Sunday, January 03, 2010

Christy Hontz Lipscomb: Co-Pastor



Christy Hontz Lipscomb graduated in 1998—a bit more than a decade ago but I can never forget her participation in my classes. She was always one of those students who clearly registered the effectiveness (or failure) of my teaching on her face--and right away! When I was making sense I got nods and a smile; when I was garbled, I saw confused frowns and I would try to teach my way out of the ditch until I got a nod again! Christy made me a better teacher—she was an instant visual monitoring device in my classroom--if Christy was nodding I knew was on track.

Christy graduated from IWU, married Adam Lipscomb and after a stint at a church in Michigan they went to Asbury Seminary together then planted city-view Wesleyan church in Grand Rapids Michigan together where they carry on an extensive city ministry as co-pastors.

Christy and Adam are my model for ministry couples in my classes who are looking toward co-pastoring. They each work about 30 hours a week. They share parenting responsibilities and pastoring responsibilities so for them, "co-pastoring means co-parenting." This shared schedule allows them ample time to be home with their two sons, Jude, 3 and Elijah, 1.

Christy preaches about 75% of the time, leads the Sunday morning system (preaching, schedule, topics, preachers, overseeing the worship leader). She also heads up the Discipleship, Ministry, Leadership system and Administration. Adam leads other “systems” including the Strategic, Evangelism, Assimilation, and Stewardship systems

In a nutshell, Christy focuses mostly on running the inner life of the church & Adam does more of the visionary/apostolic/evangelism work of connecting with the community. They’ve even explored the idea of Christy taking on more responsibility at City Life and Adam moving away from City Life a bit to plant another church elsewhere in our city. But that’s not an immediate possibility.

Christy is a disciplined minister who runs her life on a schedule. I saw this in college and see it now in her weekly routine. On Mondays she does initial sermon prep, administrative clean-up & delegation for the coming week and meets with her worship leader. On Tuesdays she digs in for the really heavy sermon prep then prepared Wednesday for their midweek Bible study and meets again with the worship leader. Thursdays is given to additional sermon prep and a staff meeting along with miscellaneous projects (which includes serving part time (10 hours per month) at the West Michigan District Office as an Assistant DS). As an assistant DS her job is to bring attention to social justice efforts in the district, and to women in ministry. Friday is her day off and both Adam and Christy observe their day off “legalistically” by denying (for that day) any church problems. On Saturday night by 6 p.m. they both shut themselves off to focus on Sunday.

I love it that Christy loves to preach. Anyone who heard Christy at the last Wesleyan General Conference understands how good she is. I love it especially because preaching is a Waterloo of sorts for many of my women ministerial students. They want to go into the ministry and do church work as a life’s calling, but when it comes to preaching they sometimes demur—preferring the “let the guys do it.” In my opinion this is one of the greatest barriers for these women in ministry, and Christy is a great model here so I often tell about her in my classes.

Christy serves an inner city congregation where she focuses on the marginal in society. She prepares sermons just as she would if she were speaking to a thousand suburbanites. I love it that Christy and Adam love the church. I doubt they will ever enter a para-church ministry even though it would be far more comfortable for them. They are just too in love with local church ministry for that.

Christy is the sort of past student I rejoice in—even more then ten years after she graduated from IWU. —Christy is my joy and crown. I'm proud of you Christy!

For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 1 Thessalonians 2:19 (NIV)

4 comments:

Tony Myles said...

What a great summary, and I agree... Christy is really quite sharp. I enjoyed sharing classes with her as well and love what God is up to through City Life.

James Watkins said...

And for those wondering if women should be preaching at all, they may want to check out a recent REV. magazine article:

http://www.jameswatkins.com/womeninministry.htm

Chap said...

...and you could check out Wayne Grudem's "Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth" just for some balance.
I'm sure they are wonderful folks, but I would also have a problem with the inherent problems, potential conflicts, myopic vision that come with a married couple co-pastoring a church.

kerry said...

Christy's amazing message at General Conference can still be seen in streaming video at http://www.wesleyan.org/em/videos

It has also been published in the Wesleyan Publishing House publication: Holiness for the Real World (new release). Every Wesleyan pastor should hear this message.

Kerry