call and response

People of God called All Saints,

You called me to be pastor, and I accepted.

This is by no means a “Mission Accomplished” moment. But it’s worth pausing and celebrating, soaking in the grace of God it reveals to gather strength for the work ahead.

I was moved by the ovation you offered when, after the vote, I rejoined the meeting. We’ve endured some hard times together, including the last six months, when several dear families and important leaders left the congregation. The joy of the day was not without a bittersweet note for me.

And yet, what a sign of God’s presence and goodness that a spirit of generosity prevails at All Saints! How truly does it reveal you as people who—in the words of All Saints’ core values—“Do God’s work joyfully, with patience and resolve”! The true test is during hard times, not easy ones.

I’m excited about how you took responsibility for All Saints’ future. You took one more step of faith for the sake of a new vision for All Saints. I wasn’t present for the discussion and vote. But the sense I got from you afterward was hopeful, excited, and committed—not resigned or compliant. I take this as a sign that you want to move full speed ahead—not like a car with one driver and many back-seat drivers, but like a ship that moves best with all hands on deck. How exciting! Let’s go for it!

Tom S., the New Vision Team, and I are investing ourselves in the coming training and one-on-one listening campaign—with the help of QCI and Leslie Kilgannon. I encourage you to learn more about it, because it won’t be a once-and-done thing. Instead, it’s intended both to strengthen All Saints in the short term and in the longer term to prepare All Saints for expanding and deepening its engagement with our neighbors.

Pat H. and I are investing ourselves in a new evangelism effort. Imagine how All Saints could thrive with 12 new members this year! And there’s more to it than what others have to give to us. God’s purpose for All Saints starts with igniting passion for Jesus. Be in thought and prayer about how you want to engage people who are strangers to Jesus and to All Saints. There are many stages on the journey from stranger to friend. What do you want to share with All Saints’ future friends?

I believe God has given us everything we need—not least, the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit. The seeds we planted together are, by God’s grace, already bearing fruit: unified worship has encouraged real unity, Good Soil groups and other new bible studies have offered holy ground where God meets us in daily life, and All Saints’ purpose and core values are giving us new God-focused direction.

Trusting this, I intend to work playfully. I believe I take God and God’s work most seriously when I don’t take myself too seriously. I like the response the CEO gave when asked what he would do differently if he could do it all over again. He said, “I would make more mistakes!” I love how All Saints’ worship planning team has invited a sense of experiment and open-endedness to worship.

Let’s have some fun together for the sake of God’s kingdom!

Thanks be to God.

Pastor Clark Olson-Smith

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