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Trusting While Transforming
Matt Wipperman, Madison, WI
Interview By Dan Haupt
In late 2010, the Church received a huge blessing and affirmation that our vision is in step with God's leading. We were awarded a $50,000 grant from the Siebert Lutheran Foundation to help fund the initial costs of site leaders and leadership development. We have used some of the funds to pay a part-time stipend to Mike Peters, site leader at the Church in Verona, and will use the remaining funds to compensate the site leader for the Church in East Madison. We praise God that he has lifted up a person to lead that site! Effective August 29th, Matt Wipperman left his position as an engineer for National Electrostatics Corporation to take a full-time position at the Church as Director of Missionary Multiplication and Site Leader – East Madison. The following interview gives us a brief introduction to Matt and Kate (his wife), and their hearts.
Why would you leave a secure job (where you were very well liked) to take a full-time position at the Church?
I had to do something that my heart is really in, something I feel called to do. My heart is with the people in the Church and I've felt called to ministry in some capacity for a while, which is why I started the Specific Ministry Pastor program. I really enjoy the classes and I'm looking forward to being able to apply what I'm learning. I'm so excited to be able to spend all of my work time with the Church. I feel like I've been struggling to get the things done that need to be done for the Church in East Madison, and I'm really looking forward to having more time to focus on it. The notion of a "secure" job is one of the things I got caught up in. Work is a blessing from the Lord. All that we have, including any feeling of job security, comes only from the Lord. He is our provider, He is our security.
Reflecting back, would you share with us some of the ways that God worked in your life to prepare you and Kate for this significant transition in life?
Kate and I usually spend time on Good Friday examining where we are in our life and talking about where we feel God is leading us. A few years ago Kate was feeling that she wanted to do something different with her career, and about that time I got more serious about checking out the Seminary. Later, Kate felt a calling to leave her job and pursue a career in nursing. Money is an easy excuse, but for us, God let us down easy, one step at a time. About that time I heard about the Specific Ministry Pastor program, where I could take classes from the seminary online and eventually get ordained to be a Pastor. Pastor Jeff and the Church supported us pursuing the SMP program and our coaching sessions with Lynn Schoener helped us identify that we wanted a change. God has been so faithful to always provide us with whatever we need.
What were some of the struggles and obstacles you and Kate faced when trying to decide whether or not to accept the position at the Church, and could you share with us a little about the process you used to make your decision?
The first was the uncertainty of doing something different. It's easy to stay put in the patterns that have developed and we wondered seriously about the long term money situation. Kate's in school, we have a bunch of school loans for her education, and if there's only funding for my position for 5 months, is it being a good steward of what God has entrusted to us (job) if I leave it? There was a stage where we were focused on the financial well-being of the congregation and the other staff. We also worried about how well I will function in a new role, with a different amount of structure than I had at my old job.
We prayed and talked about it and consulted my Dad, who has been a Pastor for 33 years, and whose counsel I value highly. We talked with some of our friends about it, and then asked to have a meeting with Jeff, Amy, Dan and Renee'. Kate and I had been pretty stuck up to that point. But I remember that we walked out of the Meyer's house after that meeting and on the way to the car I asked Kate what she thought, and she said, "I think it sounds good, I think you should do it if you want to." And I responded, with, "I do want to" accompanied by a grin from ear to ear. I wanted to run back into the house and tell them all that we were going to do it, but I decided to sleep on it one more night. We prayed about it again, and in the morning we told Pastor Jeff we wanted to do it.
Would you be willing to share any "AHA" moments or realizations as you and Kate struggled to make the decision?
First, the feeling that a job is secure, and subsequently trusting a job for our security is just backwards. God provides everything. We are secure in Him alone. Even the work that we have is one of His gifts to us. So to trust the blessing, and not the One who blesses, is to make an idol out of "job security."
We've also come to a different understanding of seeking God's will. Often, the passions and desires we have come partially because of who God made us to be. Just because we want something, doesn't mean that it isn't God's will. After praying, testing our motivation, and looking for ways God is leading us, we feel more free to move ahead, trusting that He will bless it if it is His will, and if it's specifically not, we'll find out. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Can you tell us a little about what you will be doing in your position with the Church? What are you most excited about?
I will have two primary roles. Director of Missionary Multiplication, where my tasks will be to multiply leaders who are equipped to disciple others, develop a process with Pastor Jeff and others to facilitate discipleship and leadership, and with Pastor Jeff create a system of resources that are available anywhere, anytime, anyplace, in whatever format for discipleship that meets a person's needs. As Site Leader – East Madison I'll be facilitating the launch strategy of the Church in East Madison I'll also be engaged in the lives of those on the East side, encouraging each person as a missionary and as a disciple, to impact the region and people God has entrusted to us. I'm most excited to spend more time with people in East Madison, and to learn how to best serve the needs of our neighbors and friends together.
What do you and Kate like to do when you have "free" time?
We like to go for walks, hang out with friends, exercise at the Y, hike, camp, travel, most things outside, and most things with friends. Weekend nights we like to curl up and watch a movie.
Is there anything else you would like to share with people at the Church?
If you're not in a lifeGroup, get in one. lifeGroup has been one of the most dramatic ways God has worked in our lives. Amy Meyer can get you in touch with a lifeGroup leader that would love to have you come to try their group out, no strings attached. If you feel stuck, or just unsure in some way, ask about talking to a Life Coach.
We praise God for the privilege of being in mission with Him, and raising up Matt and Kate to help us. We hope that reading a little of Matt and Kate's story will inspire each of us to courageously follow God's calling in our own life. It should be noted that the Siebert grant will fund Matt's salary through December 2011. For 2012, we are trusting that God will provide through you as each of us participate in the 1impact Vision Campaign.
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