Q & A With Jon Rocha

In order for you to get to know your Pastoral Intern (Jon Rocha) a little bit better, and in anticipation of his May 3rd vote (we will be voting on whether or not he should be extended the call to be our full-time Associate Pastor), we  have decided to publish some of the answers that he gave to us (i.e. the Leadership Team) on his Pastoral Questionnaire:

1) What are your goals in service to the Lord, and how will a change in location or change in ministry enhance these goals?

  • My goal for ministry is to be faithful to His calling. Success in God’s eyes is faithfulness despite the circumstances. In Hebrews 11, we see great men of faith and their success by both man’s and God’s standard. At the same time, many prophets and other Bible characters were just as faithful, but in the eyes of man, they were seen as unsuccessful. In God’s eyes those men were given a divine task, and they were successful. I see faithfulness as a call to do the most with the opportunities God places in front of me. This is reflected in my answers below about discipleship, counseling, and evangelism.

2) What new ideas, if any, would you like to implement in a new pastorate?

  • A youth program that is seen as more of a partnership between the parents and the youth pastor in order to better facilitate discipleship in the lives of teens.
  • Making our own teaching curriculum…
  • Tying all the different learning levels together so our families are learning the same things…

3) What are you doing in personal evangelism other than your public preaching and teaching ministries?

  • Using the opportunities God has given me in everyday life. I try to build very intentional relationships with the people God has put in my life through the army, work, and even just brief interactions.
  • More specifically, I have been seeking opportunities to share the gospel with three guys I work with and my medic from overseas.

4) What are you doing in personally discipling individuals or small groups apart from your public preaching and teaching ministries?

  • I use the same method as evangelizing.
  • More specifically, I have led a Bible Study at Drake University for the past two years and I am the Captain of the Faith Baptist Bible College Men’s Basketball Team. There are a number of different relationships (at Drake and on my basketball team) that I have built for the purposes of discipleship.

 5) What are some qualities you are looking for in a new church?

  • A church open to changing preferences and not doctrine.
  • A church enthusiastic about their walk with the Lord.
  • A church with a younger demographic.

 6) Are you willing to lead a church through a building program?

  • Most people view building projects as a recipe for church splits and so they shy away from them, but I think they are sign of growth and enthusiasm to spread God’s Word. I have been privileged to be a part of a building project in West Des Moines. I have learned from the pastoral staff that the right focus and motivation is key to a successful church building program.

7) List any special talents and abilities you have.

  • Leading
  • Building Relationships
  • Good Manager
  • Outgoing

8) What are your hobbies and interests?

  • Fishing
  • Sports
  • Manual Labor
  • Hunting
  • Reading
  • Working on Cars
  • Camping
  • Learning
  • Anything Outdoors

 9) Frankly rate yourself in the following areas. (0-10; 10 being outstanding)

___7/8__ Preaching / Teaching Ability

___7____ Personal Prayer Time

___6____ Personal Bible Study

___8____ Leadership and Administration

___9____ Pastoral Care

___9____ People Skills

___5____ Evangelism

___7____ Discipleship

___8____ Counseling

___6____ Family Time

10) Which version of the Bible do you prefer using in your teaching ministry?

  • For preparing, I like to use a combination of translations. Sometimes I use up to six or seven at time in order to better understand a passage. I prefer a very literal translation for study. Also, I use paraphrases, but very loosely and carefully. I want to be able to know what the original meaning of the text means.
  • When I am actually teaching, I like to use an ESV or HCSB because they are easy to follow along with, easy to listen to, and easy to understand for a modern day listener; while still conveying the original intent/thought of the author.

11) Please describe, in some detail, your approach to youth programming.

  • I would like to see an emphasis on TRUE discipleship. All too often we teach our youth to spit out the answers, instead of actually teaching them to live out the answers.
  • I also enjoy facilitating games and activities. I would like to do some type of activity outside of the normal meeting times at least once a month. Every quarter or so I would also try to do a very large activity. (i.e. missions trip, lock in, college trip).
  • I would like to meet on Sunday nights, instead of Wednesdays, and have the youth go to prayer meeting instead. This provides teens the opportunity to be stretched by interacting and building relationships with the older church body. On Sunday nights, we would simply go over the morning message in more detail.
  • For Sunday school, I would like to focus on more technical teaching. I would want to start small and eventually build this program into almost a college level course.

12) What is your position on counseling single women or counseling a woman alone?

  • I would never counsel a woman by myself. I would first direct them toward my wife. If the issue is too complex for my wife to handle, then I would suggest that we counsel the woman together or put her in contact with a female biblical counselor.

13) Please describe the importance of counseling to a local church ministry and your approach to building an effective counseling ministry.

  • It allows the church body to be discipled and fed on a more personal level, and it allows the pastor to better understand his congregation.
  • My approach to counseling is very similar to evangelism and discipleship. It is best to build very intentional relationships with people and be involved in their lives. Counseling can be done very informally…if done right. Formal counseling should be done on request or in the most extreme circumstances.

14) Please give your position toward the following:

A. Church Discipline – Church discipline needs to be done biblically. The end goal of church discipline is the restoration of a believer.

B. The Ordinances – Two ordinances are commanded: baptism and communion. They are symbols and not means of grace.

C. Missions – I do not disagree with having missions’ agencies, but I believe it has become a crutch. It is the churches responsibility to send missionaries.

D. Christian Stewardship – God has called us to be stewards of the gifts, talents, abilities, and possessions we have been given, and they need to be used for His glory.

