Saturday, June 11, 2016

East Asia 2016: A 21,500 Mile Journey

            I write these lines from my airplane seat as our flight returns to the U.S. today.  By the time I get home tonight I would have flown approximately 21,500 miles in less than two weeks!  My heart is filled with gratitude for the things I saw and experienced during these two weeks in East Asia.  I thank God for Calvary Baptist Church and the opportunity it has granted me and the rest of the team to participate in this meaningful trip.  The prayers and financial provisions which made it possible are deeply appreciated.

          Our journey started when Pastor Chad and I left from McAllen to mainline China to visit our CBC friends.  On this post I will neither mention names, cities, organizations or show photos of our time in China because of the sensitivity of this information.  Some of the friends of our friends in that part of the world have been interrogated by the state police recently and some have been arrested.  Nevertheless, Chad and I were able to meet some incredible Chinese students who are being discipled and are following God’s call to serve in other countries.  We talked to a house church pastor whose 2-year-old church is growing in spite of close scrutiny and intimidation by the government.  We also met international students in China who are making a difference for the kingdom and will return to their countries with a global vision.  God and His church are alive and well in China.  We are humbled to know how with such limitations these workers are faithful and dedicated to the cause.

          On our way from China to the Philippines we made a brief stop in Hong Kong.  There we had a brief visit with Justine Maceross Scott, whose family has been a part of CBC McAllen for quite some time.  Justine moved to Hong Kong, shortly after college graduation, about three years ago to serve on a short-term assignment with International Care Ministries.  This organization works with holistic community development in the Philippines.  CBC had the honor of participating with Justine’s support for those two years.  Justine met Eric Scott, who serves as the Student Pastor at Watermark Church in Hong Kong and they are now married.  Although she no longer serves with International Care Ministries, they are serving a local church in Hong Kong.  We were also glad to visit with Rachel Maceross, another young lady from CBC McAllen who currently lives in Taiwan. We had a pleasant visit and promised that we would continue to pray for them.

            In Manila, Chad and I met up with the rest of the team who came from the U.S. (Paulo Gatan, Chris Brana and Mark Grace).  Four of us were from CBC McAllen.  My friend, Mark Grace, who serves as CMMO for the Baylor Health Care System, accepted my invitation to come and minister to pastors, teaching them how to care for one another.  

            Our first strategic contact in Manila was the national director of Food for the Hungry in the Philippines.  Last year when our team visited La Union province, First Baptist Church of San Fernando invited us to partner with them in providing holistic community development in one of the communities where they had previously done ministry.  Our leadership team along with theirs selected a community.  Since last year we have been looking for a model and/or a strategic partner that would help us accomplish this.  Since Gary Edmonds spoke at our CBC Missions Conference earlier this year, Chad Mason and Ken Munn have been discussing and considering the possibility of partnering with Food for the Hungry in the Philippines (and perhaps in other places).  Our meeting with the Philippines Food for the Hungry director was the next step in that process.  She was very welcoming and very open to the possibility of partnering with us and First Baptist Church of San Fernando.  She even invited us to visit one of the communities where Food for the Hungry has been working with holistic development for ten years.  We accepted the invitation and the appointment was set for after our return from the Pastor’s Retreat in Iloilo.

            On Sunday we flew from Manila to Iloilo and attended University Church at Central Philippines University, where Cris Sian, a friend of our team, serves as pastor.  Our pastors retreat was held in a nearby municipality.  The retreat counted with the participation of approximately 100 people.  Most of the participants were pastors but there were also a few lay leaders.  Pastors came from  various areas including Iloilo, Cadiz, Aklan, the greater Visaya province, La Union, Pagasinan, Negros, Roxas City, Panay and Mindoro, among others.  Many of these pastors struggle to make a living but are serving faithfully where God has called them.  Most of them are very young.  They are evangelizing, discipling, serving their communities, starting new churches, and reaching the unreached.  They eagerly received the 3 days of conferences on discipleship, missions, leadership, caring for each other and community transformation.  Our theme was “Renew.”  We shared conferences, held worship, formed peer groups which are to meet after the retreat on a regular basis, and closed with a celebration of the Lord’s Supper and a commissioning service.  The pastors said they felt renewed spiritually, relationally and pastorally.  During our four days in Iloilo we had the opportunity of touching about 100 pastoral/lay leader families and approximately 70 churches.  Many of these churches are planting other churches.  Many of these pastors are training other pastors back in their respective areas.  So the ripple effect of the retreat will go further than we know by God’s grace.

