Get ready for a heartwarming journey back to our seminary days with my lifelong buddy, Larry McGurer, as we reminisce about the gospel of Luke 10:2 and how it shaped our faith. Larry generously opens up about his path to faith, guided by his pastor and youth group leader's wisdom, and his discovery of Concordia, which kindled his passion for missions. We marvel at the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit and the profound impact of discipleship and encouragement in shaping our faith journeys.
Switching gears, we transport you from the seminary to the ski slopes. Larry takes us through some knee-deep snow, unraveling his skiing adventures in the picturesque town of Breckenridge, Colorado. He talks about the Summit Mission Alliance's transformative impact on his community and his call to serve Christ in Breckenridge, taking innovative steps to spread the Gospel in his broader community. We explore how he weaved his love for the community with the Gospel's outreach, thoroughly changing his life's course.
Lastly, we turn our attention towards a unique mission, The Leadville Project. This initiative saw 30 individuals from six different congregations unite to conduct community projects. We ponder on the potential of a bivocational missionary serving the Good Shepherd congregation, and how such an opportunity can connect one to something larger than oneself. Wrapping things up, we emphasize the significance of humility, building relationships, and accepting people as they are, without necessarily agreeing with their actions. In essence, this conversation serves as a testament to the transformative power of love and acceptance, mirroring the teachings of Jesus.
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Hello and welcome to the brand new American Reformation Podcast. We long to see the wider American Christian Church fall more in love with Jesus by learning from the practices of the early church and other eras of discipleship multiplication. We want to hear from you, make sure you comment and leave a review, wherever you're watching or listening, to tell us what God is doing in your life or how you feel about today's conversation. Lord, have your way in us. Let's dive in.Speaker 2:
Welcome to the American Reformation Podcast. I pray, wherever you're taking this in, the joy of the Lord is your strength, that you're leaning into your baptismal identity, that the hope and wonder of simply being a human in 2023, this day, is increasing in your heart and leading you to spaces where you can dream new dreams, namely to reach new people with the gospel of Jesus Christ. So today, my wonderful guest, known as brother for a long, long time, we go back to seminary days. Larry McGurr was my center in our beautiful year I think it was your second year of the seminary and it was my first and we won that flag football championship. It was glorious. I remember hitting you for a touchdown Everybody's eligible, larry, you catch it down at your shoe tops. It was so much fun. So from that day to you doing life and ministry with my dad, pastor Dave Alman, for a number of years, and now you've been up the hill in Breckenridge, colorado, beautiful, beautiful area of God's creation, my goodness, and you're doing some very, very creative things. So first, before we get into a little bit of your story, just generally, this is our opening question. So we're praying for Reformation in the American Christian Church in 2023 and beyond. Buddy, thanks for hanging out.Speaker 3:
Yeah, no, no, it's good. And just back to that, that touchdown. I might have trapped that ball.Speaker 1:
I might have, but it didn't get called.Speaker 3:
Anyway. So no, the way I'm praying and I'm joining some other church leaders in doing this, but what I refer to as 10-2 prayers, right, so at 10-02 am every morning I'm praying for the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into His harvest. That's obviously based on Luke, chapter 10, verse two, where that's Jesus' command right, the other Lord's prayer right that he gives us. Yeah, so praying in specifically, and we see that in our church body. Just we look at the numbers, the number of guys retiring and number of guys coming out of the seminary, and there's a discrepancy. And then in this community, in the central Colorado mountains, we see a need for church workers, both ordained in lay, lay workers in this community. So, yeah, that's how it's going for me.Speaker 2:
I love it and how Luke 10 has been such a staple chapter for me over the last 15 years, jesus sending out the 72, the kind of 70, the boomerang effect of they go out. Jesus has prayed the Lord of the harvest and then he's modeling what the Lord of the harvest wants, right, right, and sending out the 70 who go out. They cast out demons, proclaim the kingdom of God. They do all these miracles. That's one of my favorite stories because they come back. Even the demons are subject to us in your day. Jesus said that. He's like guys, come on, don't get the big head, just rejoice your days are written in the book of life, right, and so it's so formative about the character, the humble character. This isn't your work, this is my work in and through you. So I love that. That's kind of a life verse for you. We share that indeed. So tell us how you developed your heart for missions and kind of caring for the wider church. Yeah, every pastor kind of has that. Larry, you know this ability and I think it's a gifting of the Holy Spirit to think, yeah, it's about my church, Christ in prayer, Christ Greenfield, whatever, but it's about the wider, wider church. How did that kind of develop in you?Speaker 3:
