Not everyone will feel the preaching rhythm the way I do for 2007. At one level it was defined by four main series: Marriage, Spectacular Sins, Treasuring Christ Together, and The New Birth (continuing into 2008). But as dominant as these series have been in shaping this year, there was another rhythm that dominates. I stood in the pulpit at my father's funeral, my granddaughter's funeral, and Luke Anderson's funeral. These were emotionally extraordinary seasons. They have changed more people than any of us knows in more ways than we know. As weighty as the task of preaching is, I embrace it as the highest calling of my life. Your trust is a deep gift to me.
This is the second defining word in my title, Pastor of Preaching and Vision. Two tasks dominated this part of my calling. First was the writing of a major vision paper called "On the Way to 2015." I have presented and refined it three times to staff and elders. It paints a way forward with the Treasuring Christ Together strategy and some scenarios of how to transition from the Piper tenure to the post-Piper season (sometime around 2015, Lord willing). It refines the way we think about pastoral leadership on the campuses by putting more emphasis on the integrity of each campus as the center for shepherding the people of that campus under the leadership of a campus pastor. It describes a process by which campuses could possibly become independent churches if that ever seemed more strategic in any given case. And it called for an elder restructuring to make shepherding a greater priority and to make organizational work more efficient. This restructuring was approved by the elders. The congregation approved by the minor constitutional change that made the implementation of the change possible.
The other task that dominated the "vision" side of my calling was the Treasuring Christ Together focus on the Fall as we presented a special fourteen-month focus through the end of 2008 with the aim of raising $4,000,000 for TCT. I preached on the vision of TCT in three messages and called for pledges for the fourteen months. The pledges have not been what we hoped. But the giving has been better than the pledges. May the Lord grant the cry of our hearts for the completion of the North Campus, the payoff of the mortgage, and the gift of South Campus.
Spreading Beyond Bethlehem
We exist to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ. To that end, the elders grant me a good deal of freedom to carry the message about God's supremacy into other contexts besides the pulpit at Bethlehem. Here are the places God gave to minister in 2007.
|January 3||Passion Conference||Atlanta, GA|
|January 19||Pro-Life Conference||Minneapolis, MN|
|January 23||Perspectives on the World Christan Movement||Roseville,MN|
|February 5-7||Desiring God Conference for Pastors||Minneapolis, MN|
|February 18-19||Resolved (Collegiate Conference)||Anaheim, CA|
|March 15-16||Ligonier National Conference||Orlando, FL|
|April 3||Resurrection Week at Texas A&M||College Station, TX|
|April 18-20||Willingdon Pastors Conference||Vancouver, Canada|
|April 21||Desiring God Regional Conference||Portland, OR|
|April 27||Central Indiana Crisis Pregnancy Center Banquet||Indianapolis, IN|
|May 1-20||Writing Leave (first part)||Minneapolis, MN|
|May 22-24||Gospel Coalition Conference||Deerfield, IL|
|May 28||New Attitude||Louisville, KY|
|May 30 - June 7||Writing Leave (second part)||Minneapolis, MN|
|July 27-29||The Cove: Billy Graham Training Center||Asheville, NC|
|September 5-7||Wheaton College Spiritual Services||Wheaton, NC|
|September 19||Campus Outreach / Passion||Mounds View, MN|
|September 28-30||Desiring God National Conference||Minneapolis, MN|
|October 12-13||Desiring God Regional Conference||Sacramento, CA|
|October 17||Fidelis Foundation Pastors Luncheon||Minneapolis, MN|
|October 30||Christian Supply Pastors Breakfast||Spartanburg, SC|
|November 14||Crossway Lecture at Evangelical Theological Society||San Diego, CA|
This was a rich year in staff additions. The long and arduous search for the Family Discipleship Department team came together in a remarkably satisfying way. Bud Burk was called for Downtown Children's Discipleship to replace Craig Sturm who stepped over into leadership of the 16/33 Center (the old Powderhorn Park Baptist Church that was given to us this year). Kempton Turner was called to Young Adult (Sr. High) Discipleship Downtown and South to replace Brad Nelson, who moved over to Short Term Missions Mobilization. Gil McConnel was finalized in his long-term leadership of the North Campus Children Discipleship. Jon Nowlin came on full time in Young Adult (Sr. High) Discipleship North Campus. Fred Johnson (North) and Chris Koepke (Downtown) came on as Neighborhood Outreach Residents for two-year terms of service.
I love the staff that I work with. The camaraderie we enjoy both as a staff and an eldership is extraordinary and precious. May the Lord preserve it spiritually, doctrinally, morally, and relationally.
Talitha is a young lady now. Sixth grade does not capture the maturity I see in her. We are deeply thankful for the spiritual heart that she manifests in her prayer life and the way she lovs worship and relates to people at her school. Noël remains the world traveler in our family taking every opportunity to go to the mission field. She is on the board of the state Joni and Friends ministry and ministers at their summer camp. She presses on with her writing projects as time and energy allow. I am deeply thankful that all my married sons are walking in the Light and leading their families with the Word of God. As far as I know, I am healthy. I love my wife, my church, my calling, and my Lord Jesus. Thank you for the gift of letting me serve him in this place.
Pastor for Preaching & Vision