Hurry Up & Wait

U.S. Army culture could be summarized in one sentence: Hurry up and wait. As a former Army Sergeant with two tours to Iraq, I can confidently tell you that this is truly an Army way of life. There is an expectation that you will quickly get to the right place, at the right time, and in the right uniform. And then…you wait.

Formation for physical training might be at 5am, but you won’t actually start running till 6am. You hurry up and wait. Formation for airborne ops might be at 6am, but you won’t actually fly and jump till 9am. You hurry up and wait. Formation for a briefing might be at 5pm, but you won’t actually get your briefing till 6pm or later. You hurry up and wait. You get the idea.

Who among us likes to wait? Not me. Waiting is hard. We want our lives to move with the quickness and adrenaline rush of a good 2-hour action movie. Alas, our lives aren’t a cinematic thrill. There is so much hurry and waiting in our lives.

Hurry isn’t actually a problem for many of us. It’s the waiting that is excruciatingly difficult. Hurry produces that dopamine rush. Waiting produces a dopamine crash. Hurry is exciting. Waiting is boring. Hurry is the high. Waiting is the low.

When analyzing the Christian life, waiting (more than hurrying) is commanded and encouraged. Psalm 27:14, “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” Lamentations 3:25, “The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.” James 5:8, “You also, be patient [or wait]. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” From Old Testament to New Testament, the children of God are exhorted to wait on God – wait on His timing, His will, and His direction.

At the time of this writing, I am currently waiting on the birth of my 5th child who is currently 6 days past due. My wife and I are eager to meet our new son face-to-face. There has been so much hurry in preparation for this child, but (for now) we wait. And waiting is good…Hard, but good. As we wait, we will choose to be strong in the Lord by trusting the Lord. As we wait, we will choose to seek the Lord by spending time with the Lord in His Word and prayer. As we wait, we will choose to see the goodness of the Lord by praising the Lord. I trust you’ll do the same in your time of hurry up and wait…

When Leaders Fall…

Nearly every week, we are bombarded with news stories of some leader’s “fall from grace”. It seems that we’re living in an epidemic era of faulty and fallen leaders who leave the rest of us frustrated and frazzled. Yes, it seems that everywhere we look, leaders fall…Religious leaders fall. Political leaders fall. Business leaders fall. Military leaders fall. It would seem that leaders everywhere are ripe to fall.

What makes these leaders fall from their positions of prominence and power? That list is endless. But sexual sins, financial indiscretions, and poor decision making usually top the list of why leaders fall from their places of impact and influence. Sometimes we shed tears when a leader falls, but most of the time, we just shake our heads and move on with life, thinking, “Another one bites the dust…”

I’ve been in leadership positions long enough to know this much: I too can fall and fall hard. No one (and I mean no one) is exempt from leadership failure by means of a moral failure. The Bible is replete with warnings to leaders everywhere…Prov. 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” 1 Cor. 10:12, “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” The Apostle Paul was especially cognizant of his own bent towards destruction and failure as a leader. He wrote in 1 Cor. 9:27, “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” I am quite certain that the great Apostle Paul was ever mindful of the fact that he was just a half-step away from going full-stupid and destroying everything.

So, the next time you read of another great leader’s fall, consider doing the following:

  1. Pray. Pray for the leader who took a “fall from grace”. Pray for the leader’s family as they grapple with sin and shame. In the case of an ongoing investigation into a leader’s failure, pray that the truth would be exposed, that justice mingled with mercy would prevail, and that repentance would come about.
  2. Evaluate. Evaluate your own life and leadership. Look for loose ends and loopholes that you’ve developed to escape accountability. Take more seriously the role that you’ve been given and resolve to keep yourself in check by following proper protocol.
  3. Remember. Remember that there is one Leader who will never fail us. He left his crown of glory for a crown of thorns. He left his throne of splendor for a cross of suffering. When human leaders fall and fail us, it serves as a sobering reminder that our ultimate hope is in a Leader and King who came once to redeem us and is coming back to rule and reign without scandal, without disgrace, and without moral failure. Indeed, His rule and reign will be perfect. How I long for that day. Even so, come, Lord Jesus, come!

