Dear Members of Bethel Lutheran Church,
In our church body, congregations looking for a pastor can choose to have a pastor assigned from one of our seminaries or consider “calling” a pastor who is serving another congregation. This process is facilitated by our District who helps congregations to find qualified pastors who best fit the needs of the congregation. On Sunday, December 29, 2013, Trinity Lutheran Church in Faribault, MN called me to be their Senior Pastor. Now I have two calls to be Senior Pastor, one from Bethel and another from Trinity. Since I can not serve both, I must choose one or the other.
Since congregations can choose from pastors who are currently serving other congregations, often a call comes to a pastor who was not seeking to serve a different congregation. Such was the case for me. I couldn’t be happier with Bethel and the growth in discipleship that we’ve experienced in our 8 years together. In that span of time, I was blessed not to receive a single call from another congregation. It allowed me and my family to put down roots, keep a long-term perspective and grow close to so many people. However, now that a call has been issued there is a fork in the road and a choice must be made. One thing I know… this is hard!
How does someone make such a decision? There are a lot of peripheral things that try to worm their way into a decision like this. Things like church size, community size, salary, benefits, housing, and schools are all important things to consider. They just aren’t at the heart of the matter. Here’s how I’m trying to approach this decision. God made me and my family. God gave us gifts and abilities that serve His Kingdom. Where are those gifts and abilities best applied? This is the essential question. God will work out the rest of the details.
The hardest part is the actual deciding. That’s why I’m asking all of you to pray for me and my family during these next few weeks. Please pray that God will make it clear to us where He wants us to serve. Pray that we will have peace with the decision. Pray for both congregations, as this is a time of uncertainty. Pray that God’s will be done. I would also like to ask that you talk with me about how you feel about this call. I greatly respect your opinions and I want to hear them. In the meantime, it will be business as usual at Bethel.