What is it that drives someone to become a pastor? Could it be the thrill of speaking before hundreds of people each week? Perhaps it the desire to be in long nightly or weekend meetings, or perhaps you like to work on holidays and weekends and truly prefer Mondays off. Perhaps you think wearing a robe in public is fashionable, or riding “shotgun” in a hearse as it winds its way through traffic will impress your neighbors.
Or perhaps you simply love God and feel called to serve him and your neighbor.
Bill Harder, a member of Immanuel, the husband of Marilyn, a Bible Study leader, and former elder will retire at the end of the summer. If his application is accepted, he will begin training for the pastoral ministry. Rather than moving to the seminary in St. Louis, Bill intends to enter the Specific Ministry Pastor (SMP) program. This program allows Bill to stay in his Palatine home while he completes 16 courses over a four-year period including several on campus seminars.
If Bill’s plans develop as he expects, he will become a vicar (intern) at Immanuel. I’ll be his primary supervisor, meeting weekly with Bill to review his studies, assign him to various duties at Immanuel and support his mentoring. With training and supervision, he will be able to visit sick and homebound, teach added Bible classes, aid in worship, and in time perform all the tasks of a pastor.
I am truly excited because Bill has a passion to reach out to those who do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ. He wants to begin new work in our community’s nursing homes and other care facilities where people may feel neglected and need God’s Word. He wants to be part of our Stronger Together campaign as we bring Christ to the community. He especially wants to begin new opportunities for men to know Christ. We have pews in the church, and desks in the school, to fill. I think Bill is being directed by God to help fill them.
After two years of successful course work and completing his vicarage, Bill will then become eligible to serve as a pastor at Immanuel. However, he will have an added two years of class work and supervision at Immanuel before he is eligible for ordination. The SMP program only allows the graduate to serve at the congregation where they have begun their course work and vicarage. He will be specifically trained for Immanuel. In time, the congregation of Immanuel will be asked to extend Bill a call as pastor.
What is Immanuel’s role? We will need to pray for Bill and Marilyn as they begin this new chapter of life. We will be walking alongside them each step of the way and watch Bill grow and mature as a pastor.
I step back for a moment and consider the sacrifice Bill and Marilyn are making. Instead of enjoying retirement in Florida or relaxing in Palatine, Bill is beginning a rigorous course of expensive studies and a new demanding career as he learns to be a pastor. There are no guarantees that Immanuel will call him when he is eligible. However, I can guarantee that he will have abundant opportunities to share Christ.
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-12
See you in church,