Monday, June 25, 2007

Frequently Asked Question

Hello All,

I hope that you are enjoying the summer heat. I'd have to say that it's not that bad...yet! Oh, fear not, just as there is an expectancy that there will be traffic on the 91, so also is there an expectancy of temperatures rising into the stratosphere. Don't worry Californians, the heat wave will only last through next March!

I wanted to address a question that I get frequently asked. I am asked this by all kinds of people, even people who don't know me that well! In fact, just the other day, I was taking out my trash when a neighbor approached me and asked, "So, when are you going to start your own church?" I answered him, but laughed on the inside. We rarely talk, so a question about this subject seemed unlikely.

It's happened at gas stations, at the gym, at my mechanic's garage, and of course, in church hallways! I have to admit that I am flattered that these people, all well meaning, most of them my friends, believe that I would be a candidate for such a position.

In the moment when the question is asked, I have let it suffice to answer briefly, "No." Sometimes when it has been asked, I have only known to answer that way. However, as time has passed, I have really come to a good answer as to why I am not starting a church or taking a head Pastor's position now, or anytime in the near future.

First, it goes back to a conversation I had with Pastor Ed Rea, that was repeated several times. It was his response to my question about God's leading in my life. I often asked him and others where they thought I was going in my life. As usual, Ed had the best answer. He told me, and later Lela, that we could determine what was in our future by what God had done by way of preparation in the past. He provided a visual that has stuck with me since that time. It's like picking up your footprints and throwing them out in front of you! With that in mind, I begun to examine my ministry life.

My first real ministry experience came when I took over the Junior High group back in 1993 at the Packinghouse. John Battler, a good friend and one of the funniest men I know, was deciding to move on and I was asked by Jim Scheer to take the Junior High group. I was not a Pastor, I was 19, almost 20, going on 17 and I was a lousy leader. I kept plodding away though, and was able to turn that ministry over to Aaron Hale back in 2001.

During that same time period, I was asked to take over the worship ministry at Redlands, at least the other half that Pastor Ed was not doing. Lela and I did worship on Wednesday nights and then every other Sunday from 1998 through to 2003. That time was especially sweet, but again, I inherited it, took it from where it was and did my best to enhance it. I left those ministries in the very capable hands of my good friend Brad Bischoff, and most of the rest of the illustrious team known to us as Brad San Nieves.

Toward the end of that time, 2001 to 2003, I inherited the College Ministry from Jim Scheer, who was building a building at the time. Same story: I plodded away and raised up an amazing team of people and then I handed that ministry back to Jim Scheer before I left for Spain.

Then Spain came along, and the goal was to learn the language, and eventually free Pastor Carlos to work part or full time among the Moroccans.

All this to say that my path seems infinitely clear. I take things already established and healthy over and plod away faithfully until I can raise up a replacement. I have never started a single ministry. Does this mean that I won't or can't? No, but it would be a surprise with regard to how the Lord has led me and Lela.

Second, a Senior Pastor needs to have the freedom to go after a Church. In our family dynamic, the children demand so much attention right now at their age, that to leave Lela to tend to them, while I go full out into a demanding ministry, would be entirely irresponsible. In 10 years, that story will likely be radically different and there will be different struggles, but we will not likely be worrying about Lizzy breaking cell phones, writing on walls, etc. (Yes, she broke our cell phone today! Gotta love those 2 year olds!) At 16, Renae, we are hoping, will be a very responsible loving sibling. We'll see.

Finally, watching Chris has shown me that there are areas of the ministry that I have never thought about. I do not have philosophies about Children's ministry, or women's ministry for example. I have no idea how to run a church checkbook or a board meeting. These things are what my current post as the Assistant Pastor will allow me to learn without having to be totally responsible for how it turns out. I can watch patiently and learn so that if and when the Lord calls me into some sort of ministry, I will be as ready as I can be.

Of course, as I write all of this, there has to be the context that we all have to put next to our plans and visions for our lives. It reads: Subject To Change If God So Wills! If He wants something different, you can ask me and I can tell you from experience, that He will accomplish His will and He won't have me arguing with least not for long!

Perhaps a group of people will one day group together and get something going that might someday make sense for us to join. Or perhaps, a church that I am in fellowship with, there are several, might one day have a need for a Pastor. Maybe God will call me out of ministry entirely in order to be a representative in Apple's company! In ministry, you have to be ready for anything. God moves in mysterious ways and Lela and I remain open to what He wants to do and where He might eventually call us.

For now, He is planting us in Irvine with Calvary Laguna, alongside Chris and Tatum Norman. We are so pleased to be there and so thankful to God for fitting us into a great environment and a great body of believers. It's a little scary in that, we like it so much, I am often afraid that God will call me out of it!

Hey, it's His life after all, right!?

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

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