Rarely is change easy.  We can get very comfortable with the routine of our lives.  Change rattles that routine and can sometimes shake us to the core.  Still, sometimes change is good!  It forces us to wrestle with the very important things that define our lives…the things that routine keeps hidden beneath the surface. It forces us to humbly pray and seek God’s direction for our lives.  This is one of those times for me…and I thank God for it!

For almost 25 years, it has been my privilege and calling to pastor the worship team here at South Baptist Church.  During those years, I have had the blessing of serving with some of the greatest people on earth! But, over the past few months, God has been working in my life, prompting me to evaluate how I might best serve this local Body of Christ, and I believe that it is time for some younger leadership in our worship ministry. I feel strongly that it would be to the benefit of the overall ministry of the church to make this transition now, as opposed to waiting another 5 or 10 years. Let me be clear, this is not the result of any frustration with our worship ministries or people, or any sense that I’m running out of energy or passion for our worship ministries.  On the contrary, I’ve never been more excited about the future of the worship ministry at South than I do now! I could happily continue to serve as Worship & Media pastor for the remainder of my ministry years.  However, I believe the timing is right to make a change! 

Since I believe that the vast majority of our growth over the coming years will come from our outreach to singles and younger families, it would be beneficial to have a younger worship pastor.  It’s simply a reality in today’s culture…a younger pastoral staff tends to attract younger people.  We’ve been burdened for years about the lack of younger people and families in our church and are prayerfully seeking to address this.  God has been good and we are beginning to reach some singles and younger families.  As we rebuild this segment of our ministry, I believe a younger worship pastor would be a benefit. However, there are other areas of need within our ministry that my age, experience, gifts and skills lend themselves to and would enable other staff members to better serve in their areas of giftedness.  I’m looking forward to being stretched in some new ways that could help us better prepare for the growth we have been praying for in the days ahead!

As to the timing of this, since we are currently seeking someone to fill the youth pastor position, now is a good time to reconsider the alignment of staff responsibilities. Through the years, my role here at South has shifted at various times to address a variety of needs that have come along.  This has included BBS Internships, Children’s Ministries, comprehensive budget development and implementation, and others. In light of our ever-changing needs and growing church, Pastor Scott and I would like to shift the worship planning/leading responsibilities to a Youth & Worship Pastor. This is a natural combination for many Youth Pastors as they will need to have worship planning/leading skills for use in the youth ministry. It is a common ministry combination.  In fact, both Pastor Scott and myself spent the first few years of our ministry careers doing youth and worship. 

As a result, I would take on the Executive Pastor role, working closely with the Lead Pastor, and providing oversight and administration of several key ministry areas such as:

            – staff & office operations

            – tech & media ministries

            – congregational care

            – committees as assigned by the Lead Pastor

            – adult worship choir & drama ministries

            – Lifegroups

            – strategic planning & implementation

These areas require the recruiting, equipping and training of paid staff as well as volunteer leaders and workers within our ministry.  This fits well with the biblical job description of a pastor found in Ephesians 4:11-16:

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Because God has called me to pastoral ministry, I would continue to carry out my normal pastoral responsibilities as well.  In relation to the new Youth & Worship Pastor, I will be able to provide input, counsel, advice and historical context along the way. I can also fill in for him when he is gone for youth ministry trips or vacation. I would continue to oversee our Worship Choir and Acting-Up Drama Ministry and work closely with him as to how these ministries are incorporated into our worship services.

Change…who, me?  Well, I guess this time I have to say yes!  Please pray for me as I transition to the Executive Pastor role in the coming months.  Also, let’s pray that God will soon meet our need for a Youth and Worship Pastor.

Privileged to serve Christ with you at South Baptist!

Pastor Larry Burk