In this new web feature, we will get to know the pastors serving in Our District. Each pastor was presented with several questions to answer so that we can all get to know them better. Check back each week to learn about a different pastor from Our North Dakota District.
Rev. Dr. Matthew R. Richard, Zion Lutheran Church, Gwinner
- How long have you been in the ministry?
I have served in the church for 17 years; 10 of those as an ordained pastor.
- How long have you been called to serve in the North Dakota District?
I have been in the North Dakota District for a little over 2 years.
- Tell us something interesting about you that you feel comfortable sharing with the people of the North Dakota District. This could be about you and/or your family, a hobby you enjoy, favorite sport/team, favorite movie, etc.
I have been married to Serenity for 16 years. We have three children. I enjoy fishing, pheasant hunting, watching movies with my family, writing, and a good book with a warm latte.
- What areas of theology have you been studying this past year? What did you learn?
I have spent a lot of time studying in the area of philosophy over the last year – from a Christian perspective. What I have learned is that philosophy is the art of asking big questions about who we are; philosophy is all about understanding the wonder of life and the wonder of the great cosmos. With that said though, there are two types of philosophy. The first way of philosophy goes the way of mankind, whereas, the other type of philosophy goes the way of Christ. In other words, we all seek answers and wisdom, but do so according to either the traditions of mankind or the wisdom Christ. The philosophy that we need most in our day and age is that which goes the way of the wisdom of Christ.
- How would you define “the Gospel?” Why is the Gospel so important?
The Gospel is the good news that God justifies the ungodly through the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ Jesus. The Gospel is a message of forgiveness, life, and salvation for sinners; it is for sinners only – which includes me.
- Who are your favorite authors and books?
I enjoy reading books and sermons by John Kleinig, Robert Kolb, Norman Nagel, and Martin Luther.
- What do you see as some of the greatest concerns in the Church in the North America?
We are in a time where we need robust catechesis. As the church we need to know what we believe and why; we need to know our theology and to be rooted deeply in the scriptures. The challenge for the North American Church is that she needs to plunge deeply into the Scriptures, our Lutheran Confessions, and our historic liturgy in order to remain steadfast in a culture that blows around like a reed in the wind.
- Do you have a personal mission statement, or maybe a Bible passage that is the foundation of your faith and life? Would you elaborate?
I have always been drawn to 2 Timothy chapter 4 where Paul calls young Timothy as a pastor to “preach the word; be read in season and out of season.” This reminds me that the office of pastor is a preaching office and that a faithful pastor preaches consistently regardless if it is received (i.e., in season) or rejected (i.e., out of season). I am also drawn to Paul’s epistle of Galatians, for it provides such a clear message of Justification – apart from works of the Law.
- What are your personal disciplines for spending time in the Word and in prayer? Why do you think this is so important?
My family and I typically read from the Treasury of Daily Prayer in the mornings and each evening we have been singing the Psalms. It gives me such joy to hear my children’s voices singing the Word. As a family we have found that we need this gift of the Word in the morning and evening to ‘frame’ in our days.
Rev. Dr. Matthew R. Richard