E. Pastor’s Relationship with Deacons – The role of a deacon is not very detailed in the Bible. In Acts, we see a few deacons and it seems the role of a deacon is very much a service role, hence the title “deacon.” I think the deacons of a church should be the men who are serving the most in the church, and they should have a supportive relationship to the pastoral staff. They still speak on behalf of the congregation, but I do not believe the deacons should run the church. The church has collectively voted on the pastors for this purpose. Acts is a great book to really view how the church functions.

F. Marriage of Believers and Unbelievers – I believe it is strictly forbidden. 2 Corinthians 6:14 is very clear we are not to be unequally yoked. The exception to the rule would be if two unsaved people are married then one gets saved. Then 1 Corinthians 7:12-13 says they should stay together.

G. Divorce and Remarriage – In Matthew 19, Jesus said that divorce was not in God’s original plan, but He allowed it because of the hardness of man’s heart. I think in cases of sexual deviancy divorce is ALLOWED but not necessarily the RIGHT choice. The remarriage portion is still something I am unsure about.

H. Women in the Ministry – I think women can be in the ministry. I think she crosses boundaries if she is a pastor because she does not meet the qualifications of a pastor given in 1 Timothy 3. Also, I believe women are stepping out of their bounds if they are put over  men, in a teaching capacity, as seen in 1 Timothy 2.

Next week, we will continue our in-depth look at Jon Rocha by means of interviewing him with some fun questions!

Three Truths

Three Truths

As you go about your day, remind yourself of these three truths:

1) This world is NOT it…there is eternity that awaits us! 2 Cor. 4:18 declares, “While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” Far too many Christians live as if this world is it, but it’s not! Eternity lies before us. Do not believe the lie that your childhood memories, college degrees, good paying job, husband/wife, kids, grandkids, and fancy vacations is it…because this is not it. We must live in light of an unseen world and live our lives with eternity in view.

2) There is a God out there who desperately and relentlessly loves you. He has pursued you in His grace and mercy and for those of you who responded in faith, He has saved your soul! Romans 5:8 states, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Forget Fifty Shades of Grey and all that ridiculous nonsense…THIS is true love! God loved you so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die in your place…to die for your sins…He died for you before you ever accepted Him as Lord and Savior…that is simply amazing. Never lose sight of this precious truth.

3) Always remember that there is mercy, forgiveness, and all the strength you’ll ever need at the Cross of Grace. The tree upon which Jesus died has the power to save you from your past sins, but it also has power to cleanse you from your present sins and grants to you true power to live a life of righteousness. 1 John 1:9 declares, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness.” Cling to the Cross of Christ…go to this mercy tree time and time again to find the hope and grace that you so desperately need.

Wherever you are…whatever you’re doing…remind yourself of these three simple, but powerful truths.

God bless you guys.

The Interruptions

Life has a way of throwing us many curveballs. Our ability to thrive in this life depends largely upon our ability to handle these curveballs. In other words, if you want to be successful in life, you’ve got to embrace the interruptions of life because, as my Dad always said, “The interruptions ARE the ministry.”

That’s a bit much for me to swallow at times. I mean…I’m a planner…an analytic…I love organization and things running in smooth efficiency. If there is a breakdown in the system, everything within me screams to fix it and fix it now! Bottom line, I (like many of you) do not like when my plans are interrupted, but that’s exactly what happens in life.

In fact, our sovereign God has ordained the means of interruptions to wean us from ourselves. We are so prone to rely upon ourselves (i.e. our gifts, our talents, and our abilities). However, along comes a curveball and all of a sudden we are reminded that we are truly finite creatures with limited knowledge and limited resources. It’s as if the interruptions of life are one of God’s many uncomfortable graces in this life. That is to say, God loves us so much that he interrupts our plans and our to-do lists in order to birth within us true Christlikeness (cf. Gal. 5:22-25).

Perhaps a personal illustration might help to clarify what I’m talking about. The past couple of weeks, for me, have NOT gone according to my plan. God, in grace, has thrown me many curveballs, and has offered me many interruptions, to wean me off of myself (i.e. my pride, my self-sufficiency, etc.). For instance, on Sunday, Jan. 25th, an electrical issue at church turned off all of our lights and cancelled our sound system. We held our Sunday morning service in the dark and with no sound. Clearly, this was not part of my plan! The following Tuesday, I walked into the church building to find the lights not working again and the heater broken. Again, not part of my plan. Then on the following Sunday, Feb. 1st, a massive snow storm (i.e. Snowmageddon) dumped 10-12 inches of snow all over southeast Iowa causing us to cancel services for the day – once again, a curveball (an interruption) and definitely not part of my plan.

However, God has been teaching me so much about Himself in these moments of interruption. First, I’ve been reminded that there are ZERO accidents (i.e. curveballs) with God. I think of Genesis 50:20 and Romans 8:28 that make it so abundantly clear that God is sovereign and works everything for our good and His great glory. Secondly, these recent interruptions have reminded me that plans are always subject to change, but the vision NEVER changes! Plans are meant to be interrupted; and midcourse corrections are absolutely vital if we are going to be successful in life and ministry, but the overall vision never changes with our changing plans. I take comfort in that. Bottom line…we are still very much on track to be all that God wants us to be…even with our changing plans. And thirdly, I am reminded, once again, that “the interruptions ARE the ministry.” My dad is right (again) and I thank God that in these moments of interruption, I’ve found valuable time to minister and serve others that desperately need the love of God through my love, care, and concern.

Prairie Flower, embrace the interruptions of life. Your ability to grow and thrive in this life largely depends on your ability to handle the curveballs of life. Thus, handle these curveballs with God. Realize that these curveballs have been given to you by God, and somehow all of it will work out for your good and God’s great glory.