How are doing with this whole process? Some have said to me that this is taking a long time and truthfully, it has. Let me share a little history from my very subjective point of view. In years past the Calling of a new Pastor was not as complicated as it is today. When a Lutheran Church needed a Pastor, they Called a Pastor from another church or a seminary graduate who just had completed 3 years of training and vicarage or an internship year. In the early years of my ministry, I received Calls to other churches with no previous contact. Not too much thought was given to how the new Pastor and the church would match up together. And it worked – for years and years because our Lutheran churches were very similar to one another.
Times have changed and churches and church leaders like our District President, Paul Linnemann, have made every effort, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to match the right Pastors with the right churches. A great deal of the work: interviewing, reading Pastoral Informational Forms, reviewing experience and gifts of potential Candidates is done by the Call Committee. The goal is find the best fit for the new Pastor and the congregation.
Let me share briefly my history with Friendship Celebration. I served in three churches before serving here. All three were basically positive experiences. I believed they prepared me for coming here. Toward the end of 1993 the Northwest District of our church sent me a questionnaire and one of the questions it asked was: Is there any area of ministry that you would like to try/do that you haven’t done before? I wrote down planting a church. I had no idea what I was getting into, but it has been an exciting adventure that we have been a part of for over 20 years. God has really blessed us. I believe Friendship Celebration is a thriving and growing church because we have trusted in the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
BUT – where do we go from here? I know some of us are feeling impatient about where do we go from here. I am still energized for ministry. I don’t want to quit by any stretch of the imagination, but I also realize we need some new blood. We need someone to lead us from where we are today to where we need to go tomorrow and in 2020 and 2030. That’s hard for some of us to even think about. The reality is that we need to think WAY beyond ourselves and what GOD has in mind for our church and our ministry in the Treasure Valley. It’s not just about us and what will meet our needs today. It’s about how our church can make an impact, a powerful impact, in reaching people for Jesus Christ and changing the direction of their lives.
So….back to the Call process. As your present Pastor, I know many of my limitations. God has blessed me and you in so many ways. The result is that we are who we are today and we are the church we are today. I also believe that there is so much potential to move way beyond where we are with the right Pastoral and Lay leadership. So why is this process so different from years ago? Part of it is because we are looking for a more specialized and gifted person who can be a part of casting the vision and empowering the people of Friendship Celebration to carry it out.
As I looked at the people who came to the first informational meeting about the four Pastoral Candidates most of them had the same color of hair that I have. We are becoming an older church. In 1994 I was the oldest member of the church at 48. The average age of a member of our church in the early years was 26. Many of you have grown old with me. Who do we want to reach? That should say something about who we want to Call to be our next Pastor. He should be someone who relates to the millennials – understands their lifestyles, music, how they communicate, what’s important to them, and how in the world the message of the Bible relates to their lives.
It would appear that all four Candidates have a heart for millennials. These four men have risen to the top. Their gifts and vision for the church of Jesus Christ seems to be aligned with Friendship Celebration. Their Pastoral styles would also seem to be a fit. Are any of them a perfect fit in everyone’s mind and heart, probably not. We certainly aren’t the perfect church either.
So what do we do? We continue the process. We listen to one another. We pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance and trust in His leading us to the best choice for Friendship Celebration at this point in our history.
Be in prayer and trust in God’s direction!