Patience in the pulpit
When Mennonite pastor Lauren Martin preaches, he doesn’t get frustrated when he sees parishioners sleeping in the pews.”Sermons are a challenge because most people I know work really hard, their places of work are stressful, and they are dealing with constant change,” said Martin, who will celebrate his 13th year as pastor at Glenwood Mennonite Church in May. “If you bring a bunch of people in one place all at once on a Sunday morning, they will fall asleep. I’m up there, and they’re falling asleep or worrying about their kids. Even Christians get bored easily, and that is a challenge I take personally.”Martin said he always knew he would play an influential role in the Mennonite church. Martin is the youngest of six children; his father and brother were both ordained deacons. He entered the seminary not long after a life-changing, spiritual experience as a teenager.”When I was a junior in high school, I had a very vivid experience where I just felt an overwhelming clarity that God was calling me. There was no vision or voice – I just felt God’s call in my life,” Martin said. “I went to seminary to become a teacher and there’s still an academic part of me that says, ‘Yeah, see the world. Go for it.'”Although he did not follow the teaching career path, Martin said he often educates parishioners as pastor of Glenwood’s only Mennonite church.”You get invited into people’s lives in incredible ways,” he said. “I did a seven-week series on money and faith and those sermons meant a lot more to people because they knew I was excited about them.”Shelley Gardineer, a 21-year Glenwood Mennonite Church parishioner, said Martin’s approachable leadership style is what makes him different than other pastors.”The thing I love about Lauren is that he is so genuine and real. As a congregation, we’re open to listening to what is in Lauren’s heart,” she said. “Lauren builds friendships with people. I don’t know why there aren’t 500 people in our congregation.”Gardineer said she has been friends with Martin since he arrived in Glenwood Springs in 1992 with his wife, Kim, a childbirth educator and registered nurse at Valley View Hospital.”The first time I talked with him I asked him whether it would be right or not to stay home and watch the Chicago Bears on TV when they played the early game on Sunday,” she said. “He’s not afraid to say the hard things people need to hear.”A self-described introvert, Martin said he prefers one-on-one discussions with members of his congregation and the general public who seek out his counsel.”I’m much better in a small group. It took me a long time to feel confident about preaching because I don’t want the role of making someone feel guilty,” he said. “The biggest gift in pastoral ministry is the confidentiality and respect that goes with it.”Contact April E. Clark: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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