Yesterday marked the 14th year of Mark and I being pastors in Vancouver, WA. We came from the Seattle area after serving as youth pastors at two previous churches. When we loaded up the moving van, I honestly thought it was a very temporary move for our little family. Now, fourteen years later, both of my children were born here, we’ve grown roots, and beautiful Clark County is our home.
Along with it being the start of a new year, our “anniversary” brought many reflections to my heart about our tenure here:
1. I love the Church. Capital C. The Bride of Christ is Jesus’ first love and I am so thankful for the variety of churches that our community offers to believers. They all look slightly unique, but every week they gather to honor our Savior Jesus. We are blessed to pastor alongside some amazing men and women who valiantly give their lives, do their best everyday, and fight the fight! Thank you to all of you pastors who love our city.
2. We’ve seen the best in ministry. We’ve seen lives transformed, families rescued, addictions broken, healing happen, and hope set free in people’s hearts. Every prayer, every baptism, and every life is valuable to my heart. I am humbled and honored to be a part of it all. Pastoring is a difficult and trying job, but the rewards are rich. The Bible is clear that many will fall away, which is difficult to process, but those who hold tight to Biblical principles are a treasure.
3. We’ve seen the worst in ministry. Our first church experience in our city was racked with lawsuits, division, and horror. I’ve never seen anything like it and I pray to God I never see anything like it again. I realized that we, as Christians, have the ability to do far more damage to the Church of Jesus than any non-believer out there. Guard your words, dear believer. The Church is Jesus’ deepest treasure and we must treat it accordingly. As a pastor, this would be the reason behind many sleepless nights as I pray for a unified church that gets behind the mission and vision. If that happens…well, read the Bible. We become an unstoppable force to be reckoned with.
4. We have lifelong friends here. The greatest jewel in our ministry experience has been the friends we have gained along the way. We have been blessed, from day one, to be surrounded by people that we LOVE to work alongside. We have pastored together, held each other’s brand new babies, scolded each other’s kids, and now are cheering on our teens. We have started a church together, failed together, succeeded together, and worked out a thousand struggles along the way. We’ve eaten too much pizza in youth ministry and drank countless cups of coffee in church planting. It has been a joy!
So, we continue on in pastoring and in doing our best to reach this county with love. We continue on in building His Church and in dreaming for a bright future. We continue on in looking for new friends to add to our hearts and lives. The best is yet to come!
Happy New Year!
14 years! Impossible. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your “long obedience in the same direction!” The Newell’s model what Jesus-centric leadership looks like. No wonder the Welk’s miss you so much! (No: you can’t have them. 🙂 )
Thanks for your constant encouragement, Dan! We appreciate you! You know, you too can live in Vancouver. Best city on the planet! 😉