Current Call: St. Timothy’s Lutheran Church (San Jose, California)
Denominational Affiliation: NALC
Basic Biographical Information: Married for 33 years. My wife, Mary, and I have been blessed with four children and just recently with two grandchildren. I graduated from San Jose State University in 1982 with a B.A. in Religious Studies. I received my Masters of Divinity in 1986 from Luther Seminary, and earned a Doctorate of Ministry in Biblical Preaching in 2013, also from Luther Seminary. I enjoy golfing, fishing, working in the yard and spending time with family and friends.
My experience of God’s activity in my life is directly related to the priority I give to the relationship He has established with me in His cross and in my Baptism. On days when my relationship with Christ is central, giving Him the time and the place in my life He deserves, I see His hand at work in many ways. In contrast, when my relationship with Him gets set aside and I busy myself with other priorities, even though He is still actively at work, my experience of His activity is not the same.
Personally, I experience God opening and closing doors in response to specific prayers I offer. He provides opportunity, on a daily basis, for witnessing to people I had not on my own even considered. He strengthens the relationships I have at work. He grows and develops the partnership I share with other sisters and brothers in the Church. He strengthens and increases the love I have for my wife and family.
He also, on an even more personal level, enables me to grow in my individual relationship with Christ. Through His Holy Spirit, He strengthens my faith, provides an assurance and a peace that I know come from Him, and gives me the gifts and insights and wisdom I need to live each day as a follower of Jesus. The more disciplined I am in making time to spend with my Lord, the more fully I realize and recognize His daily activity in my life.
In my role as a pastor, the same relationship-driven principle has proven to be true. Having had the joy and privilege of serving for more than 30 years in a Word and Sacrament ministry, I have seen God actively at work in the lives of countless people. The power of His Word, faithfully preached and taught, and His life-giving presence in the Sacraments, regularly and properly administered, have had an eternal impact on the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of people I have served and for whom our Lord died.
Particularly, over the past eight years, since the time our congregation made a conscious and deliberate decision to move away from being a program-driven ministry to becoming a disciple-making ministry, I have seen God’s Spirit at work in transforming lives in ways I would never have imagined. Regardless of how long they have been connected to the church, the same life-transforming work is taking place. Regular Sunday morning attenders are being transformed into faithful and committed followers of Christ. People who used to volunteer their time because of their membership in the church are now serving in ministries because they have fallen in love with their risen Lord. Vocations in life are being viewed not only as a means of earning a living to support their families, but as an opportunity for living out their faith as members in God’s family. Priorities are different. Life’s purpose is not the same. The definition of success has dramatically changed. God is at work, through His Holy Spirit, to grow and transform lives into the shape and image of Christ.
I have seen it happen in the lives of congregational members as they have committed themselves to worship and opened themselves to a new and a living relationship with Jesus. I have experienced it in my own life as I give priority to the disciplines of the Christian life and to the relationship God has established with me in His Son. I know it works. I have seen it happen. I experience it on a daily basis. God is active and faithful in His promises as we open our lives to His guiding and life-changing presence.
A Scripture that has become more meaningful to me over the years is one that is at the heart of our witness to the world. The apostle Peter says, “In your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15 NIV).
I have grown to love this verse and take it to heart because it speaks to the essential nature of our shared calling in Christ. We are not simply called to place our hope in Jesus for the sake of our own salvation, but to be ready and willing to speak to others about the hope we have in Him.
At the heart of our Lord’s Great Commission is a call to each of us to share openly and confidently with others about our relationship with Jesus. We need to live in ways that reflect the relationship we have with Him and then be ready to tell why that relationship is so important and the difference it has made for us.
Faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by the Word of Christ. God works through our spoken words to open and prepare hearts for His saving work. The Holy Spirit uses our witness to lead people to Jesus. If we, as the Church, do not share the faith and the name of Christ, no one else will. As a result, He calls us to “set apart Christ as Lord” and “always be prepared” to share what we have been given with others who are loved eternally in Him.
If every believer in the Church would take seriously the importance of this calling in their life, our witness to the world would naturally follow.
