From a Pastor's Heart
Four Changes for the Better
By Chris Lorentz, Pastor of Membership Services & Operations for IMF
Greetings to all of you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. As you may have read in a recent communication from our General Overseer, Frank Masserano, my name is Chris Lorentz, and I recently joined IMF as the Pastor of Membership Services and Operations. My wife, Ashley, and I have five kids at home: Isaiah 8, Carsten 7, Brynna 6, Judson 4, and Dawson 19 months. Needless to say, our house is a bit crazy, but we love every second of it.
I cannot express the joy that coming on to serve at IMF has provided me both personally and professionally. It’s been over a decade since I finished seminary at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and the years have brought great deal of changes both personally and professionally. Not all the changes seemed for the better at the time. In fact, many of these changes brought with it more pain and questions than answers, but through it all our God has been faithful, providing windows of hope when all hope seemed lost.
Yet I can say with absolute certainty that the experience over the past decade have prepared me for my time serving Christ and His Church here at IMF. It is incredible to me, when I realize, how God orchestrated my secular work experience to compliment my pastor's heart in this role. Though I’ve only been in this role for two months, I have learned a great deal. I wanted to share with you today four changes that God is weaving into my life through my time at IMF.
1. IMF is broadening my understanding of the Church
My understanding of the Bride of Christ has been shaped by my experiences. Growing up in a wonderful community of faith here in Minnesota was such a blessing. But what I’ve come to realize as I interact with so many others is that my experience only gave me a sliver of how God is moving in the world today. We are reminded in 1 Corinthians 12:12-14 that, “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.”
IMF reaches into churches and ministries across the globe, from many different Christian traditions. I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve each one of these and to see how God is moving in a wider context than just my traditional understanding or preferences. Ephesians 4:3-6 says, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” That unified pursuit is what excites me about IMF. I am grateful to be a member of this fellowship that recognizes God’s work throughout His Church.
2. IMF is challenging my way of thinking
It’s easy for us to think that our way is always the right way. Too often we surround ourselves with others of the same mind who affirm things that we believe to be true. During my short time at IMF, I have had the opportunity numerous times to engage people from different backgrounds, experiences, and points of view. I have had to, on numerous occasions, swallow my pride and begin to see events and experiences differently. I once read this, though I cannot recall where, “The need to win an argument is how you lose a relationship.” My wife will tell you I love a good debate, but too often we let the debated issues become the division between us. I am realizing more and more that the humility and love of Christ must be what binds us together. Paul’s words in Philippians 2:3-4 ring ever true, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
IMF has stirred again the desire in me to be more about the things that unite us. The desire to act in love and humility shapes everything we do. I am truly enjoying every opportunity I get to serve each of IMF’s members out of the grace, humility, and love we’re given in Jesus Christ. I pray that God continues to challenge my thinking as I seek to serve Him each day.
3. IMF is impacting lives for Christ on a global scale.
How often do we stop and think about the world around us? I can honestly say that for me, before joining IMF, the answer to that question was not as frequent as I should. It is easy for us to get focused on the day to day aspects of our lives and lose sight of the bigger picture. In some sense I would say that it is a natural reaction to the experiences we all have. Yet, what if we take a step back and ask God to open our eyes? Brandon Heath sings, in his song, Give Me Your Eyes:
Give me Your eyes for just one second
Give me Your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me Your love for humanity
Give me Your arms for the broken-hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten
Give me Your eyes so I can see
At IMF, I’m beginning to see with a broader perspective. How incredible is it to realize that through the work of men and women of IMF over 126,000 people chose to follow Jesus Christ in the past year! That is amazing! That is making a global difference for Christ! It is so exciting to be a part of an organization who has a desire for global impact for Christ.
4. IMF is strengthening my personal relationship with Christ
We all go through seasons of growth. These last few months have been an encouragement to me personally. The men and women I get a chance to interact with daily, to pray with, seek counsel from are warriors who have lived out their faith well. Their insights have helped me to grow deeper. Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”
IMF’s national office is filled with iron sharpeners that I am encouraged by on a daily basis. I am grateful for their support and encouragement as I learn in this new role. Likewise, know that we are here to be an encouragement for you as well. Whether you need a listening ear, a word of encouragement, or someone to pray with you, we at IMF are here to serve you.
If you can’t tell, I am so grateful that God has opened this door for me to serve you here at IMF. These are only four changes that, I believe, are for the better. I look forward to how God is going to continue to use IMF to change my perceptions, my thoughts, and my impact for His kingdom in the years to come. Please know it is with the utmost sincerity that I say this: if there is ever anything we can do for you, do not hesitate to ask. At IMF we exist to serve those who serve others.