What is your Resurrection moment?
Pastor Dave: There are bunches, but here are three quick ones.
Interview for the job.
One was when I interviewed for the job at Resurrection. I came down to the interview to basically get the bishop off my back because I did not want to come here. But I said -- OK, I will be open to the Holy Spirit.
The interview went on for three hours because we were laughing, and they were sharing their joys. There were tears shed in that meeting because they had just gone through the death of their pastor. I felt totally comfortably with them. I felt at home with them.
When my wife and I walked out of the door we looked at each other. We knew. I had the sense of being with genuine people who accept you for who you are.
Keeping a sense of community: Small group ministries.
Another moment was early on. When I came here, we started growing pretty quickly. When we started growing, I had a bunch of conversations with some of the people who had been here for a long time and had been a part of Pastor Olson’s illness and death.
They would say this to me: Pastor, I don’t know all of our new members. How can I get to know them? What can we do to get to know them and celebrate relationships?
We looked into how we could keep the personality and the culture of a close, caring community even though God is calling us to follow the great commission and grow. That was the beginning of ChristCare.
We started small group ministries. We thought that even if we are a bigger church we will find intentional ways of inviting people into relationships and keep our sense of community. As we grew in numbers, people were still wanting for our church to be an intimate place where people are free to be in relationships. That was what ChristCare was about.
Reducing debt and reaching out into the community.
Another moment was the last capital fund appeal to reduce debt. We had debt from the last building expansion.
I was going to be gone on sabbatical for part of the summer, and I asked a group to organize a capital fund appeal.
I get back and asked how did it go? I sat down with Mike McCarty (one of the appeal organizers) who told me everyone agreed that it seemed so selfish to be talking about debt. He said: You keep telling us all the time it is not about us but that it is about others.
That morphed into Serving & Saving for Mission. We made this commitment to support the synod’s mission endowment. We made the commitment to do three years ($25,000 each year) for some kind of mission.
The first project became a Habitat for Humanity house. That was the first Habitat home that Resurrection got really heavily involved in. We were the sponsoring church for the family. So it was like our house.
It transformed this parish. That became the way we acted and behaved ourselves into a new way of living for others. The church is not about living for us. This church is a place to equip us and give us the opportunity to be there for others.
That came from a group of leaders that said we just don’t want to do a debt reduction campaign.
A capital campaign is about way more than the building. That campaign was about way more than debt. It transformed the congregation.
What does Resurrection Lutheran Church mean to you?
Pastor Dave: I am so grateful for the privilege of being who I am, of getting to be a pastor in this place, in this community. From the moment of the interview until now, I have been accepted for who I am and not because I am the pastor or because of my authority or role.
I get to give first communion instruction. At the end of that instruction, I bring these young people who have spent a number of weeks talking about the gift of God’s welcome into my office for an interview.
For a lot of them, it feels like they are coming to see the principal. And then what I get to do is to yuck it up with them.
I make the interview an experience of what I believe our vision statement is about -- namely that we are a Resurrection people so deeply grounded in grace and the gospel. And not in the demands of God but the free gift of God, the promise of God.
I structure it to where they all of a sudden they realize that this isn't a test and this isn’t about how smart I am or how dumb I am. This is about that God welcomes me, and this pastor has been yucking it up with me.
It is such a privilege to do that.
Here is another way to put it. For years, I went to Center Grove schools on one of their career days.
I got to go and sit in a circle. Every 15 minutes, a bunch of fifth graders would come and ask what I do for a living.
I’d have our church directory to show them. I’d bring my Hebrew and Greek Bible. Here is what I would tell them about what I do: I get to love God and love people, and they pay me to do that. That is not a bad gig.
Resurrection is a place where I can do that and be myself. I don’t have to play the role of pastor. I can be the sort of goofy guy that I am.
I can’t tell you the enormous privilege it is for me to be all of that with a staff team, and in particular a pastoral colleague (Pastor Mitch). With the way that I want to be a pastor, if he wasn't here either I would have been gone years ago or this church would have gone up in flames. Resurrection is a large enough of church where it needs gifts that I don’t have.
I don’t want to go any place else. And I think of a lot of people here don’t want me to go anyplace. So I can lead in a way that can help make wonderful things happen here. But I could not do that without him (Pastor Mitch). I could not do that without the staff and leadership we have here.