Is God calling you, or someone you know, to consider public ministry?
Challenges — both joyful and stressful — await the man and his family when he feels that God is calling him to leave one vocation to study at the seminary and become a pastor, according to a new book.
Written especially for men who are thinking about a “second career” as a pastor, Leap of Faith: A Resource for Spirit-Led Explorers, cites the experiences of the men, their wives, and their families who have gone through that transition.
Leap of Faith draws from interviews with some 50 “second-career” families, plus seminary faculty and church leaders. It also shares the joys and spiritual rewards for those who answer God’s calling.
The book was produced through a collaboration of the LCMS, specifically its What a Way initiative to recruit and retain church workers, and Concordia Publishing House.
Written by Rev. Raymond and Martha Van Buskirk, who went through the transition, Leap of Faith begins by describing Christian vocation and God’s call to the priesthood of believers to serve Him in “secular” and church careers. With quotes and comments from second-career pastors, their wives, and church leaders, the book lays out the considerations, the options toward ordination, the rigors of study, the tests of husband-wife and family relationships, seminary life, placement, and finally, service as a pastor.
“God uses our first-career experiences to prepare us for future calls to service,” said Raymond Van Buskirk via e-mail. Adding that he had significant administrative, volunteer, and leadership experiences in his prior vocation, as well as lay responsibilities in his home church, Van Buskirk added, “God uses all of one’s background if one is willing. Each ministry setting requires a different skill set.”
Prior to enrolling at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, in 2001, Van Buskirk was a senior executive with the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C., and previously worked in corporate finance for technology companies. He has a master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of California, Berkeley. A 2004 seminary graduate, he now serves as pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Baytown, Texas.
Prior to entering the seminary, Van Buskirk told his wife, “if you don’t feel called to go into ministry, then we won’t go,” Martha Van Buskirk recalled. The couple visited the seminary, “prayed a lot,” and sought wise counsel before they decided to move to St. Louis so he could attend Concordia Seminary.
“In the end, I knew that something exciting was happening to our family, and that my husband truly felt God calling him to the pastoral ministry,” she said. “Although it has brought much change and challenge, honoring God’s leading has created a whole new life for us — a deeper path to live and serve and love.”
“Public ministry requires a special commitment and flexibility by the family to adjust to multiple moves, modest income, a change in social and employment status, and the demands of parish life,” the Van Buskirks write in the book. “The wife and family need to partner with the husband-father-pastor in this worthy adventure.”
Acknowledging that Christians have opportunities to see the power of God working in their everyday lives, the authors note that “a pastor on the front lines has this blessing and has it multiplied.”
Dr. L. Dean Hempelmann, executive director of What a Way, calls Leap of Faith “remarkable and relevant.” Speaking to potential second-career seminarians, Hempelmann adds, “you’ll discover for yourself the joys and challenges ahead as you seek God’s leading for your call in life to serve Him and neighbor.” He encourages people to order the book, read it, and pass it on.
Leap of Faith is available free from What a Way. To request the book, visit the Web site http://whataway.org/info/resources.
The book also may be ordered for $12.99 (item no. S28200), plus shipping, from Concordia Publishing House. Call CPH at 800-325-3040 or visit its Web site at www.cph.org.
Posted April 29, 2010