For more than 32 years as a parish pastor, I have served in two large congregations, each with Christian schools and multiple staff. I served as president and on the Board of the Fellowship of Confessional Lutherans from 1988 to 2008. I was an active member in Lutheran CORE in the years leading up to the NALC. I served on the eight-member Visioning & Planning Team that led to the NALC’s formation in 2010. I served for seven years as dean of the Central Pacific Mission District and have served, since its inception, on the NALC Life-to-Life Discipleship Team. During these years, I have grown to love the Church and its Head more than anything else in life. The experiences, the challenges, the blessings and joys of these experiences have served to prepare my heart to accept whatever calling the Lord gives.
In the role of bishop, as pastor to the pastors, my experience as a pastor has prepared me to understand the challenges of the ministry, the opportunities it avails and the helpful and harmful expectations that come with the office. Some of those expectations are self-imposed. Others come from outside of and from within the church. My years of experience will enable me to support the pastors of the NALC in ways that will be lifegiving to the clergy and that will keep the priorities of the ministry and its function in its proper place.
As mentioned in my response to how I experience God active in my life, the past eight years in leading a congregation from a program-driven approach to ministry to a disciple-making commitment have prepared me to provide insight and perspective on what needs to happen in a congregation for disciple-making to become the central focus, and why such a focus is needed in today’s world. My experience with disciple-making is one in which we have used many outside resources to shape our congregational efforts but always with the goal of contextualizing those resources for maximum benefit in the particular setting. My years of experience have given me an appreciation for the work that has been done in developing those resources, as well as for the contextualization that is needed to enable them to have their most effective impact.
Having worked alongside Lutheran pastors throughout the country, I have come to appreciate the different pieties found within the NALC congregations and clergy, and the differing approaches taken in various places to reach people for Christ. No one evangelical approach or pietistic perspective will work for everyone or in every place.
As a church body that spans North America and that is building partnerships throughout the global community, my experience will serve to recognize and support the vast and varied ways in which God is working to build and grow His Church.
I have also enjoyed partnering in my ministry with both male and female clergy. For the past ten years, I have experienced firsthand the benefits of serving on a pastoral team in which the strengths of each have blessed our congregation. The life experience and the differing perspectives that each have brought have complemented the preaching and teaching ministry, and have served as assets in our counseling and disciple-making efforts.
Finally, God has developed within me a strong personal relationship with Jesus and I have come to realize the importance of that relationship as the power that drives my ministry. I would be a strong advocate as bishop for pastors to be disciplined in their time each day with the Lord. They would hear that encouragement from me regularly. They would be challenged by me to make it a first priority. All of our work is for naught if it is not grounded and rooted and driven by a deep and abiding relationship with Christ.
I have a pastor’s heart, a love for Christ’s Church and a passion for reaching those who do not yet have a living relationship with Jesus Christ. I have a deep desire to lead people not only to a saving faith in Jesus Christ in which their eternal salvation is secure but to also use their lives while on this earth for His service. The abundant life Jesus describes begins here and now as we live each day in relationship with Him.
Having served in team ministries throughout my pastorate, I have seen and experienced the benefits of the varied gifts in the Body of Christ. I am not afraid of delegating responsibility, nor afraid of making hard decisions when needed. I have strong administrative skills and have developed the ability to manage several tasks at the same time.
I am a good listener and take a humble approach and attitude in my work. I have lived through a wide range of pastoral experiences in which I have seen the value and importance of setting clear priorities for ministry and clear parameters for congregational expectations and life.
I am a good preacher, Christ Centered in my proclamation, and view the preaching of God’s Word as the primary and most important task of the pastor. I would lift up this priority in my care and support of NALC pastors. I have worked with traditional and contemporary worship settings for nearly 20 years and understand and appreciate the value in both. I will not allow myself or the NALC to promote any single approach to worship at the expense of other life giving and Christ-honoring styles that include the basic and essential worship components.
I have developed a strong theological understanding of God’s Word. I can rightly divide His Word of truth in Law and Gospel terms, and am able to clearly communicate each in my preaching and teaching. I understand the distinction between our justification by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and the ongoing process of being sanctified throughout life, by the power of the Holy Spirit, until we conform to the image and likeness of Christ. I recognize the importance of allowing each to hold their proper place and giving each their proper focus. I am committed to the Lutheran Confessions, to the centrality of the Gospel message of Jesus Christ and His cross in our proclamation, to orthodox teaching and to the Means of Grace offered to us in the Word and Sacraments.