Yeah, I mean, you know from early days, like the way I came to faith, like in some ways it's kind of your typical Lutheran story. I was baptized as an infant. My parents were pretty unchurched. Might go to church Christmas and Easter for the early part of my life, right, and my mom did drop me off for Sunday school when I was younger and she would go and run errands and shopping and all that sort of stuff, right. But through that, through the water and the word spirits stuck right and he worked in my heart. And there came a time when I was going into eighth grade, where we're standing in front of my grandmother's son room, my mom and I and grandmother, a few other people were there and mom said, hey, the church sent something saying, hey, you're invited to confirmation and would you like to come? And you know, I was going into eighth grade, had lots of other things going on in life distractions, whatnot, whatnot, and for whatever reason. Well, specifically because the spirit was working in me that I said, yeah, why not? You know, connect with the confirmation. And I love my pastor there. You went to Annapolis. He's an officer in the Marine Corps, so I kind of looked up to him in that regard and then also his faith. And you know, then quickly from confirmation went on to youth group and there's a guy named Ken who is our unofficial youth group leader and by high school standards he pretty much checked every uncool box that you could check you right, you know like. But he loved me and he cared for me, he prayed with me, he discipled me, he encouraged me and encouraged me to consider Concordia, which I'd never heard about that at that time in my life this is maybe end of my junior year and ended up going for recruiting day and visiting and could play football there for four more years and all that sort of stuff. So, yeah, so that's kind of you know short summary of my story. And I just saw like, hey, if Jesus could work in my life, through my family, through these people, in this way, boy, what an awesome opportunity I have to share Jesus with, with other people who have different, different walks of life, you know. So I guess that's part of it, that's cool man. Yeah, yeah.Speaker 2:
That's so cool. Talk about talk about what made that youth group leader said uncool, what was it that?Speaker 3:
was uncool about him. What was uncool? The emu obviously. Yeah, older, you know kind of if I'm just going to be stereotypical, like comb over, right, you know kind of a goofy laugh, right, and just just didn't fit the mold of like what a stupid high schooler would consider to be cool. But, like I said, he just he kept loving on me and that was life changing quite literally, and I'd work through him to impact me. Man.Speaker 2:
So isn't there a great opportunity right now for all of the baptized, especially those that are maybe of old banter for a long time, like I think there's so much of an opportunity for many of them to say I'd like to get connected to the younger people in my congregation. And I'd like to cast vision for them to to go on a journey to multiply disciples. I'm praying for a revival of a sense of just normal, everyday lay leaders in our congregation saying man, I want to go down a generation or two to love and learn from them, and that gives so much life, life in the Holy Spirit. Anything more to add about just going down to love the next gen dude?Speaker 3:
Yeah, I mean as far as like, yeah, intergenerational relationships, right, and it shirts, sometimes for good reasons, for whatever reasons, you know, kind of segments. Yeah, I think like he's got Александre talked to me about the relationship he has to the community Plans for social service. How do you get started our population into youth and children's ministry and adult ministry and not a whole lot of crossing paths all the time, right, and I think there's value in just doing life together and I think there's value also for non parental adults to speak into children's lives. Like you know, dad and mom can say what they're going to say and that's good too. But to have someone else say, hey, Jesus loves you, I really I see this as a gifting in your life that the Lord has given you. I can think of a few individuals right now that in our congregation that are probably going into sixth grade give or take, and I see it in them. I realize, like man that's potentially a future church worker in some way and just encouraging these people in that sort of thing. But as much as we can do that that's great.Speaker 2:
So no, no doubt, man, so much life there. I'm actually starting to coach my son's high school football team. I'm not the head coach, but I'm going to go over the next four years, maybe beyond, like that's going to be a part of my my life ministry and it gets me out of kind of a church bubble and with normal people. But I'm just so stoked to it's not just about hanging out with my son, which would be fine, but in the football environment, whatever if you were a coach. I think that's an awesome opportunity for a lot of folks to say, especially if you're an athlete or you were into the arts of some sort like just go down and start to start to coach, start to invest and and hear the stories and cast vision for those young people's lives. Have you, how do you get outside the church bubble, larry? What are the some of those ways? So that's, I like to golf. I hang out with pre Christians, you know, on the golf course and stuff. But what are some of your like habits that move you into relationship with pre Christians?Speaker 3:
