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A Career With Purpose, Issue 1 -- Pastor Anniversary Story
November 25, 2005

My pastor anniversary story combines a pastor anniversary theme with a church anniversary theme, becoming my "change career story" of God's purpose for my ministry career.

My pastor anniversary story was the key focus of November for my wife and I. We flew to Kansas City on November 19th for the 35th pastor anniversary celebration, which was also the 35th anniversary of Blue Springs Church of the Nazarene.

As this local church developed their church anniversary theme Sunday, it provided me the opportunity to share my pastor anniversary story. God's faithfulness was the focus of both the pastor anniversary theme and the church anniversary theme.

They had asked that I preach a sermon for my pastor anniversary celebration and so Sunday evening my pastors anniversary sermon included my change career story,.

Focusing on God's purpose for my ministry career, which had its beginning in 1970, I shared much of what is on my Change Career With Purpose website.

Starting A New Church Was The Result Of A Joke

The need for starting that church 35 years ago actually began because someone jokingly said "we ought to start a church closer to home". You see, we were tired of the drive to Independence to attend church services and activities. While that's not the most holy reason for starting a new church work, God can use any excuse to start a new church!

Based on that very practical reason for beginning a new church, we learned that the Kansas City District of the Church of the Nazarene had targeted Blue Springs, MO as a community needing a Nazarene Church because of the population growth taking place. I believe the population at that time was a bit over 6,000 residents.

Launching A New Church Start

We actually started services in June of 1970 with Sunday afternoon worship services. The District Impact Team, made up of high school students from various churches from the Kansas City area, helped us staff a Vacation Bible School in the mornings.

At the same time we had a tent revival in the evenings with seminarian Ted Lee preaching. A few local families attended but most in attendance come from the Nazarene Churches in the KC area or fellow seminarians who came to help in our new church startup efforts.

Services were held in the Masonic Lodge basement on Main Street. Pastor Paul would arrive early on Sunday mornings with cleaning supplies and lots of Lysol spray, attempting to produce a more conducive atmosphere for worship services.

Arriving early allowed me to spray and pray, both actions needed to rid the building of anything contrary to our efforts to lift up Jesus!

I think it was probably August of 1970 that Sunday morning and evening services were begun. We had no one from the local community attending and our transplanted helpers from Independence were tiring out. So we figured we had nothing to lose by starting morning and evening services.

Starting a Sunday School at the same time, this decision actually made it possible for local people attend. Attendance was soon in the twenties and thirties.

The church had its official launch in November of 1970 with about twenty charter members, if I remember correctly. But even if my memory isn't serving me the correct data, it makes a good story!

An Old Church Building Gets A New Lease On Life

As to when we bought the old Methodist building, I am guessing that it was in 1971. Now get into your mind that I was a baby faced 25 year old kid with little life experience. How young did I look? Well let's just say that the neighbor kids use to come to the door and ask my wife if Pastor Paul could come out and play!

At a ministerial meeting, I learned that the Methodist building was for sale. The Methodist pastor told me it was on the market for $100,000. I was told me to make an offer so, using all of the real estate expertise gained from my limited life experience, so I offered $35,000! They countered at $37,500 with the stipulation that they owned the stained glass windows and the rest is church history.

Giving Someone The Cold Shoulder During A Church Service Was Actually Appreciated

I do remember one of our services in that new building, because the weather was very cold. The reason I remember this is that the furnaces had all quit during the night. We attempted to light every one of those furnaces (I think there were 4 or 5) but without success.

Later we discovered that the oil had run out during the night. We simply bundled up and it was so cold that as I preached, I could see my breath. It was one of the few times that giving someone the cold shoulder during a church service was actually appreciated.

I served as pastor for three and half years, moving to Southern California in November of 1973. What was accomplished because we started a new church you ask? I can think of several spiritual accomplishments from those beginning days.

  • A church was born. Even if the motivation was to not have to drive into the neighboring town so much, God used that motivation to see possibilities and to spark our faith. Faith is action, no matter what motivates that faith to begin.
  • A ministry career was started. It has just occurred to me that this is more than just a local church's anniversary -- it is the 35th anniversary of my career as a pastor as well.
  • Generations of faithfulness had its beginning. And subsequent servants of God have continued on because Blue Spring Church of the Nazarene was started.

While we often focus on building larger congregations, God is interested in building Godly generations. I firmly believe that the Christian Faith is one generation away from extinction. If so, what we do each and every day does matter in passing the torch of one's Christian faith to the coming generations.

What a joy to return for the 35th anniversary of Blue Springs First Church of the Nazarene. And what a thrill to celebrate the 35th anniversary of my ministry as well. We met several families from the original group of people who were part of beginning that church. But we also met children and grandchildren, Godly generations, who have received the torch of faith passed on to them.

Celebrating Anniversaries Means We Didn't Quit

You see, that means that both the church and Aleta and I have kept on serving God. Celebrating ministry anniversaries means this one simple fact -- we haven't quit! Thus we have the opportunity to celebrate faithfulness.

What did I enjoy most in going back to celebrate a pastors anniversary and a church anniversary? The best part of this church anniversary theme was hearing what Paul Harvey calls "the rest of the story". Filling in the blanks of our faith story made this time of celebration memorable.

Foundational Truths That Impacted My Pastoral Ministry Career

As I reflect on the impact of starting a new church in Blue Springs in 1970, I see several foundational truths that had their start in Blue Springs and became the basis for my pastoral ministry career.

Foremost is the conviction that the church is God's tool for reaching a lost world with the message of God's love and grace. But to me the church has always been "people, forgiven fallen folk like you and me."

Buildings can burn, hurricanes and tornadoes devastate church facilities, and yet the "church" rises to the occasion of simply "being" the church wherever we find ourselves, God's people, in a given moment.

My pastoral career spans 35 years, serving as senior pastor to 5 Nazarene congregations, 2 in California (Inglewood, Watsonville), 1 in Oregon, (John Day) and 1 in Washington (Bellingham). I was an Associate Pastor to the Boise First Church Nazarene just before your Pastor, Lyle, came as senior pastor.

In my pastoral career I also served as Director of Ministry and Technology for a Christian Internet Service, Reachone Internet. This experience became pivotal in directing me toward a healthcare chaplain career.

One of my most unique ministry position was as a Faith Coordinator for the County of San Diego, serving as a liaison between government and communities of faith in meeting the needs of our citizens.

For the past 5 years I have pursued professional chaplain certification, which was granted in April of 2005, by the Association of Professional Chaplains. My present ministry assignment is as the Director of Spiritual Care for LightBridge Hospice in San Diego.

I also have this internet ministry called "Change Career With Purpose", which I started in response to the problem of pastor burnout so prevalent in the church world today.

Aleta continued on as a classroom teacher throughout our ministry. I often say that she worked to support my home mission habit. In 2001 she received a Masters Degree In School Administration from Seattle Pacific University.

She presently serves as Site Director of the Early Education Learning Center at Point Loma Nazarene University.

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