It has been a busy summer with ministry in churches and with the men’s backpacking camps. Grace Baptist Church in Sonoma CA continues to proceed. There are still many challenges, but Pastor and Sarah Sondergaard are steadily moving forward. Please continue to pray.
The backpacking camps went well but I realized that I am not able to do as much as I would like, at least not as fast as I want. My body is getting older. Thankfully, the men helped me a lot. We will see what next year looks like as we get closer. We had men from AZ and IA along with men from our home church going this year. It was a soul refreshing time in God’s creation.
Fall – During September, we will be at two different churches for meetings, First Baptist in Dillon MT and Grace Baptist in Pendleton OR. I also plan to attend the annual meetings of Northwest Baptist Mission in Kemmerer WY the last week of the month. The first part of October, we will be in AZ. We look forward a busy time in the next few weeks.
Heavily weighing on my heart – There are many needs in the churches in the West as well as around the world. With my limited amount of exposure and knowledge, I have been working and thinking through some of the needs most affecting the churches. I am going to list various issues that come to the forefront.
1. Churches without pastors. Some have been looking for quite a while. I personally know of about 20. Some have the means to support a fulltime pastor while others are looking for someone bi-vocational. There seems to be a lack of men who simply love the Lord, His Word, and His people. Too many men have agendas to change the doctrines and methodologies of the churches or have some other issue that hinders them in ministry.
2. Churches that are on the verge of closing. There are several that are being forced to consider whether or not to keep their doors open. Each one has different circumstances. Some have been without a pastor for too long. Some have become so small that they are not viable. Communities have changed. Each situation needs to be examined and given an honest evaluation, seeking God’s direction.
3. Pastors who are close to retirement seeking someone they can work with in their last year or two of ministry, turning the work over to them at the discretion of the church. There are pastors who are hanging on, knowing that it is hard to find good men to pastor churches. Pastors are concerned for the people God has given them to shepherd. They are seeking like-minded men to turn over the work. (Study Philippians 2:19-23) This method has worked for several churches I know but is not the only answer. God is in control of His church and will work through whatever issues the church will face.
4. Training people for ministry, especially men for the pastorate. Our church is seeking to help in this effort; however the Lord would lead us. We are praying for people from within and from other places; that God would use us in the preparing of them for ministry in the churches. Preparation could be internships, remote college or seminary classes, along with ministering at our home church. There are needs and we need to proactive, seeking God’s direction for filling the needs.
These are just a few of the things I have been working with and through during the summer. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement. We are recovering at the moment from being sick after our last trip. May God continue to work greatly in and through each of us as we walk with Him.
Remaining Steadfast and Stable – I have received several very encouraging testimonials about the latest Bible study book. It has been available for less than a year and we have already gone through over 500 copies. A couple of churches have let me know they are going to start a class or study using it this fall. I know of individuals who are buying copies for their friends. Praise the Lord. It is being read and studied. The book is available on Amazon.