Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Very Special Day

Today was a special day. I just want to thank God for his graciousness and share it with you. Today, my friend, Dick Paulsen, was ordained as pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Des Moines.

It was special for all the human reasons, like: It was a great honor for me to be asked to preach and ordain Dick. It was great fun seeing Mark Vander Tuig, the Service Coordinator for the LCMC, and having him participate. It was great fun seeing Dick’s family and congregation celebrate this great day.

But it was also special spiritually. Redeemer hasn’t had an “official” pastor for years. Dick has served as preaching elder since their last “highly paid, professional, religious person” moved to another church. Redeemer is a smaller church and couldn’t afford to replace their pastor when he left. But Dick is a retired executive and he doesn’t need the paycheck in order to minister full time. Dick is over 70, a former Marine, and father of four, married 54 years. And now this little church has a young minded pastor, newly called to lead, and he’s ready to go. God will do great things at Redeemer.

What happened at Redeemer today couldn’t have happened in the highly bureaucratic structures of most denominations. What happened today was very New Testament. A man, a leader, an elder, became the pastor. Years of studying the Bible (but not in a formal school), years of working with people, years of listening to the Holy Spirit, were recognized today as being just as important as a degree.

Now this isn’t meant to diminish education and it’s importance. Rather, what happened today was a recognition that God can use both a formal education process and an informal life process to raise up leaders. Being free of a structure which must be formally satisfied allows us to raise up leaders where they are and give them recognized “authority” in the form of the office of pastor so that they can do what God has called them to do.

Today’s event shows that Redeemer is serious about being on mission for Jesus Christ.

Zion and Redeemer have collaborated in the past. Veritas, a Sunday evening service for the neighborhood, brought the two churches together and taught us how to work together and share our gifts and resources.

Currently, Dick Paulsen and I pray every Sunday morning starting at 6:00. Dick is familiar with our ministry and with our staff and congregation. We share a love for the Lord and a desire to reach this city in His name.

Redeemer and Zion have great plans together to do just that. Being in the same denomination now allows us to more fully work together without any apologies. This summer, Zion staff and volunteers will join Redeemer in presenting four, one-day Vacation Bible School outreaches to the Redeemer neighborhood. I hope you’ll sign up to volunteer. Having learned some powerful lessons at Douglas Terrace Apartments last year, this year we’re coming with crafts, games, bounce houses, music, food and a solid gospel message.

We also plan on helping Redeemer “re-plant” itself. We believe that in the next five years, it is God’s desire that we send a pastor from Zion and a tithe of the Zion membership to Redeemer to re-invigorate those already at Redeemer and to help further diversify their congregational demographics. This is not a Zion take over. It is not a satellite church. It is simply a breathing of new life into a faithful, existing congregation.

Pastor Mark Vander Tuig from the LCMC is excited about Zion and Redeemer’s past and future together. He said, “I share the story of your two churches partnership all the time. To me, this is what LCMC is all about.” Praise God. It’s time to step out in faith and engage the world with the gospel together. Thanks for reading. PJ

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