Yeah, no, that's a. That's a good question. Obviously, up in Breckenridge, colorado, skiing is part of it, right, and so getting out and just just hitting the slopes and and man, there are some guys up here like they can, they can work me hard, like you know, I'm a decent skier, but they're, they're beyond me up here and but but just hanging out with them, learning from them Maybe that's a lot of it too is not just being with them, but being in a, in a house, I say, humbled place, a learning role, so that I'm not just the I don't know the pastor coming in saying, do this, do that or whatever. But hey, yeah, how can, how can they help me to get better at skiing and then I can come alongside with them and share Jesus as appropriate right. So I remember I took a ablance, one training course a couple years ago up here through Colorado Mountain College, our local community college, and and there is one point where we're out and we're back country skiing, right, touring or whatever, we're skinning up a mountain and it's hard, it's hard work, right, and get to the top and you have to transition your skis from uphill, take this, those skins off the bottom and stuff, throw those in your backpack. And then you ski down and I was still learning and made a rookie mistake of not putting my breakdown on my ski before taking it off and it just went down the hill and the whole whole way down. I had to ski one ski and the whole way down through powder and I'm just praying, help me, jesus. Help me, jesus and everyone there in the group is just praying with me like help me out, and one woman went and found my ski and it was super like, in a sense, humbling, humiliating, but at the same time I got to proclaim Jesus through that.Speaker 2:
So yeah, there it is. That's funny, man, what? I'm just curious, like what type of rut are you black, double black diamond? Is that what you do, Larry, Like talk?Speaker 3:
about that.Speaker 2:
That's pretty beast.Speaker 3:
Yeah, I mean you know, so I can leave my garage and be on the lift, the Keystone, in 18 minutes. And so, you know, with putting gear on and everything, so I've got, I have that right at my fingertips. I'll say I can see everything in the resort. But the mentality up here is for people like locals, hardcore skiers, the resorts are great practice places. You know, like if you want to be hardcore, you go out into the back country. And so I mean, you know, growing up I grew up in Northeast Ohio, veil, breckenridge, like that's the, the epitome of skiing. And you get here and you realize no, that's there's still. There's always a level above right, you know so. So, yeah, so yeah that's.Speaker 2:
I think that goes down to the reason I'm asking those questions is just to establish like you love your community, you love the people that. Jesus has placed you around. You're learning kind of the values and the rhythms of your community. And that's leading you, Larry, to say, man, if there's places in my wider community where the gospel is not being proclaimed, where Word and Sacrament ministry isn't available for God's people like that, that should not be. So tell us now about the summit mission alliance that you've kind of put together. So cool man.Speaker 3:
Yeah, so, oh, let's see. So you know, a couple of years ago I started working. A few years ago Now, I started working with Christ Breckenridge, where I'm called at this point, but before I was called up here, I was just doing pulpit supply, helping out. I was living down in the Denver metro area in front range, and I drive up here preach, did some discipling kind of through zoom before. Zoom was cool or whatever you know with the pandemic and everything, and, and. But you know only so much you can do from, from a distance, right, and, and we were trying to get them a pastor at this place and it was challenging. In fact, my brother in law, david, was one of the guys they called and he really wanted to come here, but just they couldn't put together a package that made sense to for him and his family to come up here and, and so we realized, hey, this is a, this is a tough climate, tough culture, like, like, and, and. So we had to go back to the drawing board a little bit and think outside of the box, there is the extended couple calls and one to the seminary, and you know they didn't get anyone from the seminary and they're pretty distraught. This is, oh, 2018, spring of 2018, right, yeah, and and they were, yeah, they were distraught to the place where this congregation, christ Brechner, which was was really ready to close the doors. You know they're. They were distraught and so I was like, okay, I think we need to start thinking outside the box here. I didn't know what that meant multi-site or whatever and one of the matriarchs of the congregation looked at me and said, pastor, you think this is what we should do and you know this is someone she serves on the altar guild. She's super German, you know background, like pretty much as you know, stereotypical Lutheran, as you can envision. And she looked at me and asked that and I said, I think we, I think we need to try. She's like, all right, let's go. And like that. In my mind, that was a turning point for this congregation. Where they're now. They're ready to try anything. And, long story short, like I ended up working out that they called me with the help of our circuit, denver Northwest circuit, led by peace Lutheran and Nevada, who are able to put together a financial package to make it just realistic, and one of the important things was getting a parsnage of the church, buying a parsnage because the housing cost up in this community it's, it's, it's a lot, and so the bread and butter of our Senate being the Midwest right, or the heart of our Senate, you know, to expect the guy from Iowa to come out here, put 20% down on a house is just impossible, right? So, and so we started working with LCEF to figure out that parsnage and and you know, how's this tiny little congregation going to buy this super expensive