One Year at Grace Community

It’s really hard to believe that a year has gone by!

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Arriving at a new appointment is always difficult. Pastoral work is relational and relationships take time. Guiding a congregation like Grace Community requires the pastor to guide a group of people, connecting with them as individuals yet ministering alongside them as a community. It requires investing relationally while at the same time keeping the health and mission of the whole at the center of pastoral time, effort, and energy. Learning this balance takes time and I am thankful that now that I’ve had the honor to walk through a calendar year I’ll be able to focus on deepening my pastoral competencies, no longer focusing on experiencing everything as new.

Each day in the last year I’ve learned something new. Pastoral work is rooted in a particular community. This requires every pastor to make their curing of souls incarnate to that place at that time and to be nimble enough to leave room for the shifting hungers and needs of the mission field. Each day I’ve asked myself, how does my understanding of my task as a curer of souls, as a spiritual director, preacher, teacher, and leader, need adjustment in light of these particular people called Grace Community?

I look forward to this next year of life together. We are a unique community as we continue to find ways to tell the story of God’s redeeming love to all people in ways that they can truly hear it, in their language, where they are, good news of great joy! I think we are uniquely positioned to become a shining light in the city of Shreveport and beyond!

There are three specific gifts that I see in us that I pray will guide our future:

  1. A desire to mature spiritually – seekers becoming servants has been our mission from day one, this means that maturing spiritually (becoming a servant) is at the forefront of our identity.
  2. A desire to make spaces for reconciling conversations – our diversity across the theological, social, and political spectrum positions us uniquely in this city to have “courageous conversations” about the many issues that divide us today as we continue to make space for all people.
  3. A desire to invite others to our shared work – this is what some have called “relational evangelism” but is truly about being so excited for God’s work in our lives through our community that we want others to experience the same: Christ through grace restoring lives!

I look forward to many more years of shared life (decades?). I look forward to continue leading you as I preach/teach, empower our staff and lay leaders for ministry, and lead strategically through relationships across our denomination and community. These three tasks are at the forefront of my role as your pastoral leader into our gifted and fruitful future.

Thankful for the past year and looking forward to many more!

Peace, Juan+

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