Pastor Todd Buurstra“I think we made a very good choice!” said one of the youth sponsors that was able to spend a little time with Mark Swart this past Sunday. “I agree,” I replied. So I want to use my article this month to help introduce Mark as I am getting to know him because I believe him to be God’s choice for North Branch. And, as of this writing, it looks like he’ll be here in early November.
Mark is…
…passionate about youth. Three months ago I would have thought, That’s nice, but having spent the last two months with the Senior High youth group, I think this quality is critical. God has given us this abundant blessing of many youth in our church. We need one pastor who is deeply committed to stewarding this gift. For these young people need godly guidance.
…comfortable in his own skin. I’m sure that preaching on Sunday, and meeting so many new people might have been somewhat nerve-wracking for him, but I was impressed how he stayed within himself. He didn’t seem to try to be anyone that God hadn’t created him to be. He came to the ‘Ville football game on Friday night when he wanted to meet people, and he turned down an offer on Monday night to eat supper with us because he needed alone time. I like and respect that.
I also found that “skin” is a significant part of his theology since I would describe it as incarnational theology. That is, one of the organizing principles of his thought is that the church needs to be the body of Christ as the hands and feet of Jesus today. Reminds me of that 99.1 song, if we are the body…
…trained as a teacher. Don’t quote me on this, but I believe his undergraduate focus was on teaching. At least I know that he thought about teaching as a calling for a while. When I hear him preach, I see a teacher. One way we probably complement each other is that when I preach I often seek to inspire, I think that he may seek to teach.
…enjoys sports. Especially the same teams that I root for from Michigan. Go blue! He played tennis in college and has coached the game. I could see that he understood football strategy really well as we watched the game Friday night. Connect over sports, if you can.
Look forward to getting to know him better; for in getting to know each other better we get to know Christ better. And Mark, above all, will help us know Christ better.
Peace and joy,
Pastor Todd