I acknowledge and respect the strengths and differences within the ecumenical community and find tremendous value in working within the Body of Christ for the greater good and witness of the Church in the world. I believe the NALC can grow in becoming a recognized, reliable and theologically faithful resource for supporting other church bodies in their disciple-making efforts.
I have gifts for visioning that I believe will serve and strengthen our collective witness and work. As we focus on what needs to happen in the short-term, we need to always be thinking and planning and praying for what God is leading us to do in the years ahead. Those gifts have been used in the ministries I have served.
One of the strengths I would bring to the office of bishop is a deep and abiding relationship with Christ. I have grown to understand from my own experience the apostle Paul’s words that “when I am weak, then I am strong.” In the same regard, in the words of Jesus, in His depiction of He as the Vine and we as the branches, and that “apart from Him we can do nothing,” I have learned and taken to heart the importance of staying closely connected to Him if my ministry is to bear any lasting fruit.
Disciple-making should continue as the key and central emphasis for our denomination. Bishop John has done a tremendous job of setting a vision for the NALC, based upon the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus. For this emphasis to continue, we cannot allow it to be reduced to simply one thing we are doing among many. To be faithful to the calling we have been given, this priority must remain first and foremost in our efforts.
So important is this disciple-making emphasis that it can and will directly shape and define the impact we have in the world for Christ. If we move away from this priority as our central focus, we will not only quickly lose what we have worked so hard to put into place over the past several years, but we will also, just as quickly, lose our relevance and impact in the world.
I would keep this priority central in our national efforts and would work to increase the support we provide for pastors, lay leaders and congregations in developing disciplemaking cultures in their ministry settings.
Second, our support for seminarians and their training must remain high on our priority list. We need to increase our commitment to training pastors who are well prepared for reaching a culture that has pulled away from the Church and who are also fully equipped to engage that same culture in discipleship conversations that lead to Christ.
I would work with the NALS President and our board of regents to more fully incorporate a disciple-making emphasis into the required seminary curriculum and would solidify our commitment to continuing this same emphasis by providing support for it during internship and the first two years of pastoral ministry. I would also work with our NALC staff and leaders to expand the financial support we offer to our seminarians in order to reduce, if not eliminate, the financial debt load they carry after their training.
Third, the unique challenges facing smaller congregations and those with pastoral vacancies must be addressed. We need to find creative solutions for offering pastoral support to our smaller congregations and for reducing the time between pastorates.
I would work to provide educational support and training for laity who could serve in short-term pastoral roles and services. Deployed seminary staff, retired clergy and soon-to-be-retiring clergy would be potential options for training laity and supporting pastoral vacancies.
We also need to take more seriously the development of models for “tent-making” ministries. In places where full-time pastoral support is not viable, we need to raise up and support pastors who would be willing to serve in part-time pastoral roles, while also working in other part-time employment. In the same way, we need to provide models for congregations to carry out full-time ministry without full-time pastoral support.
Fourth, strengthening relationships with our international church partners needs to remain a priority for our denomination. We have much to offer in terms of training, resources and theological education to our younger and developing partners. We also have much to learn from our partners who, in many cases, are more openly and effectively sharing the Gospel and reaching people for Christ. As our relationships with our international partners develop, we need to keep our commitment to disciplemaking central in those relationships.
I would work to listen to our partners and learn from them, as much as I would be committed to offering what we have in support of their work. I would remain committed to our Lutheran and confessional theological roots in all of our relationships, and would work to increase the effectiveness of our shared efforts for the advancement of the Kingdom and the glory and honor of Christ.
The same commitments, number five, would guide our conversations with our ecumenical church partners. In a culture that has moved away from denominationalism and that has become skeptical of the organized Church, we need to find ways to engage with our ecumenical partners to offer a shared witness and voice to the world.
