Blame it on COVID-19

I’m putting together these letters and writing during the great pandemic of 2020. Just yesterday I was on a video conference call with the mayor and a bunch of other pastors in town. The topic was churches and the virus, of course, and a missionary from Mission Aviation Fellowship was telling us about the added dilemma in East Africa of the swarms of locusts attacking several countries. Mid-sentence, there was a 6.5 magnitude earthquake that hit us.

The darkly funny realization hit me of being in a chat with 20 church pastors at the intersection of a pandemic, plague of locusts and an earthquake. Looking back it’s not as funny–had it been signaling the end of the world, the 20 of us had obviously got something wrong as we were still all there to continue our meeting.

I’ll talk more about plagues and doom later. My goal today is to set the backdrop for this blog. It’s too easy for a pastor to lead a church when he has actually been called to shepherd it. To lead a church from a shepherding standpoint there needs to be a paternal undercurrent to leadership. All the facets of strong and competent leadership are certainly necessary, of course. Even so, caring for a congregation is an often overlooked and non-negotiable component to being a good pastor. My decision to take on the Lead Pastor position at CTK boiled down to a failure and a surprise.

Our founding pastor left abruptly about 18 months ago–to pastor another church in our network (before you jump to conclusions). In the following weeks, the conversations I had with my boss in the CTK Network centered around whether or not I should pursue the Lead Pastor position. At one point Cliff asked me, “Do you love the people in this church?”. My hesitation was my answer. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy the church or my job there, that word, “love” just sat oddly with me for a minute.

It occurred to me that I have never had ambitions of being the pastor of a church. I didn’t set out looking for a career as a lead pastor. The real question became, was I being led to be the pastor of this church? I had to sit with that one for a week or two. It crept up on me until I suddenly realized I did, indeed, feel like I was hearing God’s call for me to lead this particular church–to shepherd a specific family of people in Nampa. A little later, the network leadership and the congregation affirmed that call and the rest is recent history.

I love these people…unabashedly and without hesitation. I love being with them. I love listening to them sing together when a particular song seems to connect with the whole room. I love the “aha!” and “can he say that in church?” faces as I teach. More than anything, I love potlucks. For the eating, yes–but mostly for the laughing, the stories and the feeling that we are more than 70mins and a cup of coffee on Sunday morning.

In the midst of the isolation of this pandemic I have been writing and posting letters and thoughts on our social media which gave me the idea of creating and continuing a collection of my thoughts and experiences as the pastor of CTK Nampa. So, here goes…

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