On July 1 I will officially become the pastor at the United Methodist Church of LeMars. It will be a privilege and an honor to lead this part of the family of God.
A couple of days ago I wrote about what I will miss when Julie & I say "goodbye" to New Sharon. Today I want to mention some things that I am looking forward to when we say "hello" to the people in LeMars.
1) I'm looking forward to leading a group of people who aren't afraid of change. The congregation has experienced an incredible among of change in the last few years. I believe these changes have paved the way for a bright future. One of the things I have told a number of people about the LeMars' church is that they don't have a Sunday School program. Rather, they invest their energy into a midweek program that has paid great dividends. That's a change in the way of doing ministry that few congregations could begin to imagine. It is this imaginative spirit and a willingness not to do things just because "that's the way we've always done it," that excites me.
2) Since one of my spiritual gifts in teaching, I'm looking forward to helping the church build a strong adult discipleship ministry. I've long believed in trickle down spirituality. By that I mean the spiritual depth and maturity of an entire congregation is determined primarily by the spiritual depth and maturity of its leaders. One cannot pass on something that one does not possess. In the little time that I spent with a few folks from LeMars, I sensed their desire to deepen their faith.
3) Having lead "contemporary" worship for more than a decade and having developed the technological skills necessary to do this, I'm looking forward to leading the church into the brave new world of 21st century ministry. This is not always an easy transition, but I believe the people have demonstrated that they are up to the challenge.
4) I'm looking forward to developing new friendships and experiencing the personal growth that will come with learning to love God's people in this congregation. In the end, Christian life and ministry come down to relationships. It's all about loving God and loving our neighbors.
5) Since I mentioned that I will miss cheesy potatoes, I have to say living in the ice cream capital of the world sounds like a fair trade. I'm glad there are plenty of places I'll be able to ride my bike around LeMars. I have a feeling I'm going to need the exercise!