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September 19, 2012

Fieldwork

Fieldwork: a practical and hands-on experience for seminarians at a local congregation to be completed while attending classes.

Fieldwork is meant to be beneficial to both the seminarian (and his family) as well as the host congregation. Despite any feelings that Timothy or I expressed about our placement, we have stepped into this environment. To explain this, I need to give you all a profile of our congregation. Keep in mind that this is my impression after two weeks of attendance.

Our Savior Lutheran Church in Fenton MO is a congregation in search of a leader. Pastor Etherton stepped down in May of 2011 and they are in the call process under the leadership of Interim Pastor Foss. The church celebrated its 50th anniversary on Sunday September 9, 2012, which Timothy and I were fortunate enough to take part in all the festivities. The congregation is in desperate need of leadership. This is not a judgment on Pastor Foss' abilities. The congregation simply needs someone to take a vested interest in the them. They need someone who is in ministry with them for the long hall. In the meantime, congregational focus has turned inward. Members are focusing on their relationships with each other. This is not a bad thing. This is necessary for a congregation to pull through a rough time. However, this does pose a problem for visitors (or new fieldworkers) seeking to become integrated in the congregation. The environment does not feel welcoming when all the church members are talking amongst themselves.

In summary, Our Savior is a place in need of growth and change. Now, Timothy and I are by no means equipped to handle this kind of change. And we certainly wouldn't presume that we could be a stimulus for this in the congregation. That has the Lord's work written all over it. But this is the kind of environment I am excited to become a part of: a place that is in need of a change and that will be changed through God's power. A place in turmoil for the time being but will find stability in the Lord.

Returning to my first though (that Our Savior will be a beneficial place for us), Timothy and I know that our ministry will be rough. God has revealed to Timothy that we will not be sent stable places, such as what we found at Mount Calvary. Those places are certainly easy to fall into, with or without an overwhelming welcoming environment. We will be sent to places that will challenge us, places that require hope in the Lord to work in them and change them for the better. Knowing that we are headed for a dynamic (because that term is better than difficult) ministry, I cannot think of a better start than with Our Savior Church. A congregation without a permanent pastor is not something that we will ever experience again, but I'm sure we'll be walking into the aftermath of what being without a pastor can do many times over. This will be a challenging place, but I know that the Lord will bless us richly through it.

Our Savior, you are a unique place that deserves to be uniquely loved. I pray that Timothy and I are able to love you like our Lord does.

2 comments:

  1. Timothy and Marie,

    The beauty is that God can use anyone and anything to impact that church community - and then impact the world through that church community. Head pastors aren't the only ones capable of significant impact. "For as in one body we have many members,and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads,with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness." (Romans 12:4-8, ESV)

    The Church is one - Mount Calvary and Our Savior, while separate groups of people are part of Christ's Church.

    Take comfort in that!

    I don't say this lightly as someone who has gotten weary of changing communities over the years - but it has made me resolutely sure of one thing God is crafting you to be His instrument in the world. "For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." (James 1:3-4, ESV).

    Don't make the mistake I often have of taking too long to let your roots grow. As often is the case - the actions of showing love, even if done out of mental obedience rather than the conviction of the heart can yield genuine love and concern. "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments." (1 John 5:3a, ESV).

    So, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect" (Romans 12:2, ESV).

    Be confident, not in yourselves, but in the awesome power of Christ crucified in you by the power of the Holy Spirit.

    So be encouraged! You are loved and you are being used in the plans of the Creator of the Universe, and Redeemer of us all.

    Through the Love of Christ,
    Wesley



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  2. Thanks, Wesley! You sure know how to encourage. That is definitely one of your gifts. I'm not sure what "category" that would be, but you are a great encourager. There are moments in my life that I know would have been much darker if it weren't for you! You're awesome! God bless!

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