2023 Committees

Many of you know and appreciate the pastors and deacons of PFBC. But did you know that we have so many other incredible servants out here on the prairie? Below are the PFBC Committee Members serving you and our church family this brand-new year. Please be in prayer for these folks as they serve our church family…

Audit Committee:

Darwin Carroll

Klint Gingerich

Decorating Committee:

Cheryl Bohn

Kendra Gingerich

Miscellaneous Positions:

Nursery/Child Care Coordinator – Heather Cotner

Church Librarian –Emma Diment & Marti Owen

Head Usher/Director of Security – Jerry Dunbar

IRBC Messenger – Pastor Tim

Food Fellowship Coordinator – Nancy Wilson

Perks of Being a Small Church, Small Town Pastor…

A small town has a way of growing on you. Now, I understand that the phrase “small town” means many things to many different people. From my perspective, Washington, IA is a small town with a little over 7,000 people. However, I’m fully aware that some of you out there would define a small town as comprising just one flashing red light with a few hundred people (or less). But I grew up in cities of 60,000+. So, from my vantage point, Washington, IA with a population of 7,000 is a small town. And a small town has a way of growing on you.

I remember when I first took the pastorate out here on the prairie. It was the fall of 2013, and I was truly excited at all of the possibilities in front of me. However, if I was completely honest, I didn’t really know how long I would stick around. For many years after I took this pastorate, my heart yearned to be in a bigger church in a bigger city. But God has a way of changing our hearts and causing us to love His desires for us.

A little over 9 years into my adventure out here on the prairie, I absolutely love it. I mean that…I’m not just saying that to be nice. This place has grown on me in so many ways. I love being a small church, small town pastor. Indeed, there are plenty of perks to being in my situation. For instance,

  1. As a small-town pastor, you get to do a little bit of everything. From preaching God’s Word on Sunday morning to making hospital calls on Monday morning, there is plenty to keep me busy. I officiate weddings and funerals. I perform counseling and administration. I prep for meetings and lead in meetings. I officiate the ordinances and help throw special events. I even help clean the church on occasion. I don’t specialize in any one area of ministry. I get the privilege of doing a little bit of everything. In fact, it’s kind of funny…In the church world, bigger is usually associated with better. But in the Army world (where I served from 2006-2010), smaller is usually associated with better. In the Army, the more elite the soldier, the smaller his unit or team. I kind of like that analogy. In some ways, it gives me confidence that my small church, small town ministry isn’t inferior to a larger ministry. In fact, in some ways, it’s better.
  2. As a small-town pastor, you get to watch people grow up. What I mean by that is usually the people I’m ministering to in a small-town will stick around for a long time. Many of them were born and raised here and have no intention of ever leaving. That means for those individuals who marry and have children in this area, they’re going to stick around for a while. Which means I have the privilege of watching their children grow up. I get to visit these new babies in the hospital, dedicate them a few years later, teach them lessons in our Wednesday night kids program a few years after that, and continue to watch them grow up out here on the prairie. As I watch, I pray, and ask for God to do a work in their lives that only God can do.
  3. As a small-town pastor, you get to engage more relationally with your community. In other words, you get to really know your community by really getting to know the leaders in your community. Because of the nature of the small-town I minister in, I’ve gotten to know our business leaders, law enforcement officers, funeral directors, real estate agents, attorneys, military veterans, and even our mayor. I get the opportunity to pour into these professionals, getting to know them personally and praying with them and for them. It’s a thrill to be walking around the downtown square and meeting people left and right that are simultaneously my neighbors and fellow community leaders.
  4. As a small-town pastor, you get to make a true impact. My heart often aches when I hear of pastors who bounce from church to church every 2-4 years. How can you get to know your people and make a lasting impact when you’re only at your church for such a short period of time? I’ve only been at Prairie Flower Baptist Church for a little over 9 years and, in many ways, I’m just now beginning to feel like I’m connecting with my church and community. I long for the day that I hit the 10-year mark. And then, once I hit that 14-year mark, I would have surpassed my predecessor and will be the longest serving pastor in Prairie Flower’s almost 170-year history. How exciting! But more than that, I just firmly believe that the longer I stick around this small church in this small town, I can make a difference in people’s lives. How? By consistently sharing the Word with them, praying for them, being there in their high points and low points, and loving and leading them no matter what…And one of the best ways I can love and lead my people is by joyfully committing to stick around for a while. And I plan to do just that. Why? Because a small town truly has a way of growing on you. I guarantee it.