I would work to strengthen our ecumenical relationships on the national level in order to provide a foundation from which pastors and congregations can share in ministry on the local level. Central in our conversations with our ecumenical partners would be our ongoing commitment to disciple-making. If we are to be faithful to our Lord in truly being united as One Church catholic, we cannot allow our relationships with our sister church bodies to be guided by anything other than the primary task and commission we share together in Christ.
As a still relatively young church body, we need leadership that will keep the course set during our early years. Our commitment to the four Core Values we share and to disciple-making must remain our central focus, if we are to avoid being distracted and dissuaded by other good efforts that would ultimately lead us away from what is most important.
Much progress has been made during the first nine years of our life together. We need to build on the work that has been done and stay committed to not taking on too much. I believe the focus of our early years, on disciple-making and our Core Values, are the key to our continuing growth and success. I would err on the side of doing our primary tasks well, rather than getting caught up in doing many other secondary tasks at their expense.
Second, the challenge of reaching the next generations for Christ must be an ongoing awareness we have and commitment we make as a church body. In a culture where an increasingly smaller percentage of people are engaging with the Church, an increasingly greater percentage is seeking caring relationships and communities.
Recent studies and my own experience have pointed to two elements in our ministry that must be visible and tangible for the next generations to connect. One, we need to be authentic in our efforts to share the faith. If we are not living what we are preaching, the doors to open conversation will quickly close. We cannot simply talk in generalities about caring for others, if we are not willing to enter into relationships with the others for which we profess to care. And, two, our ministry to the world needs to become more hands-on and visible as well. Young people want to see the impact we are having in the world before hearing about the impact we tell them will take place in Christ. I would be an advocate for congregations to look for ways to be identified and known in their communities by the tangible serving ministries they offer.
The third challenge we face, with a high percentage of our clergy nearing retirement, is to continue to attract new clergy to the NALC. To address this challenge, we need to move forward with the model for seminary training and development we adopted when the North American Lutheran Seminary (NALS) began.
With our seminary center at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, we committed ourselves to developing satellite campuses throughout the country. We made an intentional decision to not invest our resources in buildings, but to take advantage of the buildings already in place in other established seminaries, putting Lutheran faculty on those campuses. Our evangelical, orthodox, confessionally-strong and theologically centered Lutheran presence throughout the country will only increase our attraction to future pastors.
On the congregational level, we need to be encouraging our young people to consider the ministry as a vocation. Starting in junior and senior high, we need to be more intentional about talking with our youth about the need we have in the Church for godly leaders and praying with them about where God’s Spirit might be leading them in their lives. On the national level, good work is being done through organizations such as NEXUS in providing opportunity for our youth to consider a career in ministry and exposing them to what that calling looks like. We need to increase these efforts to raise up future pastors and to pray for God’s Spirit to send more laborers into the harvest.
On the flip side, with many of our clergy nearing retirement, we also have an opportunity to use their years of experience, in creative ways, to support the NALC during these years when new and younger pastors are being trained. I would explore a variety of options with our retiring clergy to see where and how their gifts and experience could be best used.
Short-term interims, longer term part-time roles, mentoring relationships for seminarians and newly ordained clergy and serving as on-site support for laity serving in ministry roles are only a few of the possible options for leveraging the giftedness of our retiring clergy. I would also work to find ways to engage those same gifts and years of experience in disciple-making efforts to support the overall work and witness of the Church. The voice of experience and support from this well-respected part of our ordained clergy would go a long way in enabling the disciple-making efforts of the NALC to grow and flourish.
Fourth, we need to explore new ways to provide pastoral support for our smaller congregations and for congregations in pastoral transition. The traditional models for filling pastoral vacancies must continue while, at the same time, being open to finding new ways to fill the pastoral vacancies that exist.
Along with deployed seminary staff, more effective use of our experienced clergy, and options and models for “tent-making” ministries, I would work to increase the hands-on training and continuing education opportunities for pastors and laity. We could make better use of our mission district gatherings and provide greater and more frequent options for regional training events throughout the country. We need to find creative ways for congregations to work together, as well as for seminarians and laity to serve in pastoral roles.
We have explored many options in our first years together. There are many options yet to be explored. The answer to the challenge is not simple. What we cannot do is to allow these smaller congregations and pastoral vacancies to go unsupported. We must be willing to explore new options and change our approaches to serving and supporting these valued members in the Body of Christ.
