Our family is being sent out from our home church (NewBranch Community Church) in 5 days to move to Arlington, MA to plant a church. I’ve been mulling over a lot of what God has done over the last 7 years at NewBranch. By far, the most transforming part of my time here has been being discipled by my pastor and friend, Ken Rucker. Ken is the kind of guy who wouldn’t like this post. That’s why I think it’s worth writing. Plus, it’s my blog. So let me brag on my pastor a bit.
He opened up his life
Ken is not just my pastor. He is my friend. Our families are friends. We’ve spent time together outside “official church business.” While I see him do the work of ministry, I also see him do the work of husband, father, and friend. I would say this is one of the most important pieces of true discipleship. Friendship is the foundation upon which a relationship of spiritual growth is built. He has built that well. I would trust him with anything.
He preaches the gospel
When I first came to NewBranch I listened to a lot of sermon podcasts. I wasn’t really hearing any good live preaching on a regular basis. Then I stopped listening to so many. Why? Because I thought (and still think) I was hearing one of the best preachers. He has preached the word consistently and faithfully, in and out of season. His preaching has helped me read my Bible better. His preaching has helped me preach better. His preaching is heart-piercing, Jesus-centered, and God-glorifying. This kind of preaching is rare. I love it and will miss hearing it each week.
He has a passion for the mission
7 years ago I sat down with Ken at a coffee shop and he told me his vision to hire young men called to ministry, train them at NewBranch, then send them out. I was sold on the idea. Right now, NewBranch is our biggest financial supporter in our church planting endeavors (by a long shot!) Our small church has sent missionaries to Africa and Indonesia. Both of whom Ken visits yearly. He has lead mission work abroad and in our own community. He longs to see NewBranch show and share the gospel. His preaching is the kind that makes you uncomfortable by constantly confronting you with your responsibility to live on mission.
He Loves People and Shepherds Well
I’ve watched him counsel people, lovingly correct people, and encourage people. I’ve seen him get his hands dirty. This is what shepherds are called to do. I’ve seen him love the seemingly unloveable; people that I might be quick to write off as a lost cause, and people who don’t love back. Like good preaching, this too is a rarity. He’s not trying to build a platform. He’s not aiming to be a celebrity pastor. He’s aiming to shepherd the flock that God has given him, and he’s nailing it!
I could go on and on: He’s a wonderful husband, a godly father, a hard worker, and ridiculously humble. My departure is bitter sweet. I will miss our weekly meetings, sitting directly under his ministry, and we’ll miss his family terribly. But I look forward to putting to work what I’ve learned to Ken. I hope to pour into people the same way he has poured into me. After all, isn’t that what discipleship is?