MESSAGE from Pastor Moore
God’s Word has the answer...
Lisa and I are so glad to be a part of the ministry here, and we feel very welcome. Thank you! As I write we have found a condo to rent and are just waiting for the paperwork to all come together. Meanwhile we’ve spent a few nights with friends (the parents of my best buddy from elementary school) and are now being graciously hosted by the Strangs. We’re looking forward to unloading our car into our new place soon!
So what’s the plan for the next few months? You’re probably tired of having short-term pastors by now, after many years of stability with long-term pastorates. It has to be pretty unsettling—during 2016 you’ve had three different called pastors, Kirk, Abram, and Moore, and you know that this Moore guy won’t be here terribly long. So how do we work together to return to a more ”normal” situation, with a pastor you can really get to know and work with long-term?
First of all, there are no guarantees. Our Savior learned that with Pastor Mark, and I learned it when my ministry at St. Paul’s in Concordia, Missouri, was cut short by a heart attack and quadruple bypass surgery. We can plan all we want, and we can have our expectations in place, but God alone knows what will actually come to pass. He’s in charge, and we’d better not forget it!
That said, we still always work with some goal in mind, and often God graciously grants us the fulfillment of those goals. So what are we aiming for? I’d like to share my picture of the next few months with you.
Right now there’s a twin focus. As a congregation we’re simply worshiping Jesus as we celebrate his birth. Advent and Christmas are busy enough at any church, any year. So as a group we’re letting this wonderful season flow in as normal a way as possible, with opportunities to enjoy the special music of the season, the children’s programs, and our candlelight worship on Christmas Eve. Meanwhile, my personal focus is on the steep learning curve of any pastor’s first weeks in a congregation. I’m learning names and relationships, trying to grasp some of the history, and learning how things work around here.
So that’s December. By the end of it I believe we’ll have properly welcomed the Baby Jesus into our hearts, and gotten to know each other a bit as pastor and people.
In January I’ll be preaching a series entitled “What Is God’s Church Supposed to Be Doing?” If we’re going to search for a new settled pastor, and if we want Our Savior to be ready when he comes, we need to all be on the same page as to just what we’re doing here in the first place. Here’s the basic thought behind this series: When God saved us by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, he could have just taken us straight to heaven, but he didn’t. Instead, he gathered us into this congregation with these particular people. Why? What does he want me to do, and why with these particular people, at this time and place? I believe that God’s Word has the answer to this question, and that we need to periodically refocus on doing exactly what he’s called us to do, not just what “we’ve always done.”
Meanwhile in January I’ll be continuing to get to know this congregation, but especially the leaders. I’ll be asking a lot of questions and sharing some information, preparing for the call process.
In February I’ll be asking you to join me in small groups to answer some important questions. Please start planning now to commit to coming to one of the meetings, where I’ll be asking a handful of questions and noting your answers. I hope that everyone who attends Our Savior will attend a meeting, because everyone’s voice is important in determining who this congregation is and what we believe God is calling us to do together.
Lent starts on Ash Wednesday, March 1, 2017. During Lent our hearts focus on what it means to say “Jesus died for me.” As a congregation we’ll be totally focused on our Lenten preparation for Easter, but behind the scenes certain of the leaders of Our Savior will be sorting through our notes from those small group meetings to present a report to the congregation that will also guide the call committee. During this time we’ll make sure we’ve gathered all the names of potential candidates from the congregation and from the District Office, so that once that report is made and the congregation has discussed it (after Easter, of course), the call committee can interview candidates and make their recommendations.
What I’m describing here is a quick but thorough process that should, God willing, have us ready to issue a call as early as the beginning of May. Obviously, any number of things could slow this down, though I can’t think of much that would speed it up.
God alone knows the name and qualities of Our Savior’s next pastor. God has already chosen him, and chosen when he will come. Our task is simply to make ourselves available to the Holy Spirit’s leading so that we will recognize and issue a call to the man God is calling.
So if it’s all the Holy Spirit’s work, why don’t we just sit back and wait for some kind of handwriting on the wall? Can’t we just “cast lots,” like they did in Bible times?
As far as I can tell, God always works powerfully, often works mysteriously, but seldom works magically. The process I’ve described is bathed in constant prayer for the guidance of the Holy Spirit at every step. The actual process itself is based on the idea that God has given gifts to the members of the congregation, and that he expects us to use those gifts to the full as we seek to discover the pastor he’s calling to serve here.
My sister says that P-L-A-N is a four-letter word, because every time she tries to make one, something goes wrong! What I’ve described here isn’t exactly a plan, but a direction for us to proceed, constantly asking God to guide each footstep. I’m looking forward to walking in this path with you all!
God bless you,