home, that sort of stuff, and? But they helped us do it and Lord blessed it immensely. We ran a capital campaign and we're able to raise the funds and and so, yeah, back in March 2020, well, this is back. This is sorry I'm skipping ahead now, but yeah, march, march of 2020, they closed on a parsnage and you know, it's everything. The whole world was blowing up at that time, right with the pandemic, and so it's a weird time. But we, we look at all these things that came to this point and we recognize like, hmm, there's communities around Breckenridge, I think, to our north, there's, there's Cromling or there's, you know, winter Park, granby area, leadville, to our southwest, and Fair Play, and none of like, none of these places have churches, or if they do have a congregation. They're just hanging on, you know, and so maybe we can implement some of that stuff in in these other communities. And that's kind of where some of Mission Alliance started from, and and now we're working in Leadville to fix up a parsnage so that we can get a missionary up there.Speaker 2:
So so you started to draw to Christ in Breck from those different places, or were you planting different, smaller faith? We're in second communities there and then we can talk about Leadville as well. Share a little bit more detail there. I'm curious.Speaker 3:
Yeah well, no good question. So we have people from that that come to worship with us on Sunday morning, that come from an hour and a half away, right, winter Park, cromling, fair, play, right, there were the closest congregation to them unless they, they had the Denver even that it's the same amount of time, right? So so the need is, is is apparent, right, it's everywhere and and so, yeah, looking for ways to how do we, how do we deploy these people back to their community, because the reality is like they're not going to bring their neighbors to to worship with them, you know, if they come that far, so yeah, so now we're trying to get, how can we be be incarnational with Word and Sacrament ministry in those communities, not just asking them to come to us.Speaker 2:
So you know this is the podcast of the night leadership collective and many of our listeners are, like you and I, connected to the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and I don't. I don't know that we as an established national church body have really wrapped our heads and hearts around context like your unique context, where we don't have Word and Sacrament taking place and and for, say, a Kremlin. For them to start something, it's going to require a tremendous amount of capital. Why don't we recognize the leaders Jesus has already placed there? And if they have the ability to teach, why don't we start to provide training for them to start from their house to a smaller space to maybe, if the Lord wants to see it, see it grow. But the training and I'm not going to get super like LCMS, political, but the training would require them to maybe go to the seminary for four years or or SMP, which is also, I think, cost prohibitive in many in many respects. So yeah, I'm just praying for an open mindedness within our church by to say how do we raise up leaders the Lord has already, and not compromising on deep theology there. So anything, anything to say on that front, because it's a logistical challenge to think about how you'd even get that respective leader trained to be a missionary and maybe even a pastor in their local context. What are your thoughts there, larry?Speaker 3:
Yeah, I would say the mission of some of the mission alliance is to prepare, plant and provide for missionaries right, and so that can be ordained or lay right, but putting them in that context first so that they can just be healthy and sustain and have a sustainable ministry, like I've heard it said, like whatever 80% of ministry is just showing up, right or you know something like that. So being there and then teaching into that context, teaching that individual to be a missionary to that community, as opposed to sending them away, and we both been blessed by kind of that residential program and it's awesome, but not that, just not the only way. We don't see when Paul comes across Timothy, he doesn't say, hey, if you go to back to Jerusalem for four years and study for a while and get good enough grades, you can come with me. So there's other ways. Yeah, and I guess the other thing to think about and I'm maybe not answering your question directly, but it's great is we don't need have to have brick and mortar buildings in these communities for there to be Word and sacrament presence, and so in our context, like it, just it's cost prohibitive, it's super expensive to to find, just find land and then build on it and and that sort of stuff. And so, yeah, if we can equip people to run more you know what I refer to as missional communities, but other people call them micro churches or house churches or whatever rights and kind of this variation on the same theme out of that that context, and maybe leveraging some technology to get preaching out or whatever, but equipping people to to be a gathering in their neighborhood, a gathering place where people can come over, they can eat, they can, they can share stories, they can share life together and they can share Jesus. Right, and yeah, so it's powerful, dude, powerful, it's hard, right, it's totally different, totally different model than what we've been brought up on. And you know, when you have relationships, sometimes they get messy and but but look at the Bible, this is, this is what Jesus gives us, right? So amen, amen, yeah.Speaker 2:
