Most pastors would like to have an office with a window. I have one in San Francisco Chinatown that I can see both the Transamerican building, with its pyramid shape that is now one of the signature cityscapes representing San Francisco, and post 1906 earthquake apartment buildings that have single-room occupants. SROs are simple one room apartments whose residents use common restrooms and kitchen facilities.
When I am inside the church building, I am consumed by tending to the needs of our congregation. I’m calling those who are sick, creating the coming Sunday’s bulletins, publishing next month’s newsletter, planning programs, and of course, finishing up this Sunday’s sermon. Recently, we replaced our staircase carpets with a new vinyl flooring so that our church home is neat and clean. As pastors, most of us spend the majority of our time just tending the sheep.
But when I look outside my office window, I can’t avoid seeing the world. I wonder about the urgent human needs in the SROs that we are not yet aware of. I wonder about the many tourists who come to San Francisco who may be in search for life’s meaning rather than just San Francisco fog. When I look out my window, I am always reminded of how God is leading me and our church to be more missional and prophetic in proclaiming the Good News.
Since the beginning of the year, I participated in a number of pastor gatherings where many of you shared the challenging roles that you find yourselves in when you look out your office window and see the world. We are called to be both pastors and prophets—to tend sheep and to reach out with Good News.
Since the San Juan Biennial in June 2011, our ABC family is earnestly participating in Transformed by the Spirit, an initiative to be open to God’s Spirit to renew and discover God’s plan for us, locally, regionally, and together as American Baptists. For most of us, we know how to be pastoral and for most of us we can certainly discover how we can be more outreaching! God is calling us to go to a new land—for me that might be simply what I can see outside my church office window!
As your Vice President, I look forward to meeting you in the coming two years and maybe I’ll get a chance to visit your church office to see the world.
Rev. Dr. Don Ng
American Baptist Churches USA