Number five, our infrastructure and communication needs to be strengthened as we grow in size and as we strive to be effective in a 21st century world. We can and should make better use of the technology available for meetings, support and communications, to become more effective in our ministry efforts and to make better and more efficient use of our resources.
I would build upon the steps already taken to strengthen this part of our work by engaging some of our more technologically-versed members to outline plans and strategic steps for implementing new technologies into our system to reach a more highly-technological culture. New ways of doing things are not easy, but we must be willing to change if we hope to reach an ever-changing world with the message of Christ.
Finally, I would work to increase the level of stewardship support offered to our national church by developing a strategic vision for our future and a clear understanding of how and where our gifts would be used. I would then work to communicate that vision to pastors and lay leaders who could share it with their congregations. When people see a vision for where their gifts will be used and how they can impact the world for Jesus, they are more than willing to share what they have been entrusted with for a greater and eternal purpose.
The challenges facing us as a denomination are many, but the opportunities for impacting the world for Jesus Christ are even greater. I would make it a high priority in my work as bishop to develop a vision for our future as a denomination and a clear and strategic plan for how and where our financial gifts would be used to support those efforts.
Christ Centered: Beginning with the preaching of the Word and lifting up Christ who will “draw all people to Himself,” the centrality of Christ and what He has done for us on the cross must remain the primary focus of our preaching and teaching. My preaching and teaching ministry would continually center on what God has accomplished for us in His Son and how, in Jesus, we are made right with God.
I would like to see greater opportunity for preaching seminars and ongoing training for NALC pastors. Perhaps in mission districts and/or at national gatherings, a renewed focus on the importance of our preaching and teaching ministries would be a priority I would provide.
My leadership would use this Core Value as a litmus test against everything we are asked to do or consider as a denomination. If the proposal being offered serves and furthers our witness to Jesus, then it will be worth considering. If not, then it will not be among the considerations we make. Jesus is our identity, our priority and our purpose for existing as a church body. Nothing else will ever take that first and primary place.
In the same way, I would challenge each pastor and congregation to ask the same Christ Centered question about its own ministries and apply the same litmus test to what they are doing. As a church, we cannot afford to waste our energies on anything not centered in Jesus. If it does not further the work of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then it needs to be set aside in favor of something that does. It is that important.
Mission Driven: The emphasis on disciple-making is central to our Mission-Driven efforts. We need to become better equipped at speaking and sharing the faith with others. We need to focus on helping our members see themselves as being as responsible for fulfilling the Great Commission as the church is responsible for doing the same, all the while equipping them for the task.
We need to continually remind ourselves that the Holy Spirit is the one who ultimately leads people to faith. He is our Helper, our Advocate, our Counselor and our Guide. He takes our witness to Jesus and uses it to change people’s hearts and lives and lead them to Christ. The work of creating faith is the Holy Spirit’s primary and essential work. As we seek the Spirit’s guidance and trust in His power, our Mission-Driven efforts will bear fruit.
We also need to clarify the difference between ministry and mission. The former can serve the latter, but it is not intended to become a replacement for it. Only as the name of Jesus is shared are people drawn to a living faith in Him. I would work to make that distinction as clear as possible, without devaluing the importance and essential nature of our serving ministries.
In making this Core Value more prominent in the NALC, I would challenge each pastor and congregation to identify at least one new area, each year, in which the Gospel mission they share could be furthered in their particular ministry setting. The goal would be to identify the opportunity and then to develop and implement a strategy to carry it out. I would also work with our international partners to identify specific challenges they face and opportunities there might be for us to support their mission efforts, and then challenge our congregations to become directly involved in supporting that work. If being Mission Driven is a Core Value we hold, then we cannot claim it as a value if we are not finding tangible ways to make it happen.
Traditionally Grounded: Central to this Core Value is our commitment to a strong Word and Sacrament ministry. Everything we do grows out of our regular worship in which the Word is preached and the Sacraments are rightly administered. As bishop, I would emphasize the importance of this central part of our life. I would challenge pastors to continually be growing in their preaching skills and would work to provide opportunities for that to happen.
