really.

But, this past week we prayerfully and graciously accepted the invitation to become Senior Pastor at First Baptist Church Bellville, TX. I know that for many of you, this may come as a shock – and quite honestly, it has to us as well! We did not want to uproot our family, nor leave a fellowship that has supported, put up with, cared for, wept with and laughed with us, but the irresistible call of God is something none of us should ignore, and we haven’t. God has confirmed moment after moment that this is where He would have us go, and we are humbled that He might see fit for us to lead His Bride in such a way.

Here are some questions we’ve received after the announcement:

Where is Bellville?

Do you know where Houston is? It is west of Houston, about an hour. Do you know where Blue Bell ice-cream is made? It is south of that town about 15 minutes. So, there. that’s where it is at.

When is your last Sunday?

I have been asked to speak on the 19th of August at College Hour. That will be our last one… and for many their first. It should be pretty emotionally weird day. I will preach and there might be a reception that evening… we’d love to see you there!

Why now? Why Senior Pastor?

I have sensed for quite a while that it was time. Ever since my days in High School I have felt the call to become a Senior Pastor, I just felt that nobody had any business being put in that position until they were the age of Jesus when He began His ministry. But, after multiple conversations with Pastor Toby on things going in my head and in my heart, he helped confirm that my “hands” were trained and ready to take on such a task… his encouragement has been astounding.

What does Abby think about all this?

Well… here are her thoughts:

When God makes things clear you have two choices…STAY PUT and miss out on what He has planned or OBEY and be part of His wonderful story. Our family is hearing God’s call to FBC Bellville. He has made this clear in so many ways. And this has been my prayer…that God would make his direction very clear, and He has.

When I look back on the past 6 years, I am overwhelmed with joy and thankfulness. What a healing, refreshing and growing time it has been. I’ve changed, my family has changed…all for the better. We are leaving dear friends, wonderful neighbors, an amazing ministry…but we trust God’s leadership and call. We look forward to what He has planned for everything here in Waco.
Thanks so all who have loved us, helped raise our kids, worked on our home, made us laugh and listened to us cry. You have made Waco and FBC Woodway a special place. Thank you!
So there you have it. While we are sad, we are excited about the next season.
Grace to all of you,
The Criners
  • Matt

    Congrats! So excited for what’s ahead.

    • michaelcriner

      Thanks brother… you were here at the beginning. Thanks for all your love over the years.

  • So happy for you! More than that, SO very proud of you! Gob bless you and your beautiful family as you set off to do His work. Keep us posted as we can never have enough of this kind of inspirational information to have to help us all to try harder to listen for our own calling. 🙂

    • michaelcriner

      You’re too kind! Keep holding down the fort in Ennis!

  • SO excited for you guys! Following the Lord is never boring! Welcome to semi-Houston. We’re not far away in Katy. Let us know if we can help you guys out in any way!

    • michaelcriner

      Thanks! Congrats on the new blog traffic!!