This was Roger Bird’s response when his pastor asked him if he’d be the church planter they’d done a nationwide search for, and hadn’t been able to find.
“I don’t like church that much. I don’t want to be the main guy.”
He was the “kid guy,” the one who was happy to leave adult church to lead the children. But when his pastor asked him to just take the first online test given to potential church planters, he did. And tested higher than anyone had in the history of the Reformed Church in America. Which gave him enough curiosity to read up on church planting (Planting Missional Churches, by Ed Stetzer, in particular).
He explored his gifting; one of his strongest gifts was evangelistic. His surprise at this made his wife, Michele, laugh: “Whenever you find anything you like, a product, a movie, everyone knows about it. You are an evangelist.”
“I realized I was made to do church planting.”
At this point, he’d already been in the Commissioned Pastor program for a year. “I thought it was a good opportunity. I didn’t have any great plans for it.”
But God did.
Roger and Michele joined the small house group that had been meeting in Allegan, Michigan, and threw themselves into the church planting. Their first – unadvertised – meeting in a high school drew twice the people they’d expected. He calls it an “accidental launch,” but, much like his pastorship, it’s only accidental from our point of view. This summer, The Bridge celebrated its sixth anniversary with the gift of a building, and Roger celebrated his ordination as a Commissioned Pastor.
For those of you doing the math, yes, it took Roger seven years to complete the CP program. He didn’t have the luxury of time away from his ministry to pursue studies – and didn’t want it. He was already doing what the Holy Spirit had called him to do. “I’m really grateful to the RCA for having the courage and vision to implement this program. I would never have gone through seminary.”
He uses the word invaluable to describe the program. “We need tools in our tool belt to do this work. The Holy Spirit gives us gifts, and we need tools to use those gifts.”
Even the church history class helped him by grounding his missional approach within the greater contexts of denomination, Western church, and the “grand scheme.” Much like the question he considers when meeting someone new, “What is good news to this person right now?” it is grounded in the Good News of Jesus on the cross, but finds expression in the specific: rides to work, kids picked up after school, help with car repair, a visit in jail, support at a sentencing hearing.