            Since we wanted the pastors to experience an overnight retreat and the places that could house that many pastors at a time and at a reasonable cost were limited, we held the retreat at a Catholic Conference Center.  The nuns who take care of the place prepared food for us, welcomed us gladly, and thanked us for our conferences and what we are doing for the sake of the gospel.

            Of course our work was done in collaboration with the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches and with local Baptist associations of pastors.  In addition to the ministry that CBC McAllen carried out, we facilitated the connection of Baylor Health System’s Clinical Pastoral Education with pastors in the Iloilo area.  This partnership will provide pastors further training in caring for their congregations and in caring for each other as pastor peer groups.

            Upon our return to Manila, Chad Mason and I were able to visit a cluster of communities where Food for the Hungry is doing holistic community development in partnership with other organizations.  The neighborhoods they have selected to serve experience extreme material poverty.  Many of their homes are one-room houses (about 100-square-feet total), sometimes built on trash piles.  Often these homes get flooded when the Manila Bay tide rises.  Food for the Hungry is working in collaboration with a local United Methodist Church, a public High School, a public elementary, the health department and parents from the community.  They focus on helping students who are at risk of dropping out by providing food, tutoring and other kinds of education and initiatives for the families.  Their rates of success after working in that community for ten years are impressive and encouraging in the face of so much poverty.

            I was reminded during this trip of how blessed I am and how blessed CBC McAllen is.  It is always humbling to see others do so much with so little.  I am thankful that CBC McAllen has strategic partnerships in East Asia where we are helping pastors, churches and communities.  Disciples are being mobilized to go from their countries to other countries (sometimes “closed” countries) with very little resources.  The church is demonstrating the love of God through a holistic gospel that redeems the spirit, the body, the mind, the family and the community.  I am convicted of the need to keep praying, giving and going for the glory of His name.  To East Asia and from East Asia may His Glory be known.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Summer Fellowships

      Are you ready for summer fellowships in homes?  Are you looking for a place to build community?  Are you wanting to host a fellowship in your home?  Are you wanting to step into a leadership role?  Are there friends, neighbors or family that you would like to see connect with a community group?  I hope this summer you are able to experience community in a group.

     From the perspective of church, summer begins some time between Memorial Day and the last day of school for the children.  So by that criteria, summer is just a few days away.  This summer we are encouraging groups and individuals in our church to hold regular fellowships in the home.

    For Calvary, summer is the time for big events: mission trips, Vacation Bible School, Camp Zephyr (Students), Camp Tejas (Children), the Valley Project, the Fourth of July Community Tail Gate, etc, etc.  As most of our midweek ministries (EQUIP, ICC, WIT, Remedy and The Grove) take a recess, we focus on these big events.  For the last couple of years we have also provided occasional midweek church-wide fellowship opportunities (end-of-school year bash, praise and prayer services, potluck dinners, movies and swimming nights).  This summer we are convinced that what we need is fellowships in the homes.  In addition to our big summer events, we are encouraging fellowships outside of Sunday morning.

     What does that look like? 
     There are primarily two ways in which a home fellowship can take place.  One of them is for an Adult Bible Fellowship (ABF) which meets on Sunday to plan for home fellowships throughout the summer.  Another is for an individual or family who desire to start a new group to do so.  The frequency of these fellowships will be determined by the ABF, individual or family who leads it.  Some may choose to do it weekly, others bi-weekly and others monthly.  Contact Paulo Gatan, Pastor for Administration and ABFs and let him know of your plans so we can pray, support and celebrate what God is doing.

     What is the purpose of these fellowships? 
     The purpose is two-fold (1) to experience community as disciples like we have discussed in our "The Table" (#cbctable) sermon series; and (2) to invite friends, neighbors and family who might otherwise not participate in a Sunday morning ABF.  Hopefully some will come to trust Christ through this experience or will become more interested in the gospel.  We need more "Guests" at "The Table!"  In fact, some new ABFs may emerge from this effort.

