"That is oftentimes my biggest joy. To help people discover what's already inside them." -Andrew Burchett
From time to time we'll be highlighting members of our CPD family to get to know them better. The questions and answers below are from an interview with Pastor Andrew Burchett, Neighborhood Church of Chico
Name: Andrew Burchett
Church: Neighborhood Church of Chico
Years in Ministry: 25 Years
Please introduce yourself:
Well, I am the husband of one wife, Linda, and the father of three kids; Katherine, Michael and Amy (Mimi); 18, 16 and 9. It is strangely wonderful to be the lead pastor in my home church, the church that I grew up attending and the place where I gave my life to Christ and became a Sunday School Graduate. It's my seventh year as the Senior Pastor at Neighborhood Church and my 20th on staff.
What drew you into full time ministry?
I was in a small group bible study with our high school pastor and so we would play basketball, read the bible and drink sodas, every week after school. It was during one of those times that I looked at him and thought, "I think his job is pretty cool, I might want to do that someday," and that led me on a journey to discover more and more about ministry and what it's about and what you really do.
After having a conversation with the senior pastor at our church, I decided this would be the direction of my life and I haven't turned from it since. His advice was to go to Chico State University and get a heart for people and then if I still wanted to be a pastor, then I should go on and go to seminary and get training. So that's what I did.
In college, I was traveling to different youth ministries and churches in the region and doing some speaking, worship leading, and performing. It was on one of those retreats I was speaking at that I realized I really want to do this with the whole of my life. That just gave me more assurance that I needed to continue to follow this path, finish college and go on to study theology.
I went to seminary at Talbot Seminary at Biola University in La Mirada, California. I earned a Master's of Divinity there and along the way was mentored and empowered by quite a few people in ministry who helped me learn what it looks like to communicate effectively and to shepherd people.
What are you most passionate about in your ministry?
I'm passionate about seeing people use their gifts and walking their calling. I am also very passionate about people who don't know Jesus, giving their lives to Jesus. Overall, I'm really passionate about experiencing the life to the fullest that Jesus came to give us and then sharing that with everybody that I can.
I like to watch people really carefully to see what the Lord might be showing me about them and what things might be hidden that no one else can see: Passions, gifts, interests, calling maybe that is buried deep within, underneath insecurity or fear or trying to play the role that everybody wants them to play.
When I discover that, then it is my delight to go after them and begin to call those things out of them and challenge them. I invite them to come alongside and do something with me where they could use those gifts and then as they then see the fruit that's born. I can then celebrate with them and then try to introduce them to what the next step might be. That is oftentimes my biggest joy. To help people discover what's already inside them. That's not a very systematic answer but that's who I am.
For example, last week I met a young lady from Scotland at a wedding and she's a professional dancer on the cruise ships. As we shared around the table together and talked, I just began sharing my life and my family's life, explained why I do what I do in my life and try to get out why she does what she does. She ended up coming to church last Sunday and heard the message and came down front and talked to me afterwards and then we bid her farewell last night as she's back off to Scotland tomorrow.
In the midst of sharing the good news of the Gospel, I was trying to share my life as well. That's what Paul says, that we were delighted not only to share the Gospel but share our lives as well. That's what we did with this new friend of ours. Everything inside me said this girl's gonna respond to the Gospel, she's gonna respond even while she's here. But that didn't happen. And that didn't lessen my enthusiasm for trying to find other ways to build a relationship with her so that hopefully she can see Jesus in us, even if it's via Facebook. We've planted a seed in the Nations that the Lord will see to it that it gets watered and that it comes to fruition.
It was an interesting ride home last night because I remarked to my children how even though this is a beautiful, delightful woman with a wonderful accent, that the light of Jesus is not in her eyes and you can see it. So, we began to pray as a family that she'd begin to have dreams of Jesus at night, that would begin to lead her to himself. It was a very valuable lesson for my son who's like, "She's so beautiful," and I responded, "I know, son, but she doesn't know Jesus and it'll be a short trip. Plus, she's five years older than you, bud."
Tell us a little about the church you lead.
I have the privilege of being the fourth Senior Pastor in the last 53 years at Neighborhood Church in Chico. A part of our DNA, Neighborhood Church contains a real passion for creativity in the way that we share the Gospel. So, in the past, that manifested itself in large musical productions and other ways that we did things in our city that other churches couldn't do to share the message of Jesus.
Now, in the present day, though we don't have large scale musical productions, we still seek to tell stories and help people understand God's bigger story so that means that we're constantly looking for creative ways to be a church that introduces people to the life that Jesus said he came to give us, that life to the fullest. That takes on a variety of different forms.
Also, part of our DNA really comes down to mothering and fathering. As I think about our congregation, we're at our best when we're coming alongside the next generation however old that next generation is. It was our founders’ thought to have the generations walking together, so much so he envisioned a retirement center on our campus. Although we never built one, the heart is still intact to have our oldest saints coming into contact with and pouring their wisdom into those of us who are younger.
So, we are certainly an expression of the Church of Jesus Christ. Neighborhood Church belongs to the Alliance and celebrates the outreach and mission of the Christian Missionary Alliance, but we are also a very community minded church that has deep relationship and partnerships with other Christian churches in our city to make a difference right here in the neighborhoods where we live.
What are you dreaming about for the future?
We continue to dream about giving more and more of our money away. Whether it's to our Spanish Church, which is a local expression of our mission to those who don't look like us but that are near us. We also endeavor to partner with the Alliance in greater ways as we have chosen two fields, Cambodia and Jordan as the two fields that we're really going to be sowing into in the years to come.
We're currently giving money to these fields, to these special projects but we have a vision to be able to send short term teams to those places and do special projects in those places to really make a difference in the same place in a sustained way. So, as we continue to be able to invest more of what God gives us into missions, the Alliance is part of that puzzle.
Then even locally here, feeling like the Nations come to Chico State as international students and we want to do a better job in the future loving the Nations while they're here. We've begun a strategic partnership with Intervarsity Christian Fellowship which has an international student's emphasis that we want to get behind and see more and more of our families at Neighborhood Church adopting these students in relationship and having them over for dinner and building relationships so that we can introduce these students, who often come from closed countries...countries that are closed to the Gospel and as they're here, let them hear the Gospel and see our lives as well.
We want to see a greater emphasis on missions right here in our city, right here in our homes as we continue to reach out to people who don't look like us but that are near us. As we do that, I believe that the Lord will give us eyes to see those who are actually just like us, his children.
We would love to be able to share your thoughts with our CPD family. If you write a blog, or do other forms of writing, we'd like to consider utilizing you as a guest blogger. Please contact us if you're interested!