Pastor’s Al Blog

July 21,2021                                                          Transition Team

You may have noticed that the church as depicted in the New Testament was led by teams, not individuals. Individuals did stand out within those teams, but as team leaders. Jesus had His team (the 12 disciples) and among them Peter stood out as one learning to be a team leader. Paul had his team that traveled with him and he often dispatched members of the team to perform certain tasks. These teams were both support/accountability groups for the leader and training avenues for those on the team.

I have a team within IPM. There is my coach to whom I am accountable and with whom I visit every week. I share ideas with him for evaluation and counsel. He prays for me and mentors me as new challenges are encountered in the transition process. There are two interims whom I coach. And there is the Director of Coaching and Church Relations. This team has an integral role in my ministry at Zoar.

With the help and counsel of the Elder Board, I have also coalesced a local team with whom to work closely. You will hear me refer to them as the Transition Team (TT). This team will work closely with me in preparing Zoar for calling, welcoming, and supporting our new pastor. They will work with me in assessing the health of Zoar Church, analyzing that data, and prioritizing the issues to be addressed in order to improve our health. And they will guide Zoar in formulating a compelling vision of God using the gifts He has entrusted to us to meet needs in our community, so the Kingdom of God is increased.

These are the people who have committed to serve on the Transition Team for the next six months:
              Eric Beye
              Darrin Eddy
              Gordon Enns
              Audrie Gramkow
              Jason Herndon
              Andrea Johnson
              Janet McMahon
              Mark Nachtigall
              Mike Prieb
              Bill Ridge
              Barb Tuxhorn

 The TT will meet every Sunday (2:30-4:30 PM) preparing the way for the Pastoral Search Team which will be appointed according to Zoar’s constitution in early 2022. The first meeting of the TT will be this Sunday, July 25. Please pray for us every day throughout the next six months.


July 14, 2021                                     Remember When; Remember Why

God places high value on remembering people, places, and events that He has used to shape our spiritual lives?

Note the instructions of Jesus on the night he was betrayed. He took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
— 1 Corinthians 11:23–26 (ESV)  

Jesus is quoted twice within a couple verses: REMEMBER ME. “This is my body; as you eat it remember me … This cup is the new covenant in my blood; as you drink it remember me.” Remember Who I am … Remember from where I came … Remember what I did for you … Remember what I promised.

God also gave us a list of heroes of faith in Hebrews 11, then said: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:1–2 ESV) Remembering heroes of faith is a source of inspiration and encouragement. The God whom they trusted and obeyed is the same God we serve today!

So, it is important to remember the heroes of the faith. But it is also important to remember places and events where God does a mighty work among us. I remind you again of God’s instruction to Joshua: “Take twelve stones from the very place where the priests’ feet stood firmly, bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight. When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’, then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground’ so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” (Joshua 4:2–3, 21-22, 24 ESV)

God instructed Joshua to make a cairn in Gilgal of the stones taken from the Jordon River to remember the place God provided rest after crossing the river on dry ground. And when future generations asked about the cairn, they were to remember how God brought them through the Jordon on dry ground.

It is equally important for us to remember people, places, and events God has used in the history of Zoar Church. That is what we will do following the old fashioned pot-luck on Sunday, July 18. This will be a fun and inspirational time of worship and praise. I hope you plan to join us.

July 7, 2021                                                      Journey Wall

It has been my privilege, during the first two months at Zoar, to visit with 121 individuals during 59 visits. Most of the visits were in your homes and many included meals or desserts that exceeded anything I needed, but that I thoroughly enjoyed. Thank you to each of you for taking time to share your hospitality, your life story and your perceptions of Zoar with me. There are many with whom I have not been able to meet; though the time officially designated to do so has elapsed, I would still like to get together with you at your convenience.

Now, on July 18, following an old-fashioned pot-luck dinner, I will lead our congregation on a nostalgic walk down memory lane which I call a Journey Wall. This will help me tie together all the fragments I learned during these visits. I hope you will plan to participate whether you have been part of Zoar Church for most of your life or you have started attending recently, whether you are one of the 121 with whom I have visited or not. There will be something for each of us to share and to learn.

So, what will we be doing?

 I will have a lengthy sheet of paper on the wall with a timeline representing the church’s existence from inception to the present. The timeline will be broken into segments according to years or eras. Everyone will be seated at tables according to a system that mixes genders, ages, and family units. At the tables will be post-it notes of various colors on which we will be instructed to write certain kinds of memories and place them at the appropriate place on the timeline.

Once all the post-it notes have been positioned, we will briefly talk about what we observe on our church timeline and what we can learn from those observations. This is, for most churches, a joyous time of celebrating God’s past blessings (whether people or events) and remembering how God has brought us through past pain and disappointment.

Times of remembrance are important. Remember the instructions of God to Joshua: “Take twelve men from the people and command them, saying, ‘Take twelve stones from the very place where the priests’ feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.’ 
 “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’, then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground’ so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”                        — Joshua 4:2–3, 21-22, 24 (ESV)

The centuries of time have not changed the value of remembering from where we have come and the God Who has brought us to this place. I do hope you will join us for this time of celebration on Sunday, July 18.

July 1, 2021                                          Initiating a Weekly Blog

I am beginning, July 1, to write a blog each week. It will be devotional in nature sometimes; at other times it will be a platform to communicate important details, decisions, and direction. Therefore, I encourage you to develop the habit of checking it weekly. This seems to be the best platform available to me to keep you informed about and involved in this interim process. 

The elders approved my weekly schedule shortly after I arrived, but I failed to make it available to the congregation. Please forgive me for being delinquent in informing you. I am at Zoar on Sundays (hours vary according to scheduled meetings and appointments). Mondays are devoted to sermon preparation and Tuesdays to administration and Interim Pastor Ministries responsibilities in my home office in Hillsboro. I am in the office at Zoar Church (9:00 AM to 6:00 PM) Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
The contract with Interim Pastors Ministries grants one week of vacation each quarter (not to be compounded). The first of these will be July 2-5 when Cheryl and I attend a wedding in Colorado. I will also endeavor to have a representative of MB ministries (MB Foundation, Tabor, MB Missions, USMB, etc.) preach/present one Sunday each quarter.
I have completed two months as interim pastor at Zoar. During this time, I have been preaching a series on Christian Character based on Galatians 5:22-23. Jesus said, as recorded in John 13:35: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” That love is described in our text and in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. These sermons remain available for review (or if you missed a Sunday) either by watching the entire worship service or by listening to just the sermon on Zoar’s website.

May and June were dedicated to getting to know you and Zoar Church from your perspective. I made 59 visits that included 121 individuals. Thank you for inviting me into your homes, your lives, and your perception of Zoar. July will be dedicated to assessing the health of our church; I will talk about some of the assessment tools I use in future blogs. On Sunday, August 29, I will share my cumulative assessment report with the congregation following a fellowship dinner. Please reserve that date,  I hope all of you will be able to participate in that crucial gathering.