2022 Lead Pastor’s Report

Dear members and friends out here on the prairie,

            2022 is now in the rear-view mirror and 2023 lies before us. I am determined to enter this new year with great joy. Why? Three thoughts: 1) We have good news of great joy that is for all people, namely, a Savior has been born (Luke 2:10-11), 2) We have a good task of great joy to make more and better disciples (Matt. 28:18-20), and 3) We have a good God of great joy who has promised to strengthen us with His joy (Nehemiah 8:10). I want to encourage you to walk with me into this brand-new year with great joy.

The Joy of Better Focus

            As I enter this brand-new year, I am committed to focusing on three main things. First, I want to focus on my relationship with the Lord. I want to reignite my relationship with the Lord by focusing on a better devotional life and prayer life. I also want to take more seriously my participation in Baptist Church Planter’s Leadership Journey that will fuel my knowledge and love for the Lord. Second, I want to focus on my relationship with my wife and children. I want them to get more and better time from me. I want to be more present at our family outings and events. Indeed, with my fifth child set to make his debut in just a few weeks, I want to be a better husband and father. Third, I want to focus on my relationship with you – my church family. I want to pray better prayers for you. I want to preach better sermons for you. I want to lead and oversee this church body in better and greater ways.

            Since these are my top priorities this year, I promise you that I will not take on any additional ministry responsibilities. Certainly, I must continue in my commitments to our State Fellowship as the Chairman of the Council of 10. Yes, I must still participate in my community roles as a Kiwanis member and Chaplain for the American Legion. But I will not be taking on other leadership roles or responsibilities for this year. This means that I will not be accepting “extra-curricular” speaking engagements at camps or conferences. This also means that I will not be taking part in special ministry events as a committee person or chairperson. For this year, I must take concentrated time to focus on my relationships with the Lord, my family, and church family.

The Joy of Last Year

            As I enter 2023 with great joy and a better focus, I’m also so grateful for last year and all that God accomplished in us and through us. Last year was truly a year of great joy for our church family. This past year, people were saved, baptized, and added to the church. Indeed, we brought in eight new members this past year. What joy! We were also able to host and participate in conferences, camps, and missions’ trips that saw much spiritual fruit, including young men accepting the call into full time Gospel ministry. What true joy indeed!

            Perhaps the best highlight for me this past year was my missions’ trip to South Africa with Willie and Sadie Van Der Molen. Our two weeks out on the savannah were simply wonderful. We were able to lead in a youth camp that Welkom Baptist Church (in Welkom, South Africa) hosted. We were able to preach, teach, sing, counsel, and lead in a variety of different events at this youth camp. Seeing a young lady come to faith in Christ and hearing of two young men saying yes to pastoral ministry truly delighted my heart and filled me with great joy. Thank you, Prairie Flower, for sending me and the Van Der Molens on this great adventure to the heart of South Africa.

The Joy of New Goals

            So, with 2022 and all of its’ highlights behind us, and with my firm commitment to be a more balanced Christian, husband, father, and pastor, here are my church goals for this brand-new year, submitted to you with great joy…

  • Preaching – In terms of preaching, my goal is to simply plow through the book of Genesis this year. We are half-way through this incredible book, but we still have a long way to go. I have purposely left out a lot of special speaker slots for this new year so that we can continue to meaningfully meander through this beefy book of Genesis.
  • Leading – In terms of leading, my goal (if the new church constitution is ratified) is to transition our leadership team (pastors and deacons) into two separate teams – a core team (comprised of staff pastors and potential lay pastors) and a deacon team (comprised of deacons only). Surely, things will be clunky for a bit as we get used to a new rhythm of life and leadership out here on the prairie, but this new form of distinct church leadership will be so good for our church family, resulting in better shepherding, accountability, and fellowship.
  • Overseeing – In terms of overseeing, I want us to declutter our lives and ministries. We need to begin to focus on a few things and do them well, instead of doing many things and doing them poorly. This will take a lot of prayer and evaluation on my part, but this year will be a brand-new year of me, and my fellow pastors, quietly assessing all of our ministries and determining where we can “cut the fat” to be leaner and faster as a church body. Why? Because “we desire to be a strong church that makes disciples for the glory of God.” This isn’t just a catch phrase for me. This is a reality to be prayed for and planned for.

With Great Joy,

David Cotner

Lead Pastor, PFBC