So just to reiterate, when I I'm not speaking anti residential education, I think that those will always I pray, always have a hand. It's just a both and there also has to be this, this opportunity to raise up and I like the word missionary evangelists. You know evangelists is in scripture, and so talk more about how you're looking to use a missionary up in, up in Leadville and this kind of new project. I think it's really, really powerful and with the dynamics that I love. I was at peace Lutheran Gosh a month ago or so, where my dad served for 26 years before getting refired into a different context, but but peace was talking about it. Dude, with like so much passion, we're doing a work project. I think that already happened. We're we're taking a whole bunch of people up. Tim, Tim Hobbin is one of the amazing lay leaders. These two men, Tim and I forget the other gentleman's name, but they are standing- up, just like rallying the troops, bro. I was like, let's go to Leadville and I live down here in Phoenix, you know. So it was pretty cool what, what the Lord is up to say more about the Leadville, Leadville project.Speaker 3:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So yeah, we, to speak on what you were just referring to, we had a work day up at Leadville specifically. So there is a Lutheran congregation that's just hanging on by the skin of their teeth right now and they don't have the capacity to call financially or various other ways. Right and so. But they, they, they own their building, church building, and they own a parsonage and the parsonage has some, you know, deferred maintenance, let's just say, and it needs to be updated and and so that'll be a great place for a missionary and, lord willing, his family to live. But it's so much more than that. It's a tangible project that people from our Vada, from St John Denver, from Steamboat Springs, two hours north from Vale, from you know all around. So I think we had 30 people, six representing six congregations, that all descended there and just we're working on fences and painting and doors and all that sort of stuff. And it was pretty cool, not just for the work that got accomplished To be honest, if it was just about the work is probably a little too big of a group, but but it's also about the networking, the Church of God just working together, different congregations are working together to make this mission happen. And yeah, and then we also we had lunch and we're able to invite some neighbors to come join. Us had a half a dozen neighbors just sit down and grab a burger with us and got to lay some foundations, build some relationships there. So so that's good. And then, you know, the hope is that we get this person's job cleaned up and then at this time we're also doing some fundraising to raise funds for a missionary and so that we can call him Some of mission. Alliance is 501 C three, but also what's referred to as a record, that recognized service organization of the LCMS, and what that means is we can call, we can use Lutheran Church Extension Fund, we can use Concordia plans, that sort of thing, and and and so we're looking to extend a call to, in this case, ordain missionary who will in part time, serve the congregation that's there, good Shepherd, and and also they'll be a missionary in the community by design and we'll see exactly how the Lord has us play out. But he'll be, he'll be bivocational, and so he works 20 hours a week. He gets full benefits. So you know, big thing is if we give him housing, if we, if we provide benefits, health care, retirement, that sort of stuff. Then he can choose a bivocational ministry. That that dovetails neatly with his mission to Leadville, be that a coffee shop or you know whatever. So working in a coffee shop, that sort of thing, and so there, that's. That's kind of what we're looking at, and you know. So part of that is just that help defray the overall package a little bit. Yeah, a little bit, but that's not the main motivation behind it. It's just so this individual can be in the community. And I'm intentional about calling him a missionary, just so that everyone knows like hey, this isn't your typical congregational pastor, which is super important and super needed. We need shepherds, but we also need missionaries in context like this too, and that just helps to communicate that consistently. And clearly.Speaker 2:
Oh, there's so much, so much there, Larry, that I love focus on bivocational, the missionary mindset of a call and a servant of the word. And then the what's really cool is the work of the wider church. There's something about human beings, bro, that like, want to be connected to something bigger than themselves. I think this is what it means, Part of the reason we're made in the image of God, part of that understanding, because my dog Roxy, she doesn't care about beyond our walls, right, I am God to little Frenchy Roxy, but human beings, I have something in my heart. I think it's the Holy Spirit the Holy Spirit placed it there that just loves to be a part of the bigger church. And I kind of think of the apostle Paul. He does this so many times, right, he's the saints in Jerusalem, the saints in Macedonia. You know, You're a part of this broader movement we're telling stories of, and I think that's all really the book of Acts is. Is Luke kind of sitting down and saying this is how this thing blew up? Right?Speaker 1:
And it was way bigger than Jerusalem.Speaker 2:
We got to see it go from Jerusalem all the way to Rome right Throughout this whole book to the kind of the epicenter of the known world at the time. So I just love stories like that that just lift up the church. This isn't about any one church, this is about the one Holy Christian and Apostolic Church, the Big C Church, and wherever there's a need for people to know the gospel, I want to be about helping that thing grow. So anything more to add on that kind of just expansive mindset, Larry.Speaker 3:
Yeah, no, I'll just say it's hard initially to get people kind of out of that or shift them into that mindset, if that makes sense. So what I've experienced is like getting congregations to work together. It's not that people or congregations have hard feelings or whatever, it's just everyone's kind of consumed in their own little niche of the world or that sort of thing. Right and so to think about where am I going to, how am I going to chisel out a little bit of time to do this project or to do that? It takes time, it takes relationships and it takes trust, and one of the greatest gifts that God has given me is relationships and the fact that I was able to serve with your dad down at Peace, serve at a four, seven years as associate pastor, and then he sent me out as what's kind of referred to as a circuit missionary at large, and so I was able to roam a little bit during that five year period. I was able to build relationships that now that we're up here in the mountains and we're doing these things, I can call people like Tim Hobbin or Greg Thompson or Stormy Greer or whoever, and damn, they're on it because they trust me and they see mainly how Jesus is working through all of this and it's so good to be once you make that move. It's hard to make that move, but once you make that move, kind of like you're saying, you realize this is so much bigger than me that I just get to be a little cog in the machine or a piece of this puzzle, whatever analogy you want to use, so beautiful.Speaker 2:
You just reminded me that I have to call Stormy Greer. That was a note I was putting there. So, yeah, let's talk about the Missio day, the mission of God Is it? The mission has a church or the church has a mission? Which comes first, larry, in your mind?Speaker 3:
Well, I guess I'd say that God has a mission and his church is on that mission with him. Right, joining Jesus on his mission. And we look back all the way in the beginning, with Genesis and creation, and we see the mission of God be fruitful and multiply as he speaks to Adam and Eve, and fill the earth, right. And so I mean that's the same mission as the Great Commission, matthew 28,. Just prefall, postfall, you know. But now we go and make disciples of all nations. But it's the same mission of God, who's pushing us out, who's empowering us with his Holy Spirit, to whether it be rule and subdue the earth lovingly, of course, right or whether it be to make disciples of all nations. And so, yeah, he cares for us, he cares for the lost world, he loves the world, he sent his son into the world so that we can have life and be redeemed by him, forgiveness of sins. And so we just like, who is it? Greg Finkie or whatever wrote the book? Right, joining Jesus. We get to join Jesus on his mission. I mean, it's in, I think it's Luke 6, where Jesus goes up one morning and he goes up to the mountain, prays to his Father in heaven, comes down, chooses the 12 disciples, apostles, right. And then he takes them with him out to the crowds, to the lost, hurting world, right. And how many times do we see I mean in the feeding of the 5,000, it wasn't just Jesus by himself doing the miracle. He works through his disciples, as the bread and the fish are being distributed to the people, and in similar ways God's still working through his people today.Speaker 2:
So that's so amazing, the humility that should come for us in the fact that the God of the universe is inviting us in man, despite our brokenness, despite our frailty and fallenness and selfishness. And man, I just pray for the church to, and the church just meaning individuals, families, communities of people who bend the knee to King Jesus, just having that sense of curiosity and awe and wonder about how God is already at work in their community and how they get to join him there. So I'd love to hear a story about someone from maybe Christ Breck or wherever, kind of having a light bulb go off and say, wow, jesus is calling me to that group of people and I can't, I don't know. I've had this happen with a whole host of folks down through the last 15 years. Pastor, can you just being able to just bless them and send them out to be missionaries, right where they work and play and do life? So tell one of those stories, encourage us, larry.Speaker 3:
Yeah, thanks. Well, just this morning, on Monday mornings, I meet with what I refer to as my, a discipling huddle, right. So a group of guys that we get together on Monday mornings and we talk about our relationships with God, our relationship with the church and the people of God and the relationship that we have with the hurting world. Right, and there is one individual today, this morning, john Schroer, who is he's connected with a few groups in the community that you know our county is take this for what it is but very politically left leaning and that impacts the schools and in some of the county, you know, there really aren't many private school options or charter school options. It's the public schools or home school for the most part, right, and so, and so you know, people see some of the stuff that's being taught in the curriculums that are being used in the public schools and there's concern amongst Jesus followers. And so this morning, like John just sees, like hey, there's a group of parents that care how how can I help them, encourage them, but also bring Jesus into that group? Because and this is one of the things that came out this morning you know you could do things in a underhanded, kind of shady way, work in the system to get things done your way. But that's not who we are as Christians. Right, and John quick to identify that. So what does it look like to follow a Lord who suffered all the way up to the cross and kept his character and integrity and intact that entire time? What's it looked like to be his mouthpiece for John to that community of parents in the, in our community, that, yeah, really really care about the future of education in some accounting, so some accounting, colorado.Speaker 2:
