LOGANVILLE — Rodney Massey had a vision for how church should be. It ought to be built on the gospel, yet look different than what he’d seen. Church should reflect the gifts and hues found throughout God’s people. It should serve as a living example that, yes, we are all under the same grace bought by Christ.
Berean Bible Church in Loganville, where Massey, 54, served as pastor since it began in 2015, showed the vision was possible. The weekly attendance of around 300 reflected an almost 50/50 percentage of black and white members, with other ethnicities as well. Missions and community outreach brought forward a bold picture of God’s kingdom.
Berean Bible Church will continue to live out that bold image of the gospel, members testify, following Massey’s death Dec. 6 from an auto accident.
“He wanted to plant a multi-ethnic church that united people under the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Associate Pastor Jamie Merritt, who joined the church’s staff at its beginning, told The Index. “Rodney said everything was to be grounded in the authority of God’s word. The gospel draws people together. And as he laid out the vision and preached the gospel, people came.”
The first logistical step, said Merritt, was to have a staff that reflected the church.
“Because you had leadership from different backgrounds, people felt it was genuine. Everyone had a seat at the table and were cared for. He was a great, humble man who led with a vision for the gospel and to minister to those around him. He was the epitome of a servant leader.”
About empowering others
“Anything my dad did, he did with excellence,” Massey’s daughter, Jessica, said at her father’s funeral Dec. 11. “Moving forward with the tools he’s given us, I’d challenge all of us to continue building the kingdom with excellence.”
Plenty of leaders have outgoing, warm personalities that make strangers feel like a long-lost friend. What’s rare are those same leaders having a combination of work ethic plus willingness to let go of some leadership. Merritt says his best friend lived that through his humility and dedication to BBC’s vision.
“It wasn’t about him, but empowering those around him. He gave leadership away. The team onstage was diverse; different people would lead worship. Everyone knew it wasn’t about Rodney; it was about Jesus.”
Massey’s most powerful sermon may have been the one he delivered two days before his death.
“God allows both good and evil activity to occur,” he said on the recording also played at the funeral. “But He uses everything – He uses all things – to accomplish His good pleasure. … God causes all things to work together for good. How many things? All of them. Why? Because God causes them to. … [N]o matter what happens, whether cancer, whether a car careens out of control, we wonder how in the world can something good come out of this?
“[In] the worst of situations and tragedies God will work somehow, some way, to bring about good. God has a purpose for his people.”
Husband, father, grandparent
Massey left home last Thursday around 9 a.m. for the 15-minute drive to Berean Bible Church. According to the police report, Merritt explained, someone trying to make a left-hand turn clipped Massey’s car, sending him into oncoming traffic where his black BMW was T-boned. He died instantly.
Around 11 a.m. Sheryl Massey received a phone call. It was the police, wanting to talk to her about Rodney Massey. Thinking it was a prank call, she hung up and called Merritt.
By that time Merritt has grown concerned. It was very unusual for Massey to not be in the office without letting his staff know of another appointment or meeting. When Sheryl reached Merritt and told him of the call she’d just received, the associate pastor told her to call them back. He hung up, grabbed his jacket, and headed out the door to the Massey home.
Arriving there at the same time as Sheryl and joining Jessica and her husband, Lasiah, police explained what happened. Soon friends, family, and members of Berean Bible Church began to arrive and grieve.
Along with being Sheryl’s husband for 31 years, Rodney Massey had also been a dad to the couple’s son, Rodney, and their daughter. Jessica and Lasiah had brought Rodney into the role of grandparent with the birth of their children, Jaelyn and Jayden.
‘It’s about kingdom work’
Without their pastor the days ahead for Berean Bible Church will be … different. But, Merritt is convinced Rodney Massey prepared his church for such a time.
“So many people have come up to me and said how they can see it’s about kingdom work here, it’s about Jesus,” Merritt said. “Rodney had built that culture, that DNA into our church. I’m confident that God will bring us together as a church and community. People will come to faith in Christ not in spite of this event, but through it.
“Rodney did all the heavy lifting. He did the hard work of plowing up the ground. Now, our church gets to stand behind that and reap the benefit.”