Their former church having closed, Tim and Tamara Golden no longer have the title “senior pastors” attached to their names. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t ministering. Now serving as assisting ministers at Life Fellowship (Charlestown Foursquare Church) in Charlestown, N.H., their ministry is actually expanding.
“Your call always determines your position, but your position should never determine your call,” asserts Tim, who also has served as an interim pastor, associate pastor and church planter. Today, as an assisting minister, he oversees discipleship and pre-marital counseling at their western New Hampshire church. It is just 20 minutes from the one they planted in 2000.
“God called me to pastor,” says this son of a Nazarene minister. “The past 25 years have been related to that call. God can take one gift and orchestrate it in many ways.”
When God made it clear He meant for the church plant to represent a rest stop instead of a destination, Tim says it took time for his emotions to catch up with reality. However, he later gained spiritual insights into why the work folded.
Now, in addition to Life Fellowship duties, the Goldens are launching a coaching practice to help others gain a holistic perspective on mind, body and spirit. Plans for Abundant Life Centre include using their three-story home for pastoral retreats.
A nurse and corporate health coach, Tamara is passionate about teaching good nutritional habits as part of a well-balanced approach to life. Because many church members have asked for advice, during 2014 she hopes to conduct health workshops at Life Fellowship that will attract people from outside the church.
“Unsaved people will attend these workshops because they are interested in health,” Tamara explains. “But when we come at it from the aspect of relationship with God and how He designed us, hopefully we can lead them to Christ.”
She wants to build closer relationships within the church, too. So, Tamara offered to host a series of informal brunches this year. The first attracted 10 women eager to make new friends. When Tamara asked participants to share about themselves, their discussion lasted for 90 minutes.
“There were tears and laughter,” she says. “Some healing took place as people got to share what they’re struggling with. I couldn’t have orchestrated that.”
That principle—relying on God’s leadership—is a key insight the Goldens took away from church planting. Tamara says during their eight years with their former church, they learned they couldn’t do everything themselves, including investing too much time in emotionally needy people.
“We were compassionate, but because of that we spent more time on some people than we should have,” she says. “We learned if we were working harder than they were, we had to back off.”
“You have to get into the nuts and bolts of people’s lives,” Tim says of knowing when to discern when someone is ready to grow spiritually. “You can’t know that until you get to know them and see their pattern of life.”
Their experience helped Tim appreciate that success doesn’t just mean looking at numbers (e.g., offerings, attendance) to measure fruitfulness. Otherwise, Tim says, numerous Old Testament prophets would be considered unsuccessful. Instead, he views success as faithfulness and obedience to God’s calling.
“Are we stewarding what He gave us?” Tim asks. “Our gifts, talents and resources?”
Even though their old church is gone, Tim says they planted seeds that are still bearing fruit. And, as he reflects on the experience enabling them to speak into others’ lives, he sees God’s hand all over it.
One example is their plans for pastoral retreats. The couple has prepared in recent years by hosting visiting pastors and missionaries.
“Once they learn that we have walked where they’ve walked, the relationship changes,” Tim says. “Now I’m to the place where I can say, ‘God, I’m willing to follow You even if I’m not a senior pastor again because I’m still ministering to people.’ “
By: Ken Walker, a freelance writer in Huntington, W.Va.