A friend told me years ago: "Our business [as a church] is to find the wave the Holy Spirit is
creating . . . and then to surf it." You don't even have to be a surfer to catch that metaphor. Because without a wave nobody surfs!
So what wave has the Holy Spirit been creating around Pioneer lately? Show up on a Sabbath morning, and it's pretty obvious. Children are everywhere—in our Sabbath School rooms, in our children's stories during worship. Where are they coming from? From parents, of course. So, where are the parents coming from? From all over this campus, this community and this county. And why do they come? Because what Pioneer does for children—in just the Sabbath School time slot each Saturday morning—is without parallel.
We have the finest, most creative children's Sabbath Schools on earth—I make that claim rather unabashedly, realizing I could be considered a biased observer! Our kids' Sabbath schools are known throughout the denomination. And as you can tell by the numbers, they enjoy the same reputation here at home.
And on this Pathfinder Sabbath, consider the fact that our Evergreen Club (ages 10-15) is second to none and that our Adventurers Club (ages 4-9) is the largest in North America. Truth is God has put together a volunteer leadership team for our young (on multiple fronts at Pioneer) that is excelling in its proactive mission/ministry for our children at every age level. I thank God for our leaders!
Call it a Holy Spirit wave, call it a demographic trend—it all adds up to Pioneer's future. Or to put it another way, the children of God's family are not only the future of His mission—they are our mission now. And that confirms (as we noted during Pioneer's 60th birthday celebration last Sabbath) the biblical metaphor, "We are Family!" Or as Paul expressed it: "So now you . . . are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God's holy people. You are members of God's family" (Ephesians 2:19 NLT).
And as a result (as we announced a week ago) our pastoral team is undergoing a major shift. Jim Collins, in his mega-bestseller Good to Great, introduced the leadership metaphor of the bus—you must get the right people on the bus and then you must get them in the right seats. And so after much prayerful thought among ourselves and consultation with our conference administration, we are moving three pastors to new seats on the bus.
First, to respond to this wave the Holy Spirit is creating with our children, we are asking Ben Martin (our Youth Pastor) to become our new Pastor for Children and Family Discipleship, giving special leadership and oversight to children from birth through early teens. Ben has long had a passion for discipling the youngest among us. And this shift seems a perfect fit for surfing the Spirit's wave.
His departure from youth ministry will be complete when we bring a new youth pastor on board the Pioneer team. Our new youth pastor will be a woman. In a few days, the conference will be interviewing several woman pastor candidates, any of whom will serve the youth of this congregation with passion and excellence.
Second, we have asked Jose Bourget (our campus chaplain) to become our new Executive Pastor here at Pioneer. I and we need someone with a passion for administration to oversee the vision/mission of Pioneer as we now move into our seventh decade as a campus congregation. Jose's task will be to lead the annual strategic planning process, reviewing the mission/vision and core values, developing key objectives and tactics and establishing 3-5 year goals for this campus congregation.
One other major change in seats on the bus is that we are inviting Rodlie Ortiz to provide new leadership for our GROW Groups discipleship ministry, along with the community outreach ministry he has already been leading. Brianna Martin will continue to assist him in this vital discipling. And I believe that is an effective match.
My friend was right—when the Holy Spirit creates a wave, our mission is to catch the wave and surf it. Which makes the youngest of the Family our very special mission. As George Barna presciently observed, it is the youngest who are "the spiritual champions" God is promising the church. Surf's up!