Today, the Trinity Lutheran Seminary Board of Directors voted to approve the nomination of Pastor Rick Barger as the new seminary president. This is an exciting time for the seminary as it looks forward in its mission to form new leaders for a changing church.
One word that the nominating committee used to describe its choice was “unconventional.” He didn’t fit the bill for many of the job prereqs, such as having led an academic department at a university. He was as shocked as anyone when he was asked for an interview and even more shocked when he found out he’d been recommended. Even so, the Board considered a wide variety of potential candidates, and as they narrowed down the list, it became clear that Pastor Barger had the “right stuff” to lead the seminary into a new way of thinking and being.
Meeting with Pastor Barger and some of my fellow classmates gave me the chance to get to know him better. He took student feedback and ideas very seriously, and the responses he gave to our questions revealed a keen insight into the future of the church, its leaders, and its presence in the world. I entered the conversation with concerns and left inspired, not because he waxed poetically or fired us up, but because he was sincere, honest, and encouraging.
Pastor Barger is best known for his work as a pastor–well, that and his book, A New and Right Spirit: Creating an Authentic Church in a Consumer Culture, which is required reading at the seminary. His leadership style is… different from what one expects from a seminary president, but his energy, passion, and dedication to serious missional theology and ecclesiology make him a unique choice to move the seminary forward.
I am excited to see where Pastor Barger will lead the seminary and how his approach to the church as mission will shape the way we form leaders for a changing church in a changing world.