From time to time I plan to send pastoral letters addressing whatever is on my heart that I feel would be good to communicate to the congregation. This is the first such letter.
My Role as Downtown Pastor at First Church
The first few weeks of my new role as Senior Pastor/Downtown Pastor at First Church have been great. Thank you for the warm welcome, well wishes and encouragement. I am truly excited about what God is doing in this place.
While my first day in the pulpit is this Sunday, August 6th, most other duties have
already started or simply continued from the past year. The year spent as Co-Pastor
was a great opportunity for me to watch, listen and learn. It also allowed me to
assemble some thoughts on the role of Senior Pastor/Downtown Pastor that I want
to share with you.
The Acts 1.8 principle (where Jesus said to be my witnesses first in Jerusalem then
Judea and Samaria and finally the ends of the earth) is the organizing idea of my
personal and our corporate life. God moves from inside to outside. Deep precede
wide. I long for my life to be caught up in Christ’s and to be a true disciple in
every sense of the word. For Christ to not be a priority but the total sum of my
being. Everything else flows from and out of my relationship with Christ. Therefore,
the first way I serve is by being intentional in my own discipleship.
My greatest gift to the congregation is prayer. Period. The most important thing
I do each day is to be in prayer with and for the people who God has placed me in
My focus is to grow a people and not a church. I say that cautiously. Please let
me explain. I believe that you can grow a church and not make disciples. And the
contrary is true a well. I believe that if you make disciples you will always grow
a church. Remember, deep precedes wide and this is but one example of it. Therefore
my focus is how we are growing closer to Christ. I believe that as we grow closer
to Christ everything else will follow.
As a result, the example of farmer is a good one to consider. To make disciples
is about more than good strategy. It is about relationships we have with God and
one another. And that takes time. We have to be patient and persistent. Trusting
that what we do today will yield results over time is not easy but it is the way
that has been handed down to us by Christ to make disciples.
Vision is the key for any group. One of my primary roles is to communicate where
we are going and why. I believe that vision comes from God through the gifts and
graces, the neighborhood and network, and the passions and desires of a local congregation. My job is not to come up with the vision but to identify it within the people of First Church and then to communicate it.
5. Small Group Leader
Jesus shows us the way of leadership focus by spending time with 1 (God), 3 (Peter,
James, John) and 12 (disciples). This approach leans into the Acts 1.8 principle
of local and moving global. Therefore, the primary group that I lead is the staff
of First Church and our leaders. The time I spend with them is multiplied exponentially
in the lives of our congregation.
The form of leadership I most identify with is that of catalyst. Catalysts inspire
change without being coercive. Catalysts aren’t involved in every last detail.
Catalysts release others to take up their role. And this what I will seek to do
through preaching, teaching, serving and doing life in general alongside you.
I pray this has been helpful to hear some of my “philosophy” of pastoral ministry.
This is not meant to be an exhaustive list but rather a starting point. I’ve only
been living into these for a few weeks so I reserve the right to add/subtract/edit
my thinking for sure!
I am so excited for this opportunity to serve alongside you! I know that what God
has begun he will continue because God can be trusted and you are faithful.