Hello, everyone, and thank you for joining us this week for another unSeminary podcast. I’m excited to have Scott Kramer with us today. Scott is the executive pastor at GT Church, which has two locations in Pennsylvania.
GT Church is a 91 year old church with a very contemporary feel. They aim to make their message relevant to real life issues. The church went through a traumatic time two years ago when their lead pastor, Bryan, and his wife were hit head on in a collision with a drunk driver while riding their motorcycle. Bryan’s wife died instantly and Bryan was pinned under the vehicle for several hours. There were many uncertainties during this time, including whether Bryan would survive this terrible accident. But after several blood transfusions and the loss of his left leg, Bryan was released from the hospital. He stayed out of the leadership for a while until he was ready to step back into his role. Scott talks with us today about what a church might go through during a crisis like this, and how to keep the church moving forward with its mission without turmoil and confusion.
- Know your pastor’s heart. // When the staff first received the news of the accident, everything came to a screeching halt. There were so many questions about what the church should continue to do or not do during that uncertain time. A large Vacation Bible School outreach was coming up, a missions team was leaving for Uganda the following week, and other events needed to be reconsidered. But the staff at GT Church knew that Bryan would never have wanted any of their ministries to stop, even during a tragedy such as this. They knew his heart would tell them to keep reaching out and pursuing Christ’s call to the church.
- Recognize the importance of structure. // The leadership of an elder board and internal staff had been structured at GT Church long before this tragedy. Bryan had often told the staff that if something happened to him someday, someone else would have to take over and lead the church in its mission. The church was bigger than just Bryan or any of them individually, and that was the point he wanted to make sure everyone knew. Scott was named interim pastor while Bryan was recovering. By Bryan and the rest of the church leadership already having put a contingency structure into place, there was no scrambling to determine how things might continue, or finding someone who could lead the church. Having this structured board in place was a great gift in keeping the church’s leadership in place to guide the members during this time of tragedy.
- Ease into the path. // When Bryan had left the hospital and it was clear that he would return to his position in the church when he was able, Scott and other members of the church would stop by to visit. They gave him updates on what the church was doing. Diving immediately back into ministry right after leaving the hospital and dealing with the tragedy he had been through was too much for Bryan to take on right away. But eventually his mind began to clear and he felt well enough to go out on visits himself, and slowly he began attending staff meetings. At the meetings, the staff began to talk with Bryan about whether he might do a one day sermon at the church. This allowed him to ease back into talking in front of the church without the commitment of taking the permanent job on again right away.
- Be ready on God’s time. // Transferring leadership back to Bryan depended on when he was ready. It wasn’t something that could be done right away, or something that was assumed to happen when he first preached again. Scott let Bryan know that it was up to him when he was ready, and that Scott would lead in his absence as long as needed. It was the structure Bryan had set up long before this time and it allowed the church’s ministries to continue smoothly. Allow healing to take place, and give needed space for everyone to be ready in God’s time.
You can learn more about GT Church at their website http://www.gtaog.org/
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Helpful Tech Tools // Podcast Preaching
Inspiring Leader // Ron Carpenter
What does he do for fun // Spending time with family, Golfing
Contact // Website: gtaog.org