Throughout the five years I have served as pastor at Faith Bentonville, I have always been open to the prospect of interviewing with other congregations and seeing where the Lord is working in the Kingdom. Over the years I have had the chance to share my vision for ministry with congregations all across the country and hear from them about how God is working in their churches. I have always taken away positives from these interviews in the past. These interviews have been routine, part of the Call Process of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. It has always been my intention to share with the congregation if any of these interviews has led to a job offer, also known in the LCMS as a Divine Call.
For the past five years I have been called to Faith, but this week on Wednesday I learned that another congregation has called me as their pastor. Then on Thursday I learned of yet another congregation that has called me as their pastor. The first church is in Port St. Lucie, Florida, and the second is in Panama City, Florida. What this means is that until I decide which call to hold, I have 3 calls.
On Sunday, August 21 Coli and I will worship with the congregation in Port St. Lucie, and then on Sunday, August 28 we will worship with the congregation in Panama City. Visiting with these congregations and learning more about their ministries will help Coli and me to best decide how we can best be used to further the Kingdom in the future, whether that is to remain at Faith or to journey to one of these other churches.
We will be prayerfully considering our gifts and weaknesses as well as the needs and strengths of all three cities and congregations. Please be in prayer for us, for our Faith family, and for the other two churches. My intention is to love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love my neighbor as myself. I am taking this situation very seriously, as it is not unheard of but it is unusual to have 2 potential calls (besides my current call). I am praying for God’s direction.
I am open to hearing your thoughts and questions regarding this process. My plan at this time is to announce my decision on Sunday, September 4. If this timeline changes or as other news unfolds, I will keep you all informed.
Pastor Cris Escher