First, let me be clear that what I'm proposing will first have to be approved by the elected leaders of the congregation on the Board of Spiritual Oversight, of which Pastor Chris and I are both members.
Because Chris and I are so close, I've been in on his discernment process from the beginning and have therefore been able to devote a lot of prayer and thought to this plan. At this stage of Zion's development, I wouldn't want to work with someone whom I didn't know. This is a moot point anyway, as our current financial situation really won't allow us to hire a seasoned professional. So what could God be up to? I think that his answer is this: we are being given the perfect opportunity to promote from within. We have two of our current staff involved in getting their M.Div degrees. Brent Osborne, our youth guy, and Tina Rasmussen, our director of adult discipleship. So what I propose is a two part plan:
First, Brent and Tina begin pastoral internships at Zion. Some of you will be familiar with this concept that is part of the education process within the Lutheran church. A seminary student serves at least a year under the supervision of a pastor in order to experience real ministry situations in the congregation. Some interns are given programming responsibilities and others are basically given churches to lead and their supervising pastor might be in another town. Each intern has an internship committee made up of members of the congregation who provide feedback and evaluation to the intern. I would like to see Tina and Brent moved into official roles of Intern Pastors and proceed toward their ordinations in 2010 and 2011 respectfully. Each would continue in their present responsibilities as well as taking on some additional pastoral responsibilities such as visiting and occasional preaching. Interns are compensated at a set rate that is within our ability to afford and this would allow us to actually pay Tina for what she has been doing at Zion for the last year already.
In the summers of 2010 and 2011, respectively, after having graduated from their programs and received their degrees, Tina and Brent will be ordained and able to fulfill full pastoral responsibilities as well as oversight of staff and programming to be determined. Each will be given the title: “Teaching Pastor.” I realize that some people will question why we need three pastors. I think it's important that everyone understand that it is not unusual for churches of Zion's size to have several pastors on staff, each one charged with responsibilities in different areas of programming. Their titles are usually something similar to "Missions Pastor" or "Children's Pastor" for example. They are on the church staff and serve as program directors but can also do pastoral acts like weddings, funerals, baptisms, etc. I've had many titles over the years I spent at Hope. Over my tenure there I was: Teaching Pastor for Discipleship, Teaching Pastor for Adult Discipleship and Prayer and Missions, and Teaching Pastor for Care. It's a worthy model to follow and utilized by many churches.
Brent has a pastor's heart. He is incredibly gifted and is developing to be a great preacher. He preached almost every weekend last year at the Veritas service on Sunday nights. His abiding passion is in the care of souls, which we desperately need. I believe he is the right one to one day lead a ministry at Zion that offers care to people through a life changing relationship with Jesus Christ.
Tina is a gifted teacher who as a staff member at Hope had a 100 people attending her Bible study. She has just finished as a long time board member of Crossways International where she has been a protege of Harry Wendt, the founder of the Crossways curriculum, the best Bible survey material I have ever used. She has a background in leadership training and small groups. She has a lot to offer as a gifted teacher and preacher.
Pastor Chris' current duties will be distributed as follows: teaching: between Pastor John and Tina and Brent. Pastoral Care: between Brent and Tina. Missions: to BreeAnn Williams, our director of childrens discipleship who has a deep passion for missions and experience as well.
Tina will be tasked with the following: adult discipleship; leadership development; hospitality (which will include evangelism, coffee hour, transportation, information center, ushers); she will teach and preach; she will have some care responsibilities.
Brent will be tasked with the following: youth discipleship; supervision of Carli; continued development and oversight of our cradle to grave discipleship plan; preaching and teaching; care responsibilities.
BreeAnn will be tasked with the following: kids discipleship; oversight of nursery; missions.
I will be tasked with the following: vision, staff, preaching and teaching, leadership development, and care.
In addition, Stephen Ministers will come on board this spring and will be tasked to help with visitation to hospitals and the home bound as well as being assigned one on one relationships. We'll ask the Prayer Team to step up efforts to meet and pray with people on Sundays and Wednesdays before surgeries and so on.
My inspiration several years ago was to find a strong preacher and teacher who would help me address our greatest need: to get into the Word. We’ve really been blessed to have Chris with us. I estimated Christ would be here 3-5 years but obviously God had other plans and so basically shy of 2 years, he’ll be leaving us. But I know that this is the right move for Chris and his family and for the kingdom of God. Brent and Tina will make excellent preachers and will grow into their roles. It will take practice, which means they need time and opportunity. Zion will be raising up and equipping new leaders for the whole Church and not just our congregation.
The second part of this plan has to do with finding someone to begin to take over our youth ministry program in the fall of 2010. I'd like to find a young candidate in need of formation and opportunity who will meet our immediate needs with the intent of raising him/her up through the ranks. More about this second step in my next blog. Thanks for reading. God bless you. PJ