“A lot of people have a hard time believing their pastor loves them; so I learned to knit so I could get closer to my congregation.”-Tim Witte (pictured below)
If there’s a resident pastor who knows about loving a congregation, it’s Tim Witte. Over a year ago, Tim became the Church Revitalization resident at College Wesleyan Church in Marion, Indiana. After graduating from Indiana Wesleyan University, Tim joined CWC’s residency program to gain ministerial experience and coaching. “The idea of being equipped while taking ownership of ministry makes a lot of sense, because you can learn and do at the same time,” he said. Tim’s residency has done just that: “College Wesleyan gave me a great ministry foundation. They showed me how a funeral is done, how preaching is done, how to care for and visit a person, and a lot more.”
After eleven months of experience at College Wesleyan, Tim was offered another growth opportunity. In early July, the district superintendent approached CWC needing a pastor for a small church near Marion. As a Church Revitalization resident, Tim was the logical choice; but becoming senior pastor wasn’t on his first-year residency timetable: “The first thought through my head was ‘How do I preach every Sunday? I need to start working on sermons!'”
However, Tim knew he needed much more than a plethora of sermons in order to minister to this church effectively; he needed a team. Revitalization teams require people, vision, tenacity, and collaboration. Tim’s vision came from his own experience: “I didn’t pressure people into it. Instead, I just shared what I believe. I honestly think people get a lot more out of life when they’re active in ministry—whether full-time ministry or not.”
As Tim recruited volunteers, he saw a common factor among those who came to serve at Countryside: a tangible sense of calling. “Before people came to volunteer, I encouraged them to pray and seek God’s face, because it’s different from what they’re used to. Everyone who stayed at Countryside came to visit the church, and God spoke to them.” Tim’s commitment to prayer is the foundation of his ministry. Because Tim is attentive to God’s voice, he’s freer to attend to the work God’s doing in the congregation. This awareness—of both God and congregation—distinguish Tim as an admirable pastor.
As other prospective residents search out residency programs, Tim has some advice: “Find a ministry space where you can take on responsibility. You’re the pastor now, and you need to bear some of the weight of ministry. Find a residency that provides real ministry and empowerment to do the work of the Church.” For pastors, Tim’s story yields another lesson: be humble enough to connect with your congregation—even if that requires knitting.
Residency is a part of the Wesleyan Church’s Early Ministry Initiative, which works to train and equip leaders for a lifetime of ministry. For more information about Residencies, click (here).
Ethan Linder is a staff writer for Education and Clergy Development. Hailing from Seaford, Delaware, Ethan and his wife Sarah currently live in Marion, Indiana–where Ethan is pursuing a Masters’ Degree in Christian Ministries from Indiana Wesleyan University, and Sarah is a teacher. When he’s not writing, Ethan enjoys reading, listening to music, studying cultures, running, and following the Philadelphia Phillies.