Dear friends of Aspen Ridge Church
You may have noticed over the past months and years that Aspen Ridge Church has been intentional about developing a preaching team to share and develop this important ministry. The preaching team includes Todd Ickes, ministry partner with Reclaim Ministries; Norm Lewis, chairman of the elder board at Aspen Ridge; Pastor Lawrence Pridmore; Pastor Kreg Kastelz, and Earl Waggoner, secretary of the elder board. I would like to personally thank these individuals for the investment in the welfare and progress of this local church.
How do we decide who forms our preaching team? The most foundational answer has to do with Biblical qualifications for a pastor/elder. The Apostle Paul describes certain character qualities, desires, knowledge, and ministerial gifts in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. David Hegg says, “When God fits a man with the necessary character, desire, knowledge, and ministerial gifts for pastoral ministry, these essentials will clearly be both identifiable and, when measured by Scriptural standards, commendable.” While every elder has responsibility to rule, and Aspen Ridge has elders that do not regularly preach, there are certain elders who “labor in preaching and teaching” (1 Tim. 5:17). These men have demonstrated servant leadership in the context of Aspen Ridge Church life. Because of this, the team is chiefly comprised of Aspen Ridge pastors and elders and with Todd Ickes as a ministry partner with Reclaim.
Someone else has asked “why” build and develop such a team? The answer is multi-faceted. First, we seek to develop and expand the number of capable and qualified teachers so our ministry does not hang on one person. In the illustration of a church as the body of Christ, emphasis is placed on a diversity of gifts within a local church. Second, we also seek to develop leadership in and through our ministry. Having a team of teachers allows Pastor Jeff to invest a measure of his time in developing future leaders. It places our leadership in a posture of identifying and testing prospective teachers and pastors. Third, hearing from different voices serves to meet many and varying needs in our church family. Fourth, it allows me (Pastor Jeff) to pay additional attention to leadership and shepherding opportunities on the weeks I do not prepare or deliver a message.
On a practical level, the plan includes me teaching 70% of the weekends, a minimum of 36 weekends a year. The remaining 30% will be given over to a rotation of preaching team members. For the 16 weekends I am not preaching, I am spending time planning and coordinating future initiatives. I am also doing research on future message series. This while handling regular weekly responsibilities of staff support, worship services, follow up, visitation, and community involvement. A majority of these 16 weekends include my personal attendance at worship services; however, I do also receive a handful of weekends each year that are governed by the elder team’s “Personal Time Off” policy, including personal, vacation, and sick time.
On a personal level, this team provided great support alongside a dramatic fall my wife took just over a year ago. While in California awaiting the delivery of our first granddaughter, my wife fell and spent a week in the Intensive Care Unit. This happened in early December, one of the most important and demanding months of the calendar year. Our Aspen Ridge preaching team responded beautifully, providing quality teaching and leadership in a season of personal and family vulnerability.
Warmly, Pastor Jeff