So, and that's going to be, that's going to be messy, right that that's going to be getting together with people who share, who don't share all of your biblical, judeo-christian kind of ethics. So talk about that, because right now I think one of the biggest struggles for the everyday follower of Jesus is the hyperpolarization, the political polarization. And you may find yourself, well, I have certain values that kind of lean me, biblical values. You may even justify that lean me over here. But at the same time, like the tension is, if we move at culture or those that have other political persuasions with anger or really wanting to win the respective debate, we lose love, and if we've lost love, we've kind of lost everything. So how do you kind of disciple your people in remaining true to the scriptures? Right, for instance, just an easy one. Right, we're a pro-life, we're pro-life in all of its forms right, Pro-human in all of its forms. But the way we talk about that can be very, very divisive today. So how do you disciple your congregation to just kind of monitor our tone and really keep our eyes fixed on the work and the way of Jesus?Speaker 3:
Yeah, I would say, first, just listening. Well, let me say this First, prayer, lots of prayer, right, it has to go into every encounter. Lord, give us the spirit to follow you. But, yeah, then listening, listening to stories of people, because my experience most people are, at least their intention is good, that doesn't mean it's right, but they have a story behind, kind of where they stand on things. Hearing that validating them is not just a project, a check mark that, oh, can we get them into the church and get them to believe, but validating them as humans. I mean our Lord Jesus. When he would come across people like blind men, he would ask so what do you want me to do for you? Well, of course, what do you want? But Jesus sees this person as a human being. He's dignifying this person, but just by engaging in this conversation, then he would have meals with them. And so asking those questions, listening to stories, being quick to listen, slow to speak. But then when we do speak, are we speaking a word of condemnation? No, we have to do this. Or how do we speak of Jesus and of the life that he has given us, the righteousness, the grace? How do we speak the gospel? It's so hard to hear in our culture, that it's a culture that just it is law of just whether you stand for this issue or that issue. If you don't stand for the issue that I support, then I'm going to shame you, I'm going to cancel you. And how do we say no? We're not going to fall into that polarization. We are just going to accept people, even if that means not approving of everything that they do in life, but accept them as human beings and speak the love of Christ into them.Speaker 2:
Yeah, that nuance of I can accept people because they're made in the image of God. They carry the emigratei as a human. And rather than I have to agree, I don't agree with everything I do. Or I look back and I get we found the enemy, and the enemy is B man. So that sense of humility, and then to just become better at storytelling, listening to stories reflecting the story of that individual maybe they're heard or trauma with the church or church leaders or their perception of what the church is. We're just against. And then, okay, fine, here's how I've come to know Jesus. And then can we become master storytellers of Jesus, how he went about loving the world. Can we tell the story of the woman caught in adultery, or Zacchaeus, who's an enemy of the Jews, you know that day, and how Jesus invites them. He shares meals, he's a friend of sinners, prostitutes, et cetera. So I mean just becoming. I pray that all of the baptized you know, as they listen to us. Larry preach would say you know what that story has impacted me. Jesus has come to me and I'm waiting, holy Spirit, for the time when I can just share that story of how Jesus went about living in the world with a friend who has maybe a preconceived notion about the church, which one we may need to apologize for, confess and two just may not be true, because we're Jesus people, anything more to add about the stories of Jesus.Speaker 3:
But Well, I guess maybe a tangent to go off of that is the idea that the people who Jesus called to be His inner circle, the 12, they didn't all come from the same walks of life. So one person, we in the church body I think the Lutheran church, a lot of us are going through the Gospel of Matthew this year. Right, and Matthew, like he was a tax collector, right, you know, and he was an enemy of a lot of Jews and you know they saw him as a traitor, as a sellout, as working for the occupying force. And then the other another person that Jesus called to be in his 12 was Simon the zealot, which, as far as we understand, like zealots, if Matthew worked for a government, zealots blew up big government, you know, like they were kind of looking to undermine everything with the Roman occupation. And so, boy, when you start to understand that, you can see how there were times when and this is recorded in Scripture they would argue who's the greatest of the disciples? And they get. You know, the other disciples would get mad at James and at John when they, their mom kind of went to Jesus and said, hey, can they sit left and right at your throne? Right, you know, sit at your left and right and yeah, so maybe not all kumbaya around the campfire with them, and yet Jesus brings them together. He loves them, he forgives them and empowers them to go out into the world to share his reconciling gospel.Speaker 2:
