Monday, August 23, 2010

Unity in the Body

As a Pastor, it is extremely gratifying to see the Body of Christ work as it is designed to operate. And over the past few days, I’ve been privileged to do just that.

Our annual Congregational Meeting is always more than just a business meeting—it is a celebration of God’s hand of blessing on our church. To look back at this past year is to observe the many ways in which the Spirit of God has moved in our midst. But this year, it was especially exciting to see our church come together in a tremendous sense of unity of spirit and purpose.
The church budget, church officers and the selection of a new deacon were all affirmed unanimously, with nearly 2/3 of our membership casting their ballots.

We also rejoiced in the news that we have reached an agreement in principle to purchase the Spring Hill Plaza shopping center. When finalized, this will give us nearly 20,000 square feet of worship and ministry space to call our own. This will include about 1800 square feet of space dedicated to our Youth Center—a great place for teens to study God’s Word and fellowship together. An additional 4000 square feet will be leased out to others until we need it, and we’ll have an option to purchase additional land adjacent to the shopping center property.

At this time, our Elders view this as an interim step to allow us to grow to a sufficient size to support construction of new facilities on our 35 acres of property on 169 Highway.

Only God knows the future, and we’re trying hard not to get ahead of Him. So we’ll take this step-by-step, sensitive to the leadership of His Holy Spirit. We are at the very early stages of this process, with lots of potential hurdles to overcome to make this a reality. But we’re trusting in Him to open and close doors as He sees fit.

As exciting as all this is, it is only a part of the work of the church. I have also been privileged to see God’s people work in much quieter ways. I arrived at the hospital to pray with a dear church member facing surgery, only to find several members of her Life Group already there, praying for her and lending support to her family. It is further proof that the folks at Life Spring really do understand what the Body of Christ is all about. Ministry is not confined to the pastors or staff—it is the duty and privilege of each person to minister to others.

In so many ways, I am blessed to serve alongside such saints. We are not a perfect church—far from it. But even in our shortcomings and imperfections, we’re in it together.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Thoughts on Pastor Dennis' Ordination

We celebrated a great day on Sunday as Life Spring ordained Dennis Burd to the office of Pastor. Having faithfully served our congregation for the past four years as a volunteer and as a full time Minister of Worship & Youth, Dennis has yielded to a calling which God has placed on his heart to serve in the office of Pastor.

As we mentioned on Sunday, we don’t anticipate major changes in Dennis’ duties and responsibilities. He’ll still lead us in worship. He’ll still minister to our teens and their families. He will preach for us from time to time and will occasionally administer the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, but for the most part, he’ll continue to operate in the future as he has in the past.

Dennis will officially be an Associate Pastor at Life Spring. Informally, we’ll undoubtedly refer to him as our Worship Pastor or our Youth Pastor. But he won’t have a big, fancy title, and knowing Dennis as I do, he wouldn’t want one.

If the Lord blesses us with future growth in the congregation, then we’ll add additional staff as well. Not every staff member who leads a ministry will necessarily be a pastor. As we said on Sunday, a man is made a pastor not by man nor ceremony, but by the very will of God (Ephesians 4:11-13). So if God has not placed that calling on a man’s life, we will not assume it for him. He may still lead or direct a ministry, even if he isn’t a pastor, but he won’t carry that title unless he has experienced that calling.

To the extent that we do add pastors to the staff, most of them will come on board as Associate Pastors. Again, we’ll try to stay away from giving people titles that have little meaning. Instead, we envision a staff that consists of a Lead Pastor, an Executive Pastor (a pastor to the pastors, so to speak) and Associate Pastors, who will oversee given areas of ministry such as Worship, Youth, Christian Education, Senior Adults, etc. Some of those ministries may be overseen by non-pastor staff members (e.g. Youth Minister) or by volunteer staff members (e.g. Director of Men’s Ministry). But only men called to Pastor will be recognized as Pastors, regardless of their area of oversight.

Of course, all of this assumes that we continue to experience numerical growth in the future. We’ve grown by a little more than 40% since we were planted 4 years ago. Given our congregation’s commitment to the Word and heart for the community, our leadership certainly believes that we will continue to grow. But whether we grow more or less rapidly over the next four years than in the past, our leaders desire that we plan for growth so that we are prepared for it when it happens.

The Lord is richly blessing Life Spring, and events like Dennis’ ordination help us to recognize the ways in which He is working in our congregation. There are lots of churches out there just going through the motions, limping along from Sunday to Sunday. May we remain submissive to the will of our Lord so that we are never plagued with such complacency and indifference.