On June 28th I'll begin my tenure as senior pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Dekalb, Il. It's a great church that has a heart for discipleship and reaching out to the college community that surrounds it. Our family is excited about what God is going to do there and howe He will use us.
Leaving BRCC has afforded me the opportunity to reflect on my time there and what I have learned, experience, etc. Time away can be a great gift to get perspective on a given situation. More will come to me over time, but this is what I have found so far:
1. Little things matter in ministry; people remember - Numerous times over the past month people have come up to me to thank me for interaction they had with me, prayer we shared, etc. These were little things, not a program, an initiative, or leadership development. These things are important and I'm passionate about them, but not one person has mentioned a program that inspired them. The point is that little interactions were the ones that seemed to matter the most.
2. Being faithful matters - being at a church for 12 years has its ups and downs (like anything right?). I'd like to say that it was easy the whole way, but it wasn't: for me or the church. The key wasn't ease, but faithfulness; being faithful to each other and the vision for the church that is provided by Scripture. It is a lot like a marriage: despite difficulties, no one bails, you push through the tough times. I am so appreciative of BRCC and the elders for their years of faithfulness to me. Because of faithfulness we have been able to see people grow in Christ, see the church grow and expand, and reach out to people in the community. We could have quit, but no one did.
3. The Bible matters - the spiritually correct thing to say is that the Bible matters and it's the most important book in your life if you are a Christian. We hear it all the time and I hope that it is true for people. The truth is that working in and leading a church the Scriptures are essential. Seems like a no brainer, but you'd be surprised how many pastors and churches value conferences, summits, retreats, advances, webinars, etc over the guidance of Scripture. It's not that there is anything wrong with those - I try to attend several a year. It becomes a problem when those supercede the importance and direction of Scripture. There were numerous cases in my time at BRCC that Scripture guided our ship, both by just providing us with a right approach to our situation as well direct direction on what to do (spiritual and pragmatic); especially in the area of discipline.
4. Time off matters - It took me a long time to balance out my passion for the church and personal time. At first it really didn't matter a lot (or so I thought). We didn't have kids, my wife worked full time, so we had more than enough time to give to our respective jobs; working 70 hours a week wasn't a big deal and I felt like it was necessary (at times it was). As we had kids, finished school, etc. I found that needed to get better at balancing my time. When I did this I discovered I was more valuable and could set a better tone at the church. I could show that it was important to trust God more and obsess less; I could show that it was not my church, but God's; I could show how to work smarter and not harder; I could show that my family was a priority as well as my own development.
So, yeah, I think that is it for now. Since I've got time off the next two weeks I'm sure I'll post some more of my reflections.