When it was announced a few months ago that our lead pastor, Dennis, was going to be moving on and we would be getting sent a new pastor (I work in a United Methodist church), it was bittersweet. Dennis has been an extraordinary mentor and visionary that has challenged me and grown our church in a lot of different ways. At the same time, I had started to feel that a change was needed – not necessarily a new pastor, but something that would shake up a church that I felt was starting to plateau. The problem was that we didn’t have a ton of say on who replaced Dennis, and that worried me. On a scale from 1 to 10 of “how skeptical are you?”, I was about a 9 1/2.
That all changed last night. I had the opportunity to spend a couple hours with Samuel Scheffler, who will become our new lead pastor in July. Not only did he seem like a genuinely good guy who I could work well with, I was impressed by what he viewed his role to be on staff. There were a few things in particular that Pastor Sam said that made me giddy…
(1) The whole point of the church is to share Jesus Christ with people.
It doesn’t get much simpler than this. I realize that this should be standard with people – but I’ve worked enough in churches to know that this isn’t always our priority. Pastor Sam repeated this about a dozen times throughout the evening. In fact, he jumped about two levels of excitement when I told him that a kid had prayed accept Christ with my wife that same night. There’s just something about knowing that this is your pastor’s priority and passion that is reassuring.
(2) I believe in prayer.
Pastor Sam made it a point to let us know that if he didn’t agree with an idea or direction we wanted to go immediately, it was because he wasn’t doing anything without praying about it. Talk about being willing to let God lead…
(3) I will let you fail.
I like the idea of my lead pastor encouraging and enabling ideas that may or may not pan out to try and share Jesus more effectively. I don’t think the church embraces risk enough. My church likes to claim a reputation of being open to change. Being flexible is different from being risk takers, though. Pastor Sam made it clear last night that he’s willing to fall down and break a leg or two on our way to winning souls. I can get excited about this frame of mind.
(4) I will always let you know what I expect of you.
From the second chair, it’s awfully nice knowing exactly what your leader wants and expects. This kind of clarity will keep me from stressing out when I’m juggling different roles and unsure of what I’m supposed to be doing with my time. I think a strong leader should always lay out his/her expectations for those under him and set the tone for that — I’m excited to know Pastor Sam agrees.
It’s going to be hard to lose Pastor Dennis as a leader and mentor – he’s the guy that brought me on to this staff and I’ve got a great deal of respect and loyalty to him. Last night really helped me to be at ease with gaining a new leader and the direction he plans to take us. In fact, I’m pretty excited about it…