Reflections on my calling as Pastor

Every now and then it is good to take stock on how things are going. I recently took that opportunity, reflecting back on where I’ve been and how things have unfolded in my calling as Pastor of FBC Bennington, especially in relation to the hopes and desires the congregation had when we arrived. Here’s a few thoughts on my developing sense of calling, beginning with some key scriptures:

Psalm 138:8
[8] The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands.

2 Timothy 4:1-2
[1] I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: [2] preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

2 Timothy 4:5
[5] As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

1 Peter 5:2-4
[2] Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; [3] not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. [4] And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

***

“Go be a Pastor in New England.”
Paraphrase of God’s Spirit inaudibly impressing his will on me in 2010
(while I was doing the dishes).

***

October 18, 2015 
Result of congregational vote to call
Bob Wiegers as pastor of FBC Bennington:
Unanimously YES.

***

From the church information package compiled by FBC Bennington during their pastoral search: “List the eight activities of ministry…which you feel are most critical activities in which your pastor should be competent. Prioritize the list.”

  1. Preaching
  2. Worship preparation and leading
  3. Pastoral care
  4. Interpreting the faith (“communicate a comprehensive understanding of the Bible and Christian theology in terms relevant to person’s lives”)
  5. Interchurch cooperation
  6. Evangelism
  7. Planning and management
  8. Conflict management

My self-evaluation after almost 18 months on the job. This admittedly puts me at risk of over-estimating myself and thinking too highly of myself. Any good that comes through me is by God’s grace alone.

  1. Preaching – I’m a good preacher. Not great yet, but good. I explain, illustrate, and apply. I am engaging and passionate. I stick to the main point. I do a lot of research, planning, and prayer. Yet I am spontaneous to some degree in every message. I hope I am clear and compelling. I try to say what the scriptures are saying for us here and now, and why it matters. I do my best to be Jesus-centered. I would like to improve at compelling illustrations. People have responded positively.
  2. Worship – I plan a good worship service. I blend old and new music styles, and we play and sing excellently. I keep scripture saturated in the whole service. Songs and scriptures are carefully selected, usually based on the theme of the message. I keep a familiar structure that is prayerful. I try to be appropriately humble and “real” yet reverent.
  3. Pastoral care – I do best at pastoral care for urgent needs. I lead most funerals very, very well (14 so far). I do hospital visitations well. I love office visits and do my best to engage people’s pastoral needs when I am approached.  I feel that I do well with spiritual questions and needs with prayer and scripture one-on-one. I enjoy visits to the shut-ins. I would like to be better at engaging the non-urgent pastoral needs, as well as follow-up and consistency. I do not feel strong at pastoral care of marriage and family issues yet.
  4. Interpreting the faith – My constant desire is to help folks understand the relevance of God’s love to their lives. This is why I have done many different types of Bible studies, and now prayer groups. I have what I feel is a clear and comprehensive theological outlook, which drives my work. I do my best to communicate the hope and love that we can only find in Jesus.
  5. Interchurch cooperation – I have a lot of contact and fellowship with ABC VT NH Southwest Region pastors and churches, attending our monthly prayer breakfast, as well as annual meetings, etc. I also have established strong relationships with other pastors in the Bennington area and have begun partnering in ministry programs, such as the Good Friday service, which was amazingly successful, and our upcoming VBS. I have also attended the Bennington Interfaith Council on occassion, but have felt that group is not a good fit for me at this time.
  6. Evangelism – My efforts, and our efforts as a family, to reach our neighbors and contacts in Bennington with the love of Jesus has shown some fruit already. It is slow but encouraging. I’ve established a rapport with many, and had surprisingly deep spiritual conversations and have been able to share my faith with multiple new friends, as has Michelle. We have seen people come to faith already, both in and out of the church. I am also making a lot of inroads with the recovery community, and we have many natural connections through the schools with families.
  7. Planning and management – I have waited to acclimate to the church before embarking on a period of planning, which I am actively praying about now. This is not a strength of mine, however. I have planned and managed various Bible studies and events as they come up, but I have not yet done long-range planning.
  8. Conflict management – There has not yet been much conflict, but I do my best to handle it calmly and carefully and directly, as Jesus’s command in Matthew 18 would have us. I tend to be conflict-averse, but I am willing to enter in as needed.

Also from the church information package compiled by FBC Bennington during their pastoral search: “List additional emphases of your vision that have not been covered in the ministry activities above…”

  1. Ability to relate warmly to members to make them feel comfortable in church and outside.
  2. Having a family that becomes part of our church.
  3. Ability to relate to all ages on some level.
  4. Has a sense of humor.

My self-evaluation after almost 18 months on the job:

  1. Relate warmly: I think I exhibit this ability, although it is sometimes hard to relate to everyone. I do much better individually or in small groups than larger groups.
  2. Family involvement: We are all highly involved.
  3. Relate to all ages: I think I do this well. I relate to the elderly on down to the littlest.
  4. Sense of humor: I have an admittedly quirky sense of humor. I find that I enjoy making witty comments that make people laugh. I like to laugh at myself too.

***

The longer I’m at this beautiful and strange thing called being Pastor here in Bennington, the more and more I’m convinced of God’s calling. God is faithful.

Advertisements