Right and so, if he can do it there, so I love that. Just to finish out, this is one of the few. No, I remember a lot of things from seminary, but I remember having a number of those like aha moments and I think it was is in Mark's gospel or it's maybe a couple. I think it pops most in Mark's gospel, but the right and left conversation you know it's not for me, this place has been prepared by my father. And then you moved I think it's Mark 15 into 16, and then they hung right next to him two one on his right and one on his left. So I mean, jesus is instilling in them, the father is instilling in them the way of the cross, the humble journey of sacrifice and suffering, taking the low place rather than the high place, man, if there are more leaders living like that, pastors and just everyday followers of Jesus man, the world is so much, so much better to have that posture of humility. Larry, this has been so much fun. Let's close with one last question. So we happen to be in the Lutheran Church of Missouri Synod this podcast will be out after the Synod Convention, of which I'm a delegate and praying that, as we have robust conversation around a number of different issues, that we would disagree agreeably and unite from that place to go on mission as the Lutheran Church of Missouri Synod in her various contexts. So, in your experience, what are some of the strengths of the Lutheran Church of Missouri Synod, and then some of her struggles, and what are your thoughts about, maybe, how, by the Spirit's power connected to the word, this trajectory of decline could change into the next generation?Speaker 3:
Yeah, so some of the strengths obviously our theology right, and that's huge and what we believe, we teach and confess, and also the institutional church, like hey, there's a lot of things that are really well structured, that just help our church body to hum right and to run. But so we're really good at the organized aspect. My concern is maybe we've lost some of the organic relational components, whether that be congregations working with each other or different circuits working with one another. And what does it look like for us to work together? Well, one conversation at a time, right, it's just, it's talking, it's being willing to, if you will reach across the aisle and, yeah, someone might have a different stance on whatever the hot topic worship issue is, or schooling issue or whatever, but to be able to go out, have a meal with them, talk about Jesus, build some trust and relationships, I think that's huge. And maybe the other thought is for us to be able to embrace kind of a both and approach to ministry and mission. Right, I'll admit, I'll confess that, you know, when I started kind of down this path looking into discipling, huddles and missional communities and that sort of stuff, there was an element inside of me that I had to repent of that sort of looked at the established institutional church and was like, ah, they just don't get it right. No, no, that's not the case. It's just there's different ways to reach different people. We're in a changing times. How can we embrace? And who showed me that? Your dad, right, like big, biggest, like you know. He, you know, in many ways Peace Arvato is kind of your typical suburban congregation, right, and we had your dad and I had some different ideas on how to reach people, but he just loved Jesus and wants people to know the love of Jesus and that just gushed out of him. And so when I went and sat down and talked with him, he said you go, he blessed me, he empowered me, he got the congregation Peace Arvato kind of behind this and the kingdom of God is blessed through that. So, yeah, so that's I don't know my thought the more that we can talk, it's great, it's a really good thing.Speaker 2:
So yeah, make me emotional. They're talking about my dad man. I'm proud of that dude, yeah. Thank you so much, and the fact that he blessed you and cared for you and has encouraged you down through the years, like he's done with so many. That's a major reason why I do what I do today. If I could be half the man half the leader that he is man. I'd be all right. That'd be all right. So this has been so good. Man, love you, love your family, love the mission Jesus has called you to, and if people want to connect with you or the mission, summon the Alliance, how can they do so?Speaker 3:
Yeah, they can email me at larryat summonmissionallianceorg. Or visit our website wwwsummitmissionallianceorg. And learn more about what we're doing. And would love to whether we have a phone call or someone happens to be in Breckenridge and wants to grab coffee or whatever. Would love to get together.Speaker 2:
So it's not a sucky place to visit. It's an awesome spot, man. You get to live in paradise. Now I'm not a cold weather guy so I'll stay down here, but, man, we just went through that region. Man, it's just spectacular Some of God's greatest work, for sure. It's a good day. Go and make it a great day. Please like, subscribe, share, comment, wherever it is. I pray you found this conversation hope filled. More than that, jesus filled. That's what I'm leaving this man. It's all about Jesus, the work and the way of Jesus and doing whatever it takes to reach people with the story of Christ. We'll be back next week with a fresh episode of American Reformation. We'll see you then. Thanks so much, larry. Yeah, you're welcome, thank you.Speaker 3:
Yeah, dude, I think you should follow us.