I’ve been waiting a long time to write this post, but I’m now so happy to report that I’m going to be a pastor again. Last night I received and accepted a call to be the pastor of Grand Rapids Free Reformed Church, which I’ll combine with being a Professor at Puritan Reformed Seminary.
I am a pastor at heart. I love the privilege and responsibility of shepherding the flock of God. Since coming to Grand Rapids I’ve missed the blessed burden of having a flock of my own to care for. Although I have had multiple opportunities to serve various congregations and individuals by preaching and counseling, for which I am most grateful, nothing can make up for the sense of loss, even bereavement, at not having a regular flock to care for.
At the same time, I also love training future shepherds of the sheep, and have a deep sense of calling to serve in this way at PRTS. I know it is God’s will that I continue to do that as my primary calling, though with a slightly reduced workload.
Church and Seminary
I’ve often thought and prayed about the possibility of combining pastoral work in a local Grand Rapids church with my seminary work. It’s quite a common practice for Seminary professors to unite both roles. However, until now, no opening has arisen to make this possible.
When I was approached six months ago to discuss the possibility of being the pastor at Grand Rapids Free Reformed Church, I almost immediately sensed it was an answer to the prayerful longings of my heart. This is especially so because it’s a congregation I have grown to love through preaching there every month for the past 5-6 years. I have often prayed for the Lord to send a pastor to this congregation, and some times I privately wished it could have been me – though never conceiving how suitable arrangements could emerge to make that happen.
However, the elders came up with a plan that shares the pastoral burden and allows me to combine both teaching in the Seminary and pastoring in the congregation. I’m very grateful to the Free Reformed Church Synod, the Seminary Board, and especially to Seminary President, Dr. Joel Beeke, for their agreement and support of me and the congregation in these plans.
Modeling and Mentoring
We all believe that this should augment my work at the Seminary. Pastoring a local church will greatly enhance the modeling and mentoring aspect of my Practical Theology and Old Testament lectures,
It will be a huge wrench for my family to leave the regular ministry and fellowship at Grand Rapids Heritage Reformed Church, which has been such a large and valued part of our lives, and where we have felt so loved. However, as a pastor, I have to be open to God’s call, wherever and whenever that may be.
I will be installed officially on July 7 and I can’t wait to get started, especially as I’ll be pastoring alongside my friend and PRTS colleague, Dr Jerry Bilkes. I’m so thankful to the Lord for this call and so thankful to the congregation for the honor and privilege of being their pastor. We now look to the Holy Spirit to put His benediction on the ministry and the congregation, by saving souls, by sanctifying and equipping the saints, and by preparing us all for eternity.