I would also lift up the spiritual disciplines that have played such a significant role in the life of the Church since the time of the early apostles and challenge our pastors to make them more prominent in their own lives, as well as in their congregations. The disciplines of prayer, meditation, a quiet time with God, Bible reading, worship, fasting, solitude and service, only to name a few, have been powerful disciplines that are part of our tradition. From my own experience, I have seen how these disciplines can serve to strengthen my relationship with Christ. I would lift them up as a means through which pastors and congregations can be strengthened and renewed in their faith-walk with Jesus and would work to provide opportunity for such renewal to happen.
As a denomination whose roots go back to the early apostles and whose traditions have played such a central role in our history, we need to continually remember the importance of our traditions and why our roots are so essential. The Lutheran Confessions and the three main creeds of the Church are more than just historical documents we share and theological understandings we support. We believe they are accurate interpretations of Scripture and a clear and concise confession of what we believe to be true. As a result, they hold a place in our tradition that continues to give direction and identity to who we are today and what we are about as a denomination.
Having said that, we must never allow the maintaining of our traditions and our roots to become the purpose for which we exist. They are to serve the work of the Church, and not vice versa. I would work to ensure that the traditions in which we are grounded are maintained and the roots from which we have grown are not lost, without allowing the maintaining of those traditions and protecting our roots to become the end goal.
In order to reach a new generation with the Gospel, we cannot be afraid to put new wine in new wineskins. Old wineskins serve a purpose, but new approaches and opportunities must also be identified and claimed. I would work to encourage us to always be moving forward in our efforts to reach people in new ways, without losing our purpose-serving and identity-giving traditions.
Congregationally Focused: My leadership would continually reinforce our understanding that the congregation is the primary place in which the ministry of the Church takes place. The national church and its structure are to serve the local church and its ministry, and not the other way around. As a staff, we would be available to pastors and congregations as needed, and would continually be looking for ways to support them in service of the Gospel in their settings. Identifying helpful resources, providing education opportunities and building training elements into every mission district gathering are among the priorities I would set.
Without compromising our Congregationally Focused Core Value, we need, at the same time, to increase our national support for hands-on congregational ministry. I would structure our staff in such a way as to best serve the local congregation in its ministries. I would also make it a priority to move forward with the restructuring plan proposed at the 2018 Convocation. If we expect to continue to provide national support for local congregations, we need a staffing structure that is scalable to support growth. This would be a high priority for me as bishop if I were chosen to serve in that role.
For our Christ-Centered and Mission-Driven commitments to become real and tangible, I believe there is no better place to start than with the training of pastors, lay leaders and mission district deans to become equipped as disciple-makers. By providing training at mission district gatherings, regular support and guidance offered to clergy at pastoral conferences and events, and ongoing encouragement for congregations to become centers for disciple-making, these two Core Values will remain solid and central in our shared work.
As bishop, I would give serious consideration in our staffing structure to having a person on staff dedicated full time to strengthening our disciple-making commitment. I would
also give strong priority to shaping our staff to best serve the Christ-Centered and Mission-Driven values we hold.
On the local level, every congregation would be challenged with prioritizing prayer, financial support and relationship-development with at least one domestic and one international mission effort endorsed by the NALC. Tangible commitments to developing relationships with missionaries and mission agencies, along with regular prayer and financial support will naturally strengthen our Christ-Centered and Mission-Driven efforts.
Every mission district would be challenged with identifying and supporting one new mission start within the district every three years. Although a modest and certainly attainable goal, this commitment will keep our Mission-Driven value clearly in sight and will expand our Christ-Centered focus in new congregations.
I have a deep personal commitment to discipleship as the main and central calling and commission we have from Christ. My understanding of discipleship as a strategic direction for the NALC is driven by the fact that this is the strategy given to us by Christ Himself to grow His Church. I also have a deep theological conviction that disciplemaking efforts work best in settings where support, encouragement and accountability are built into the very fabric of the work taking place. This only happens when and where there is a conscious and intentional effort to develop such disciple-making cultures.
As bishop, I would challenge our deans to support and provide accountability within their mission districts to continually lift up disciple-making as our primary focus. I would work with our Life-to-Life Discipleship Team to increase the training opportunities for discipling guides and to move forward in our commitment to support our pastors in developing disciple-making cultures within their congregations.
