Last month, I received a call to be University Pastor at Concordia University in St. Paul, MN. In the usual order of our church body, a call requires prayerful deliberation. About a week ago I declined the call to Concordia after much prayerful deliberation. I remain in my current call at Christ Memorial and Reliant in St. Louis.
It was a challenging period of prayer, conversation, and self-reflection. The call to Concordia was a compelling one. President Tom Ries brings a strong, missional leadership to CSP. After getting to know him a bit, he is exactly the right man to lead a small, private university into the muddied future of higher education. It would have been invigorating to work with him as well as a phenomenal faculty and staff. With a remarkably diverse student body (The Twin Cities are a gateway city for immigration), this urban university is an exciting place to do ministry.
There were a few factors that kept me in St. Louis. The most compelling was the people that I'm called to. My congregation is not the largest or the flashiest, the hippest or the trendiest. But we have a people who love Jesus and desire to be on his mission. I really believe we have a unique Christian community poised for more and more dynamic work in the world. We are aligned to do some significant ministry in a challenging post-Christian context. I thank God for this.
More and more, I'm understanding what it means to be devoted to a people and a place. I used to admire the resumes of pastors who had served in numerous congregations all over the country. Now I've come to realize that may not be healthy. I felt like I began to hit my stride at five years. So what will another five do? Or ten? I can't predict how long I will pastor in this place, but for now God has told me. It is this and no other.