Towards the end of my trip to the southeast, I drove from Atlanta up to Charlotte, North Carolina. There, I spent some time with Pastor Scott Suskovic, the senior pastor at Christ Lutheran Church.
I had met Pastor Scott a few times, at the “Senior Pastors of Large ELCA Congregations” conference that I participate in every spring.
Christ Lutheran is unique among ELCA churches.
First, it is distinct because it is a large Lutheran congregation in the Southeast. There are not that many Lutherans in the American south. That region of the country is dominated by Baptists, and other denominations that we’d consider more evangelical or conservative. So for Christ Lutheran to have grown to the size it is is pretty remarkable.
The other unusual thing about Christ Lutheran is that it is a multi-campus site. They have three different locations around Charlotte. While we see this among non-denominational churches, it is pretty unusual in mainline congregations.
Pastor Scott is a good pastor doing innovative and creative work. We spent much of our time talking about the journey that large congregations are on as we step out of COVID. He does some pastoral coaching and mentoring and talked about the level of exhaustion among pastors.
He talked about the way that Christ Lutheran had grown over time. and that it while they certainly did planning and strategic work, a lot of their energy (especially in the last couple of years) was really in being responsive to the needs that were emerging in the community.
Christ Lutheran has also experienced a lot of staff turnover in the last year. So they are working on filling those staff positions. Pastor Scott talked about the absolute importance of finding the “right” person to fill key staff roles.
We had a good conversation and I discovered (as I have with all the other congregations I have visited) that we all have a lot in common. While that includes some uncertainty about the future, it also includes a strong sense of hope in the love of God as we move forward.
It was a good reminder of what I have said many times before: “We don’t know what the future holds. But we know who holds the future.”