     What formats are recommended?
     ABFs are free to use whatever format for fellowship that best suits the needs of the group.  As we talked about in the "Menu" part of the series we encourage fellowships to include food, prayer, Bible study, worship and caring for each other.  It is difficult to do all these extensively.  So one idea is to focus on one or two aspects that compliment what takes place Sunday morning.  We strongly suggest to ABFs that they consider doing an Alpha class at a home either in the summer or fall.  This will provide both an opportunity for fellowship and for sharing the gospel with neighbors, friends and family.  Once the Alpha course is completed the new people can be incorporated into the regular ABF or a new ABF may be launched from it.  Another options is for someone to start an Alpha in a home with a view to start an ABF or home group.  For those interested in doing so, our pastoral staff, including Pastor Paulo Gatan, will provide orientation, training and resources to do this successfully.  Simply contact one of the pastors if you want more information about this.

     We ask for a joint effort in prayer for this summer as ABFs, groups and others seek opportunities to build community and to share the love of Christ with others.  Without constant fervent prayer our efforts will be in vain.

     So, what are you waiting for: pray, talk to your group (or talk to your leader), and plan some fellowships in the homes this summer, and then keep praying!  I know my wife and I are going to start start a home fellowship this summer and we are excited about it!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Paulo Gatan Recommended for Pastoral Staff Position

     Paulo Gatan will be recommended to fill the position of Pastor for Administration and ABFs at CBC's Church in Conference on April 24th.  On November 22, 2015 the personnel committee recommended that a search committee be elected in accordance with CBC's bylaws and that such committee give priority consideration to Paulo Gatan.  Paulo has been serving as an interim for this position since November 2014.  The Church in Conference elected Maxine Nash, Wendy Brana, Hector Garza, Jose Luis Jimenez, Tom Boone and Ken Munn to form this search committee.

     The search committee met on January 10, 2016 to discuss the profile for the position, the need to consider other candidates and Paulo Gatan's qualifications for this position.  At this first meeting the committee elected Ken Munn as chairman and voted unanimously to recommend Paulo Gatan for the position with the current budget compensation and benefits package.  Ken Munn will make this recommendation to the Church in Conference on April 24th.

     For more than a year Paulo has served in this position overseeing the administrative matters of the church, giving support to our ABF ministry, leading Alpha, filling the pulpit on occasion, baptizing, participating in mission trips and working alongside the stewardship committee, the building and grounds committee, the nominating committee and the safety and security team among other things.  Paulo has demonstrated an exceptional ability to relate to people at various levels, to get the job done and to do so with a servant heart and a great smile.

    Paulo is a Calvary member, who has served as an ABF leader and an active deacon.  He holds Bachelor of Business Administration and Master of Divinities degrees from De La Salle University in Manila (Philippines) and from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, Lynchburg (Virginia).  In addition to church ministry Paulo also has experience as a business partner/manager (Cleveland Health Care, LLC, McAllen, TX, Managing Partner and Privacy Officer; Lighthouse Staffing Solutions, LLC, McAllen, TX, Managing Partner; North Point La Union Corp., San Fernando City, La Union, Philippines, Operations Manager).

     According to CBC's bylaws the vote will be by secret ballot and it will require a 75% affirmative vote in order to fill the position.  We trust that members will pray and participate in this important decision for the life of our church.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Pastor Marcus en Sabático

(To read this blog post in English click here).



     Marcus Rodriguez, nuestro Pastor de Familias con Estudiantes, principió su sabático esta semana.  El Pastor Marcus ha servido a nuestro estudiantes en Calvary por mas de siete años.  Hace un par de años que pudo ver a los estudiantes que estaban en el 7o grado cuando el se unió a nuestro equipo graduar de la High School.  Ahora que una nueva generación de estudiantes se están discipulando en nuestro ministerio juvenil, Marcus ha desarrollado nueva visión y estrategias para cumplir el objetivo.  El Pastor Marcus trabaja con estudiantes de secundaria (middles school y high school) y de universidad también.  Su tarea es acompañar a los padres en la preparación de la siguiente generación de discípulos misionales quienes harán un impacto en su mundo.  

     Mientras el ministerio estudiantil en Calvary avanza con ímpetu ahora, es importante que Marcus tome su sabático.  Esto contriburá a la saldud del ministro como también a la salud del ministerio en Calvary.  Para más información en la naturaleza e importancia de un sabático, ve mi blog relacionado al sabático de Rolando Aguirre haciendo click aquí(A propósito el Pastor Rolando regresó de su sabático hace dos semanas y se mira y siente renovado y listo para la siguiente etapa de su ministerio en Calvary).

