An Open Letter to My Grace Church Family

Dear Friends,

Why would anyone look to either of these characters for spiritual leadership?

It’s an exciting time at Grace Evangelical Church in Elgin. It’s been a year-and-a-half since we left our Grace Church family for our new adventure in Texas with our new family at Waterbrook. It’s been 18 months of new and exciting things for us, but it’s been a wait of that same length for Grace Church to find a candidate to become your new Lead Pastor. Now that you’ve got that man, I wanted to share a few thoughts on that candidate.

WHY in the world would someone want Dan Bohyer to be their Senior Pastor?

I’ve known this man, Dan Bohyer, for nearly 20 years. First, as a punk kid, then as a punk teenager, and later as a punk college student. (He is definitely consistent.) THEN he came back from seminary and I got to know him as one of my favorite pastors of all time.

If you were to call and ask me to give you a reference for Dan Bohyer, here’s what I’d tell you…

I have incredible respect for Pastor Dan Bohyer. I enjoyed showing up at the FIRE meetings on Sunday or Tuesday and hanging out to watch him interact with students and leaders. He’s never considered himself a top notch teacher, but I love his teaching and preaching. One of the reasons I enjoyed hanging out in the back of the Firepit was to listen to him teach. He’s one of the deepest thinkers I know and I have spent hours over the years in conversations that ranged from practical pastoral practices to difficult theological issues. Dan is no lightweight. I suppose we can thank his parents and Dallas Theological Seminary. As with many other preachers I personally know, guys like Todd Burrow and Jim Botts, I keep up with their ministry and listen to their sermons while running each morning. Dan’s teaching is in that category, and he’s become one of my favorite preachers. (By the way, I’m still waiting for his 2-part sermon series on heaven and hell to get posted online so I can download and listen. Ahem.)

As far as pastoral care, if I have a need, Dan is the pastor I’d like to have show up. I have great, many very funny, stories about some of his mistakes with people. Every pastor has a catalog of those experiences – times where we mess up or don’t know what we’re doing. Dan is real. I’ve never met someone so insecure about what he should say, yet so good at showing up and being in the moment. He’s a pastor who’s never fake; he shows up and cares. I’ve seen him sit with people in silence and cry with people in pain. He’s developed into a fantastic counselor and comforter.

He’s innovative. In the last five years, many of the advances in how I do ministry have been either his recommendation or because I watched him do something and decided I also wanted to do it that way. It’s common knowledge that a business or organization that isn’t moving forward is in the process of stagnating and dying. The tendency is to maintain the status quo. I believe Dan is the fresh leadership that can provide some new ideas and innovation to keep Grace Church moving forward and growing in the future. He’s better than any outsider because he can bring fresh ideas with full knowledge and respect of how things have been done and been successful in the past. He knows the people and culture of Grace Church better than any new pastor who would likely take at least a year before becoming effective.

Dan also has personality. It’s dangerous to pursue a pastor because of his gifted strengths. Churches are attracted to those men because they communicate vision and help people see a brighter future. Someone extremely gifted in these areas can easily leave God out of the equation and try and lead on his own strengths and ideas. Dan is very likable. He’s a gifted leader. He’s also humble and sees his own faults before anyone else. He’s hesitant to toot his own horn, and quick to turn to God for guidance.

So, a gifted, yet humble man. A man who already loves the people of Grace Church. Someone who Grace Church has invested in – as a kid, student, intern, and eventually a staff pastor. A guy who’s weaknesses and mistakes are already on the table and aren’t lurking somewhere waiting to be discovered. There are lots of pastors who are good at either pastoral care or solid theology. Dan is one pastor comfortable and good at both ends of that spectrum. This is important, because a good pastor is one who minsters to a congregation with a blend of those two categories.

Are there people who might not accept him as their new lead pastor? Always, even if you were to bring in someone from the outside. Won’t the transition be awkward if he goes from student ministry pastor to senior pastor? Probably, which is why the congregation members have to work hard helping it be smooth. Does he have more to learn as a pastor? Sure, but I wouldn’t trust a pastor who thinks he doesn’t. In fact, he’ll have to focus his growth in new areas. That should keep him excited and engaged in his next job for 10-25 years.

Here’s my secret…I told Dan I believed God was calling him toward a senior leadership position BEFORE I left Grace. It’s something I saw in him some time ago. Grace Church isn’t just deciding whether Dan Bohyer should be the next Senior Pastor of Grace Church. The bigger question they’re probably deciding is whether Dan Bohyer will use his gifts and calling to engage Grace Church into a new period of growth and enthusiasm; or if he should go somewhere else and let them collect the rewards for all GEC has built him up to be as a leader. If Dan said that, it would sound like a threat. It’s not, it’s a reality. Dan is stepping into a new phase of his ministry, and if Grace Church doesn’t want him, I know several other churches who would jump at him as a candidate. In fact, if I had any position open at all, he’s the top man on my candidate list. Well, except for a music position.

I’m hoping and praying with Dan & Jenny, and with Grace Church this weekend. I’m praying for positive interaction and clear leading from the Lord. I wish I could be there during this exciting time. Grace has sent guys off to minister as pastors and missionaries in Kansas, Arkansas, California, many foreign countries, and even Texas. People in all those locations are grateful for the men and women you’ve shared from your church family. I think God may be allowing you to reward your own church body with one of your own.

It’s just my unsolicited opinion.

Posted: May 15, 2010 
Filed under: Elgin IL, Grace Evangelical Church, Jeff, Leadership, Pictures
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