I would also continually encourage pastors in their own spiritual disciplines for the purpose of strengthening their relationship with Jesus. In the same way, I would challenge them to encourage their own leaders and congregational members to become more disciplined in those daily commitments that allow the Holy Spirit to do its transforming work in us.
Having led the congregation I serve to set its own strategic direction in discipleship, I know and have experienced first-hand its value and benefits. All of our ministries are framed with discipleship in mind. Each of our ministries has disciple-making as its goal. Real outreach is happening. Serving ministries have emerged. God is changing lives, through His Holy Spirit, and followers of Jesus are being shaped for His purposes.
If our strategy as a denomination is to be consistent with the calling and commission we have been given, and if our work on the national level is for the purpose of supporting local congregations and furthering the work of Christ, then the two cannot be separated in any way. Our strategy is discipleship, and discipleship is our strategy. Everything we do as a church body should serve the purpose of reinforcing our strategic discipleship efforts.
In general, my hopes for the NALC and its mission revolve around the promise of Jesus to grow His Church as we are faithful to the Great Commission He has given and dedicated to living out the two Great Commandments in our life together. My hope is that we will remain united in our commitment to lifting up Jesus as Lord and Savior of all and, in so doing, that He will draw all people to Himself. I hope that our shared witness to Christ as a church body will become a public witness to other church bodies in North America and throughout the world.
More specifically, my hopes for the NALC are tied to our four Core Values. As a Christ Centered church body, my hope is that we will continue to grow in our relationship with Jesus as our Savior and Lord. I hope each member of the NALC will become stronger in their own personal faith-walk with Christ. I hope our preaching and teaching will lift up the name of Jesus. I hope our sharing and serving will be a reflection of the heart and love of our Lord. I hope Christ will be seen in the lives of our pastors, our congregations, our individual members and our national staff, as well as in our mission district and national gatherings. My hope is that Christ will be seen in us because we have fallen in love with Him and we have no greater purpose in life than to live for Him.
As a Mission-Driven church body, I hope we will grow in numbers. I hope the number of congregations and baptized members in the NALC will increase. Although we are not in a numbers game, defining our success by the number of people in our churches, we live in a world where millions, if not billions, of people are living and dying each day without a saving faith in Jesus Christ. Because “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,” we must be tireless in our efforts to increase the number of people who come to know Him as Lord.
As a Traditionally Grounded church body, I hope we will never lose the foundation of our faith and the solid ground upon which the Church of Jesus Christ has been built. I hope we will value our traditions and claim our heritage, without compromising our higher commitment to serving and honoring Christ. Because Jesus Christ is the same “yesterday and today and forever,” we must always seek new ways to share with others the One we have come to know as our Lord, without losing the foundation upon which we will forever stand.
And as a Congregationally Focused church body, I hope our commitment to disciplemaking will become the priority of every pastor in the NALC. I hope disciple-making cultures will be formed in every congregational setting, transforming the people through the power of the Holy Spirit into lifelong and ever-growing disciples of Christ. I hope our witness will be felt in every corner of North America and our relationships with Jesus will be visibly seen in every community in which we are found. I hope our congregational life in worship and in the sharing of the Sacraments will be the ways in which we are renewed and refreshed in our relationship with Jesus for the purpose of witnessing without fear of failure in a world that is in desperate need of what only Jesus can give.
In the same way, I hope we grow in our reputation with our international and ecumenical partners as a church body that has fallen in love with Jesus. We want to know Him. We want to serve Him. We want to honor Him in all we do. As a result, we have no greater purpose in life than to commit ourselves fully and faithfully and finally to the commission He has given to us.
My commitment to you as bishop would be to hold to the commitments and priorities I have offered as commitments and priorities for our Church. My passion and commitment is to Christ. My heart and purpose are to know and to serve Him. He is the reason I am willing to serve. He is the resource from which I will serve. And He is the rest in which I find my hope and my strength.
Thank you for reading what I have shared. It is an honor to be considered for this calling. To God be the glory as we pray for and choose our next leader
August 9, 2019