     El Pastor Marcus tiene planes de leer, refleccionar, y observar otros ministerios durante su sabático para crecer en su entendimiento de temas como la identidad pastoral, el ministerio de la iglesia hacia las familias, y el liderazgo pastoral.  Entre otras cosas, tiene planes de leer varios libros, visitar iglesias, entrevistar líderes y escribir sus reflecciones.
     El sabático de nuestro Pastor a Familias con Estudiantes principió el 7 de marzo y concluirá el 11 de abril.  Marcus ha desarrollado un excelente equipo de obreros quienes llevará adelante el ministerio juvenil durante su sabático.  El ministerio estudiantil de Calvary proseguirá en la ausencia de Marcus: Grupos de Conexión Juveniles (SBFs) el domingo por la mañana, "Remedy" el miércoles por la noche y los eventos especiales.  Para más información en cuanto a las personas contacto durante su sabático, las actividades semanales, y los eventos especiales haz click aquí.

      Doy muchas gracias a Dios por el Pastor Marcus.  Por favor ora para que este sábatico sea un tiempo de renovación espiritual, física y ministerial para Marcus.  Ora para que nuestro ministerio estudiantil continue hacia adelante con fuerza al seguir en la ola de "One Weekend," y ora para ver como tu puedes contribuir al ministerio estudiantil en nuestra iglesia durante este tiempo.

Pastor Marcus on Sabbatical

(Para leer este blog en español haz click aquí).

     Marcus Rodriguez, our Pastor for Families with Students, began his sabbatical this week.  Pastor Marcus has served in our student ministry well over seven years.  A couple of years ago, he saw those who were in 7th grade when he joined our staff graduate from High School.  As a new generation of students is being discipled in our student ministry, Marcus has developed new vision and strategies to move forward in this goal.  As Pastor Marcus works with middle schoolers, high schoolers and college students, he is coming along side parents to help prepare the next generation to be missional disciples who will make a difference in their world.

     While the CBC student ministry has great momentum right now, it is important that Marcus take his sabbatical.  This will contribute to his health as a minister and to the health of the CBC ministry.  For more on the nature and importance of a sabbatical you may visit my previous post on Rolando Aguirre's sabbatical by clicking here.  (By the way, Pastor Rolando has been back from sabbatical for over a week and he feels and looks renewed and ready for the next stage in his ministry here at CBC!)

     Pastor Marcus plans to read, reflect, and observe other ministries during his sabbatical to grow in his understanding of subjects like pastoral identity, church family ministry, and pastoral leadership.  Among other things, he plans to read several books, visit churches, interview leaders, and write reflectively.

     Our Pastor to Families with Students' sabbatical began on March 7 and will conclude on April 11.  Marcus has developed an excellent team of student workers who will be carrying the ministry forward during his sabbatical.  The CBC student ministry will go on in Marcus' absence: Student Bible Fellowships on Sunday morning, Remedy on Wednesday night and the calendar events.  For more information on the contact people during this sabbatical, the weekly activities and the special events click here

     I am so thankful for Pastor Marcus!  Please pray that this time of sabbatical will be of renewal for Marcus' spiritual, physical and ministerial life.  Pray for our student ministry to continue to move forward strongly as we follow the wave of "One Weekend," and pray to see how you can contribute to the student ministry in our church during this time.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Pastor Rolando en Sabático

(Read this post in English by clicking here).

          El Hno. Rolando Aguirre, Pastor del Ministerio en Español y del Equipo de Discipulado de Calvary Baptist Church, está ahora en su sabático.  Principió su término el lunes 18 de enero y regresará a sus responsabilidades pastorales el 25 de febrero.  El Pastor Rolando celebró su 7o aniversario en el equipo pastoral hace un par de meses.  Su ministerio aquí en Calvary ha sido muy efectivo y este sabático contriburá a que esa efectividad y su salud continúen.

No es un receso para la iglesia

          El hecho de que el Pastor Rolando esté en sabático no implica que el ministerio de la iglesia se va a detener.  La obra sigue adelante.  Su asistencia a los servicios y clases de Calvary debe permanecer igual.  Venimos a servir a Dios, no al pastor, y Dios está aquí.  Es más, ahora es cuando mas necesitamos que todos lleven acabo su servicio con diligencia y dedicación.  Así que sigamos asistiendo y sirviendo con fidelidad.

