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Three Priorities

By Michael Roop

By now, many of you have heard that the elders have called me to succeed Pastor Steve as the next lead pastor at Creekside. I’ve been asked a common question throughout this process: “What is your vision for Creekside?” In other words, where do I hope to take us? Whenever I hear this question, I cringe a little. I understand the heart behind what is being asked, but I’ve been around long enough to see many churches suffer - and in some places, fall apart altogether - under the weight of a pastor or leader’s “vision” for the church.

I have no “place” I want to take Creekside, other than deeper into Christ and to greater degrees of obedience to the Great Commission (Matt. 28:16-20). Creekside has a wonderful legacy, and I want to build on the legacy for however long God would have me occupy this specific role. But perhaps I can answer the heart behind that question by providing my three areas of focus over the next five years.

1) Establish Philosophical Alignment
First, I want to focus on establishing philosophical alignment. Many people come into a church with assumptions about how the church should go about its mission. In some cases, the how remains unspoken (even among leadership!). When these assumptions don’t match reality, a steady stream of conflict can arise, the origin of which is difficult to diagnose.

In the next five years, I want to work toward clarity on Creekside’s philosophy of ministry. I want to work toward a common understanding of how we will love, grow, and reach in this context. I want to make explicit the assumed or unspoken answers to these questions, not as a litmus test or an entrance requirement, but as a fertile ground for more productive conversations. We’ve begun doing this kind of work in different places, including pastoral blog series on Lessons from Psalm 78, The Church and Culture, The Hope of the World, and Tim Keller’s series on justice and race. In the coming months and years, I want to ramp up this kind of work to provide more unity of mind for Creekside (2 Cor. 13:11; Phil. 2:2).

2) Reaching our Neighbors
Second, I want to focus on reaching our neighbors with the gospel. This certainly doesn’t represent a radical shift for Creekside. In fact, reaching our neighbors is square in the middle of our mission statement! But my hope is to focus on what we mean by “neighbors.”

I want to learn the type of people who live between Glen Springs Rd and 53rd Ave, between 13th St and 34th St. What is the demographic make-up? What are the common needs, concerns, assets, expertise? How can Creekside tailor our community outreach based on who we’re trying to reach? Just as an overseas missionary would spend time learning the language, culture, and customs of their mission field, I want us to become students of our neighbors so that we can effectively reach them with the gospel.

3) A Culture of Owning Discipleship
Finally, I want to continue encouraging Creeksiders to take ownership of their own discipleship. I want to see the ministry programs at Creekside become a supplement to discipleship, rather than the primary location of that discipleship. I want our ministry programs to be a place of equipping, a place where, for example, people learn to read the Bible rather than the primary (or only) place people come to hear what the Bible says. I want to see a church full of people who take ownership of their own discipleship.

I have a particular burden to see this culture of discipleship develop within our homes. All the data suggests that religion is primarily passed on within the home. I want Creekside to be a place where parents are equipped to disciple their children, and where our ministry programs for children and youth are but a supplement to those efforts already taking place in the home. I want to learn with you all how to be a godly parent, spouse, friend, coworker, and neighbor.

A Final Thought
With all this in mind, I want to say one last thing: In these and all areas, I intend by God’s grace to lead from a posture of a learner, not an expert. I don’t have the answers to anything, but I have the Holy Spirit, alongside skills and training to read and understand God’s Word. I want to be first in line to check my assumptions at the door and humbly approach the throne of grace for help. We cannot fulfill the Great Commission by sheer ingenuity; we need to walk in the Spirit all the days of our lives, as individuals and as a community.

Much more can be said on these points. To that end, we invite you to attend a special family meeting this Sunday, Oct 3, at 5 PM in Creekside’s Worship Center. Pastor Steve and I will talk more about the conversations leading up to this decision, the logistics of the process, and my three areas of focus. This will be a great opportunity for questions and discussion, so if you’re a member at Creekside, let me ask you to make a special effort to be there for this unique moment in the life of our church.