Where Do Pastors Come From?

Note: This guest post is by David Mayer. David is the interim pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Seguin, Texas, and teaches New Testament for Harvest Workers.

Every year there are more pastors retiring. So, where do new pastors come from? Where are the gardens in which future pastoral candidates are grown? Apart from one candidate who I helped nurture and mentor, I admit that I have acted as if pastors “just keep coming,” as if there were an automatic stream of people eagerly filling the ranks left empty by retiring pastors. Is this how congregations think? Is this how pastors join the ranks, always from somewhere else, but never from any place in particular?


Reflecting on Advent & Christmas

Note: This guest post is by Kari Malinak. Kari serves as the Associate Pastor of Living Word Lutheran Church in Grapevine. Kari was elected to the District Council in 2020.

Happy New Year! Well, as I write this, happy new liturgical year! With Advent, the Christian Church begins a new cycle of seasons and liturgy. Advent is a special season filled with hopeful anticipation, expectation, and joy knowing the celebration of Christ’s birth is only a handful of weeks away. Advent is also a penitential season in which we reflect on the need of God entering this sinful world and our own sinful nature. In our modern world, though, we can lose the meaning in a hectic holiday season. So, writing this now, I hope we can appreciate Advent and Christmas in a calmer time.

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Sabbatical Time

This article is going to be a little different than most. This month I share from my hurting—yet hopeful—heart as I look forward to what I think may be one of the most significant seasons of my life and ministry. In case you have not yet heard, I am extremely honored to be able to take a sabbatical for the first time in this my 20th year of ordained ministry and 7th year of ministry here in LCMC Texas. I will be taking two months of sabbatical and two weeks of vacation time and will be totally unplugged from my job responsibilities from November 1 through January 15.
 


Teamwork

Last month the world watched as the greatest athletes of our time assembled in Tokyo to compete and display their incredible athleticism and unique abilities. It is more than entertaining; it’s awe-inspiring. As remarkable as the individuals themselves may be, I always find myself drawn most to the team sports. The goal of the athletes competing in team sports is a little different than those in the individual sports. In a team sport, all parts of the team need to function in harmony as individuals partner with one another so well that they can almost begin to function as one. This is most awe-inspiring part of the Olympics for me.
 
In faith life, I similarly spectate how disciples of Jesus live out their faith on a daily basis. I am amazed by the incredible dedication and faithfulness that individuals demonstrate in living out their personal callings and I treasure these examples of the Holy Spirit active in the lives of God’s people! And yet what I find myself most drawn to are the examples of Christians in community that unite together around common goals and work in harmony to function as one.
 


Why Can’t Life Be Easy?

Why does life seem to be so hard? It is one of the age-old questions that can challenge our faith in God as the all-loving, all-knowing, and all-powerful deity that we profess him to be. Why do humans experience hardship, suffering, sickness, and persecution? How can God allow these terrible circumstances to befall anyone, let alone his faithful children?
 
In the Church, we are quick to place blame squarely on sin, and rightly so. For we live in a broken world where sin and evil cause chaos, confusion, and so much pain. But why does the God who loves us and holds the power to end our hardship and misery allow it to persist?
 


Christ Calls Waco Missionary Family

I am so excited to share about our latest church planting endeavor and introduce you to the missionary family who has accepted God’s call to move to Waco and replant Christ Lutheran Church! Chris Meyer has been called to live on mission and redevelop a community of faith to reach new people on the north side of Waco.
 
Chris hails from Thrall, Texas where he currently resides with his wife, Kelli, and their children: Wesley (13) and Claira (11). He is enrolled in Harvest Workers, our online ministry training program and serves as the program’s Student Recruitment Coordinator. He is employed full time by the State of Texas, working remotely as an EMS Specialist for the Department of Health and Human Services. Kelli currently works for an assisted living facility in Taylor and is pursuing a nursing degree.
 


Feeling Powerless?

Here in Texas, we are recovering from a very real crisis. An unprecedented winter storm lasting eight days brought five rounds of winter weather and record cold temperatures across the entire state. While it is true that other parts of the country routinely experience this kind of weather, this winter storm brought Texas to her knees. Due to record high electrical demand and power generation systems that were ill-prepared for cold weather, millions of Texans were left in the dark. And my family was one of them.
 
For over 68 hours we were without the power to keep the lights on, appliances going, furnace running to stay warm, or water systems flowing for drinking and sanitation. In so many ways, we were powerless. Literally we had no electrical power. But more than that, we were facing circumstances beyond our control. Yes, I do realize that I could purchase a whole-home generator and make sure that I always have an abundance of fuel on hand. This crisis has brought about a recognition of just how much we depend upon energy providers to power our homes.


Do You Believe in Miracles?!?

The 1980 Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid, NY served as the backdrop for one of the most famous broadcasting calls in sports history. A rag-tag collection of amateurs made up the USA hockey team as they faced off against the best team in the world: the Soviet Union. Team USA seemingly had no chance going into the match. Yet as the final seconds ticked off the clock, the amateurs from the US had defeated the Soviets 4-3. Al Michaels famously asked his audience this unforgettable question: “Do you believe in miracles?!?”
 
This month we wrap up our four-part series on Jesus’ multiplication teaching from the feeding of the five thousand in Matthew 14. We believe that God is calling us to multiply disciples and churches and we’ve paused to learn all that we can from Jesus’ miracle of multiplication. So far, we established that multiplication starts with followers of Jesus being motivated with a burden for others; responding to Jesus’ call to do something about it by bringing Jesus what we have; and being obedient to Jesus’ command no matter how ridiculous it may seem.
 


Virtually Go Where You Cannot Go

Covid-19 has taken so much from us. So many of our normal routines have been disrupted and cultural norms have been turned upside down. Businesses, churches, schools, civic leaders and servants, healthcare providers and almost every family and household have all had to learn how to adapt. Global mission activity has also been deeply impacted.
 
Short-term mission trips have been a powerful tool to not only do great, kingdom-building ministry around the world, but also to meaningfully engage everyday followers of Jesus in the mission of Jesus while opening their eyes to mission opportunities around them in their own communities. But how can these Jesus’ followers go in a Covid-19 era of travel bans? Recently, a member of one of our churches shared a solution for the countless now cancelled short-term mission trips that had been planned.
 


Missional Accountability

Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ is in the midst of a significant transition: Our Board of Trustees is in the final stages of identifying the next Service Coordinator to lead our church body as Mark Vander Tuig retires after ten years in that role. As a part of the transition, leaders from across the association gathered for an assessment guided by Bob Logan of Logan Leadership. In this assessment, several keys for the future of our association were identified.
 
For me, the most significant takeaway was our need to develop our “missional accountability.” What does this mean? As an association, we have four core values: Free in Christ, Accountable to one another, Rooted in the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions, and Fulfilling Christ’s Great Commission to go and make disciples. While each of the four core values are important, the last identifies our purpose. And what Bob Logan helped us recognize is that while we hold one another accountable to Scripture, theology and morality, we have had little to no accountability for our mission to go and make disciples.