No son vacaciones
          Es importante notar que un sábatico no son vacaciones.  La política, revisada por el comité de personal el pasado 4 de octubre y la cual fue efectiva el primero de este año, dice, "Este sabático se ofrece para nuevas experiencias, educación continua, y un período de reposo, reflexión y renovación."

Las demandas del ministerio pastoral

          La naturaleza del ministerio pastoral en la iglesia del siglo 21 es muy demandante en la vida física, emocional, mental y espiritual del pastor.  El pastor maneja asuntos administrativos, consejería, cuidado pastoral, enseñanza, planificación, liderazgo, intervención en crisis, desarrollo de líderes y otras tareas, las cuales pueden agotar su salud espiritual, física o emocional.  Mientras los pastores guardan horarios regulares para estudiar, planear, reuniones, citas, y enseñar/predicar, la inversión de su tiempo en el ministerio frecuentemente sobrepasa los tiempos agendados.  Al tratar de equilibrar horarios diurnos, nocturnos y de fin de semana con el cuidado de la familia pastoral, es fácil que el pastor se descuide a si mismo.  Aunque los buenos pastores mantienen una postura de servicio a otros (staff, voluntarios, miembros de la iglesia, visitantes, personas en crisis, líderes, personas en la comunidad, relaciones denominacionales, contactos internacionales y su familia), necesitan también cuidar de su propia salud espiritual, física, mental y emocional.  Aunque los pastores deben aprender a no llevar sobre sus espaldas las cargas de las personas a quienes aconsejan o quienes tienen conflicto interpersonal dentro de la congregación confiándoselas a Dios, los pastores son humanos y a menudo llevan esas cargas a casa por las noches.  Adicionalmente la naturaleza espiritual del ministerio también puede ser agobiante.  Tenemos un verdadero enemigo y peleamos batallas espirituales.  Estas batallas se libran con oración y armas espirituales.  Sin embargo, cuando el horario del pastor no le permite el tiempo adecuado para la oración y la preparación espiritual, el pastor se vuelve vulnerable a los ataques del enemigo.  Las demandas del ministerio son constantes y es difícil para el pastor desconectarse de sus responsabilidades ministeriales.  Mientras la tecnología puede ser muy útil, también complica la situación ministerial un poco.  El pastor se encuentra frecuentemente constestando llamadas telefónicas, mensajes de texto, correos electrónicos, medios sociales, teniendo citas espontáneas y resolviendo problemas desde su casa aún en sus tardes/días de descanso.  Así que un tiempo períodico de estudio, reposo, reflexión y renovación es necesario.  (Las vacaciones, las cuales son una bendición y beneficio, normalmente son tiempos en los cuales el pastor sirve a su familia).  Un sabático le permite al pastor salir a la superficie para respirar aire fresco y continuar invirtiendo de si mismo en el ministerio.  Es posible que se lleve una semana o dos antes de que le pastor pueda cambiar de su ritmo ministerial a un ritmo de estudio/relfexión.  Un pastor saludable es algo bueno para su familia, su iglesia, su comunidad, y para el reino de Dios.

Lo que otros han dicho acerca de los sabáticos

          Hay varios artículos en inglés y documentos que el comité de personal y un servidor han leído en el proceso de establecer y revisar la política de sabático para nuestra iglesia.  Favor de hacer click aquí para accesar los artículos y documentos a los cuales me refiero.  Busque el párrafo con el subtítulo "What others have said about sabbaticals.Se encuentra casi a medio punto del artículo.

El sabático del Pastor Rolando

          El Pastor Rolando ha estado cursando para un doctorado en liderazgo transformador por un par de años.  Su solicitud de sabático incluye su deseo de escribir una gran parte de su tesis doctoral durante estas semanas.  Este tiempo sin interrupciones para estudiar y escribir le será de beneficio a él y le permitirá regresar a Calvary con nuevas fuerzas, ánimo y visión para el ministerio.  Durante su ausencia el equipo pastoral cubrirá las distintas áreas que el Pastor Rolando dirije.  Los pastores Julio y Benjamín se turnarán para predicar el servicio en español.  El Pastor Benjamín se encargará de los asuntos de cuidado pastoral del servicio en español.  El Pastor Paulo proveerá apoyo de logísitca para WIT, EQUIP y ICC.  El Pastor Chad dirigirá el domingo misionero en el servicio en español junto con el invitado misionero, el Pastor Candelario.  Los pastores Marcus y Susan continuarán atendiendo las necesidades ministeriales de niños, jóvenes y padres del ministerio en español.  Las hermanas Carmen Gaytan y Anna Ruggles continuarán proveyendo apoyo ministerial para el ministerio en español y para WIT, EQUIP y ICC respectivamente.

