Monday, September 17, 2007

My Dad the Pastor

My dad has been pastoring since he was 25 years old. He has been at the same church for 29 years. This month he is retiring as pastor of First Baptist Church, Dunsmuir. 29 years in one church is remarkable in this era. It is even more remarkable when you consider that my dad has been a bi-vocational pastor for all those years. He left a full time pastorate in the bay-area that was an awful situation. He went up to a small church in a small town in the mountains of Northern California. There were 5 people attending when my dad arrived. He worked hard, built a Sunday school, got to know the community, preached the word, and the church grew. Dozens were baptized, many people have gone out from that church and blessed others. While other churches in Dunsmuir have closed their doors, and the town has shrunk, FBC Dunsmuir continues to go strong.

Last night the church held an appreciation dinner for my parents as my dad prepares to retire. I was not able to be there, but here is the letter that Stephanie and I sent. I think it expresses a bit of the blessing my parents have been to me and to the church they love.

To First Baptist Church, Dunsmuir:

We wish we could be there today to honor my parents as my Dad retires from the pastorate at 1st Baptist Church. Even though I am absent I wanted to share a few things.

Before I talk about my Dad I want to say thank you to my Mom. While she never got paid, and was rarely recognized I know how much she served and blessed the church these past 29 years. She did not try to fit into a certain image. Instead she sought to faithfully use the many gifts God has given her and to be faithful to Him. Her support of my Dad, love for the people of the church, ministry to women and children, and generous hospitality blessed the church in immeasurable ways. You may be able to find a pastor as good as my Dad, but I think it will be impossible to find a pastor’s wife that matches my Mom.

Now about my Dad. For 29 years he pastored in Dunsmuir. As his son I was there for 18 of those years and got to hear the preaching as well as see behind the scenes. As I watched I learned a few things about him and his ministry.

First, he preached the Bible because he believes it is God’s word, and he thinks that God’s opinion matters more than anyone else’s.

Second, he preached the word diligently. He didn’t just preach his opinion, or talk about the same things every week. He worked hard to grow and learn more about God and His word. I remember how there was always a book or two sitting next to Dad’s chair. And I remember many trips to the Christian book store in Redding to buy a new book or commentary. He didn’t preach on the same thing every week or repeat old sermons. He worked hard to prepare, then he stood each Sunday morning prepared to explain and apply God’s word. His desire to learn and grow helped give me a hunger for knowledge and blessed those he ministered to.

Third, he preached the word reverently. I don’t remember him ever eating breakfast on Sunday mornings. I do remember him pacing the floor each Sunday as we prepared to go to church. I think he was always at least a little nervous as he got ready to proclaim God’s word. He took his task seriously. Every Sunday was a big event, and every time he stood to preach he knew it was important. He never got used to the privilege and calling God had given him. I learned a lot from my Dad’s reverence for the preaching of the word.

Fourth, my dad loved ministry. He wasn’t just a preacher, he was a pastor. He loved Vacation Bible School and Children’s Camp. He enjoyed teaching children about Jesus, and meeting with them before they were baptized. He thrived in small groups leading discussions about God’s word. He loved the people in his church. My Dad taught me that the church isn’t just an organization to lead; it is a family to love. I know he loves you, and I know he loves God. I saw it first hand.

Mom and Dad: Thank you for serving Jesus, thank you for loving His church, thank you for preaching His word. I am blessed to be your son.

Mark and Stephanie and Hope Rogers

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