Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory,
for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness! – Psalm 115:1
First, let me say a word of thanks for calling me to serve EFCA’s North Central District. As I near the end of my second year as District Superintendent, I can genuinely say that I love this district and am finding great joy as I serve our pastors, church leaders, and churches.
The past year has been encouraging for our family. Samuel, our son, is about to complete his first year at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. He has moved into an apartment in Prospect Park and has connected with CRU and Hope Community Church. Our daughter Grace is finishing up high school through the PSEO program at the University of Northwestern in Saint Paul. She will attend Trinity International University in the coming year. Teri and I have become members of Rockpoint Church (EFC) in Lake Elmo and are in a small group that meets in our neighborhood. I often encourage pastoral leaders to pray that God would “move their hearts” to the community in which they serve. God is doing this in us, resulting in a sincere love for this state and its people (snow and all). To share one example, I was still happy to be here on February 24th, when I was stuck in the snow 10 feet from my driveway, needing to be at First Free Minneapolis in 45 minutes to preach that morning.
I am grateful for many opportunities to serve during the past year. Ministry highlights include:
- Visiting churches in Greater Minnesota and throughout the Twin Cities
- Walking alongside church leadership teams as they navigate difficult waters
- Growing relationships, serving alongside and leading our NCD staff
- Preaching and teaching throughout the district
- Having strategic conversations with pastors and church leaders about what God might accomplish through their churches and in their communities.
- Connecting with leaders from EFCA National and our sister EFCA districts
- Serving on the Boards of Elim Care and Trinity International University
- Empowering current district pastors and church leaders to greater service and recruiting new leaders for the NCD and the broader EFCA family
As most of us know, my personal ministry represents only a small portion of the overall work of the district, so it has been a true joy for me to watch our NCD staff serve the pastors, church leaders, and churches of the district (and our broader EFCA family). My personal conviction that our NCD staff is far and away the best resource we can offer has grown considerably over the past year. You should be proud of the team that has been assembled and eager to invite them to walk alongside you in ministry. Put another way, you want the biblical convictions and thoughtful leadership of Dave Linde, the passion for multiplication at every level of Dan Moose, the prayer lifestyle and student ministry experience of Glenn Olson, the missions wisdom of Steve Austvold, the pastoral heart of Kelley Johnson (and Jim Anderson before him). We will, of course, continue to develop and recommend excellent ministry resources, but it is the people themselves on our district team that can make the biggest difference in your life and ministry.
Last year, we entered into a strategic partnership with Pure Desire Ministries. Our intent was to develop a long-term partner that would come alongside our church leaders in the critical area of sexual temptation. All Christian leaders are recovering sinners in one way or another, and I want to remind you that this ministry is available and encourage you to come to us with any struggle (in this or another area). We will walk alongside you, as peers at the foot of the cross, to help you take steps toward healing, wholeness, and renewed service in the body of Christ.
At our 2018 district conference, we shared a renewed vision that reaffirmed our commitment to keep “churches first” and identified the five key areas of opportunity: (1) leadership pipeline, (2) personal evangelism, (3) all people, (4) gospel and Scripture and (5) church revitalization. This year, we are excited to share a strategic plan for our district that will help us take tangible steps toward this vision. It will include key commitments, important priorities, and specific initiatives. I am grateful for the chance to share it with you at the conference business session.
One key initiative that deserves special mention is the upcoming North Central Foundation. In our view, a renewed mission needs to be accompanied by a strategic plan and significant financial investment. So in 2019/2020, our NCD Board of Directors and district staff will work to establish a foundation for the purpose of making strategic investments in church revitalization and multiplication.
I also want to mention an area of personal growth over the past year. Through the people in my life and time in His word, God has led me to pursue personal growth in prayer over the past year. I feel I have taken a meaningful step forward in my confidence that God works powerfully through our prayers. I am grateful for this and am working to continue to grow in this conviction (and the corresponding practice of prayer). I am not yet where I want to be but am further down the trail.
In conclusion, I want to say, from my heart, that I am so grateful that God has planted our family in Minnesota. We are excited to see what he has in store in the coming year, grateful to be part of this family of churches, and eagerly expecting God to use the NCD to make a gospel-shaped difference in Minnesota and beyond.
North Central District
Evangelical Free Church of America