What does it mean to be church?
This is the question that Pastor David Schmidt, Mission and Ministry Director, asks himself on a daily basis as he works towards growing people deeper in their faith.
Pastor Schmidt began his new role seven months ago after a decade of working as the Youth and Family/School Pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church and College in Everton Hills. He had previously been based in South Australia as a youth pastor in Murray Bridge and Aberfoyle Park, and as the lead pastor in Aberfoyle Park.
‘The reality is there is a lot of walking alongside to find out where people are at’, he says.
He says he is still in the early stages of clarifying what the short-term and long-term goals of his new ministry are but he is following the direction that the LCAQD has been moving towards.
‘My role is to try to support ministry and mission across the whole of Queensland’, he says.
One thing that Pastor Schmidt is passionate about is the link between Lutheran schools, churches and aged-care facilities.
‘How cool is it when we are a community that is intergenerational’, he says. ‘If you’re an older person and get down to the height of a six-year-old and talk to them at their level you are going to be their friend for life. We need to do that across the board.’
He says a key question is how to engage with the community we are called to engage with.
‘I think sometimes we get caught up with all sorts of other bits and pieces but ultimately if we are not engaging and reaching out to people we are not being faithful to what the great commission is’, Pastor Schmidt says.
He cites the case of Paul, an ex-Jewish leader, walking among idols trying to make a connection with people. He says we need to do likewise; we need to find ways to engage with and communicate with the people we are trying to reach. At the same time we need to be authentic about our own shortcomings.
‘We as Lutheran church have seen ourselves as a confessional church’, he says. ‘That doesn’t mean we need to defend faith. We need to let God do God’s work. We need to proclaim it. Theology needs to be proclaimed. But it needs to be proclaimed in ways that people hear! We need to start recognising that the people we are trying to connect with are hearing more than one voice. How do we engage with them?
‘We need to find ways to respond and to speak into the shame that people experience in their lives. A lot of those people are those who don’t know who God is. When we come across as judgemental, and are not honest about our own growth and our struggles, that exacerbates their shame. I wonder whether what we need to focus on is not telling people what they need to hear, but to hear what people want and responding to those needs.’