Calendario de predicación en el servicio de español:

24 de enero:     Pastor Julio

31 de enero:     Pastor Candelario (y participación del Pastor Chad)

07 de febrero:  Pastor Benjamín

14 de febrero:  Pastor Julio

21 de febrero:  Pastor Benjamín

28 de febrero:  Pastor Rolando regresa al púlpito
¿Qué debo hacer yo?

          Su apoyo es muy importante para que el sabático sea un éxito.  En primer lugar pedimos sus oraciones por el Pastor Rolando, su familia y su congregación.  Ore por el resto del equipo pastoral al tomar responsabilidades adicionales durante las próximas semanas.  Favor de no llamar, enviar mensajes de texto o correos electrónicos al Pastor Rolando.  ¡Continúe asistiendo, sirviendo y llevando a acabo el ministerio que Dios le ha dado a usted aquí en Calvary!  (El Pastor Rolando Aguirre estará ausente por unas pocas semanas pero Dios no se ausentará, ni tampoco su misión).

Pastor Rolando Aguirre on Sabbatical

(Lea este artículo en español haciéndo click aquí).

          Rolando Aguirre, CBC's Discipleship-Team Leader and Pastor for Spanish Language Ministries, is currently on Sabbatical.  He began his sabbatical on Monday, January 18 and will return on Thursday, February, 25.  Pastor Rolando celebrated his 7th year on our pastoral staff a couple of months ago.  His ministry here at Calvary has been very effective and this sabbatical will contribute to his continued effectiveness and health.

Not a Vacation
          It is important to note that a sabbatical is not a vacation.  The sabbatical policy, which was revised by our personnel committee on 10-04-15 to be effective on 01-01-16 (a copy of this revised policy was included in the November 2015 Church in Conference book of reports) , states: "This sabbatical is encouraged for new experiences, continuing education, and a time of rest, relaxation, reflection and renewal." 

The demands of pastoral ministry
          The nature of church pastoral ministry in the 21st century is very demanding on the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual life of the pastor.  As pastors handle administrative, counseling, pastoral care, teaching, planning, leading, crisis intervention, leadership development and other duties, it can take a toll on their spiritual, physical or emotional health.  While pastors keep regular schedules for studying, planning, meetings, appointments, and teaching, the demands for their time often go past those scheduled times.  Balancing daytime, evening and weekend schedules with caring for the family, it is easy for the pastor to neglect self-care.  While good pastors maintain a posture of serving others (staff, volunteers, church members, prospects, people in crisis, leaders, people in the community, denominational relationships, international contacts, and their family), they also need to take care of their own spiritual, physical, mental and emotional health.  Although pastors can learn not to carry the burdens of people they counsel and of interpersonal conflict in the congregation by entrusting them to God, pastors are human and they often carry those burdens with them as they go home each evening.  Notwithstanding, the spiritual nature of ministry can be taxing.  We have a real enemy and we encounter spiritual battles.  These battles are fought with prayer and spiritual weapons.  However, when pastors' schedules do not allow for adequate time of prayer and spiritual preparation, they become vulnerable and danger lurks at the door.  Needless to say, because the demands of ministry are constant, it is difficult for the pastor to disengage from ministry responsibilities.  While modern technology can be very helpful it also makes it difficult to disengage from ministry.  The pastor finds him/herself at home answering calls, responding to texts, emails, and social media, having unscheduled meetings and problem solving even on his/her days/evenings off.  Thus, a periodic time for study, relaxation, reflection and renewal is necessary.  (Vacations, which are a great blessing and benefit, are normally a time for pastors to serve their family).  A sabbatical is kind of coming to the surface for air in order to continue to invest in ministry.  It often takes at least a week if not two to change the ministry gear in which a pastor usually functions.  A healthy pastor is good for his family, for the church, for the community and for the kingdom.

