Becoming A Gospel-Shaped Church
Updated: Apr 25, 2019
I was recently reminded by Facebook that it was the one-year anniversary of my first message as transitional pastor to New Hope PresbyterianChurch. As they say, “time flies when you are having fun,” and I can say that it has truly been a blessing to serve as your pastor and I have greatly enjoyed the experience.
After arriving here, I was asked this question— “what does a transitional pastor do?” A great question to ask someone who is just starting out in the pastorate! So,I had to give it some thought, actually went to a training for transitional pastors, and discovered that the role is hard to define. The basic way to understand what transitional pastors do is to assist congregations who are experiencing some form of transition. Most often, the transition is from one pastor to another, but in the new denomination ECO there are many different types of transitions that are being experienced.
One of the unique types of transitions in ECO is the one that occurs when a congregation splits, and a group leaves to form a new church. Often these occur when one group discerns that it is necessary to leave in order to remain faithful to God’s calling as a church. That is the form of transition that has been experienced by all of you. God has called you to stand together in remaining faithful to him.
He has called you to remain faithful to his Word. You have been blessed by God with the formation of New Hope Presbyterian Church.
The work of transitional ministry is a bit mysterious, and it at times seems to be a bit of a puzzle to me. There are three questions which have been brought to my mind that help guide the transition at New Hope:
Who is New Hope Presbyterian Church?
What type of church shall we be?
Where shall New Hope go?
In our first year together, we spent quite a bit of time focusing on the first question. We began by studying and thinking through the Essential Tenets of ECO which teach the basic beliefs of our denomination. Our study of Mark helped us to understand that Christ calls us to make disciples. And since we are Presbyterian, and are Reformed in our theology, a group of us “theology nerds” gathered together to explore what that means.
And although we may not quite be finished with the first question, in our second year we are going to add in question #2—what type of church shall we be? The short answer from scripture is that we ought to be a“gospel-shaped”church. Are we?
Let’s find out! This fall we will begin with a new series of studies on becoming “gospel-shaped” in worship, and during our worship time we will learn about churches who were (or were not) “gospel-shaped” through the“Seven Churches of Revelation”sermon series.
And that brings us to the third question—where shall New Hope go? When we think about this question, one thought comes to our mind—a building of our own! But beyond that definite need, the question really has to do with NewHope’s future which God has in his hands, and faithfully walking with God into the future that he sets before us. It involves taking risks and relying on Him.
Let us remain firmly committed to the work God has called us to do. In doing so, let us keep before us the mission he has called us to do: to welcome, to worship, and to serve.
Blessings to you all, Pastor Dave