What others have said about sabbaticals

           There has been much written about the need and the nature of pastoral sabbaticals.  You can do your own search for it.  I will share some of the resources that the personnel committee and I have read in establishing and revising the sabbatical policy for CBC pastors.  (You may click on any of the links in this paragraph to access the articles/documents).  Thom Rainer, president and CEO of Lifeway Christian Resources (an agency of the Southern Baptist Convention) wrote a blogpost about "Five Reasons Your Pastor Should Take a Sabbatical."  It is a brief but informative article.  The North American Mission Board (of the Southern Baptist Convention) published an article on Pastor Sabbaticals.  The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship offers churches a the idea of a Sabbatical Covenant and lists the reasons and benefits for doing so.  Canadian Baptists have drafted a document which addresses the issue of how long a pastor stays at a church in relation to a sabbatical.  Many of articles on pastor sabbaticals address the issue of short- and long-term pastorates.  Finally, Baptist Press reported last week on a study of why pastors leave the pastorate.  In this article, Ed Stetzer, executive director for Lifeway Research states, "Almost half of those who left the pastorate said their church wasn't doing any of the kinds of things that would help.  Having clear documents, offering a sabbatical rest, and having people help with weighty counseling cases are key things experts tell us ought to be in place."  I am extremely grateful that our CBC personnel committee and Calvary Baptist Church are gracious enough to provide a sabbatical leave for our pastoral staff.

Pastor Rolando's sabbatical

          Pastor Rolando has been working on a doctorate of transformational leadership over the last couple of years.  His sabbatical request included his desire to write much of the doctoral dissertation during these weeks.  This uninterrupted time for study and writing will be beneficial for him and will allow him to return to Calvary renewed, encouraged and with new insight for ministry.  During his leave the pastoral staff will cover various areas of the ministry he leads.  Pastors Julio and Benjamin will take turns supplying the pulpit in the Spanish service.  Pastor Benjamin will take care of pastoral care matters in the Spanish service.  Pastor Paulo will provide logistical support to WIT, EQUIP, and ICC programs.  Pastor Chad will lead the "missions" Sunday in the Spanish service along with missionary guest Pastor Candelario.  Pastors Marcus and Susan will continue to address ministry needs of children, students and parents in the SLM.  Carmen Gaytan and Anna Ruggles will continue to provide ministry support to the SLM and the WIT, EQUIP and ICC programs respectively.

What can you do?

          Your support is very important for a successful sabbatical.  First and foremost are your prayers for Pastor Rolando, his family and for our congregation.  Pray for the rest of the pastoral team as we take on additional responsibilities during these next weeks.  Refrain from calling, texting or email Pastor Rolando please.  Continue to attend, serve and carry out the ministry God has given you here at Calvary!  (Rolando Aguirre may be on leave for a few weeks but God and His mission are not).


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

CBC Alpha 2 Starting Soon!

           We are about to launch our second Alpha class at Calvary Baptist Church.  Alpha is a class where questions about life, God and Jesus are asked in an open environment.  The class meets in the church parlor on Wednesday nights starting February 3.  A delicious supper is served each week on round tables.  A video of a topic from the Christianity 101 Sunday morning series (#cbc101) is shown and then discussion about the topic is held around the same table.  We start on time and end on time (6:30 PM--8:00 PM).  We also provide classes for children and a fun worship experience for teenagers while adults attend Alpha.

          This class is for anyone who meets one of the following:

  1. You are searching for answers about life and about God; or
  2. You can bring a guest with you that is searching for answers about life and about God; or
  3. You would like to be on the Alpha Team as a table host or a helper (serving tables and praying).

         You can register for the class by clicking here.   There is no cost for the class or for supper.  (There will be a basket at the entrance for voluntary donations toward the cost of the meal but this is not required).  If you are a seeker there is no commitment beyond the first class.  You can come and decide whether or not you would like to come the next time.  If you are already a believer, the commitment required of you is to either bring a seeker guest with you or to serve on the Alpha Team.  (If you would like to serve on the Alpha Team, there will be a training on January 20 at 6:30 PM in the Church Parlor).

         You can download the syllabus for the class by clicking here

          I hope you will consider participating in the class or telling someone else about it.