“I knew I wanted to do church planting, because amid all the challenges of starting a new church, the one great blessing is you get to start with a clean sheet of paper.” This was one of the early comments I heard as I interviewed Pastor Robert Balduc, lead pastor of St. Peter Lutheran Church in Roanoke. And that positive and pioneering spirit was evident throughout the time we spent together talking of his experience in leading this congregation located off of Highway 114 and Cleveland-Gibbs Road.
A native of Michigan and a former marketing professional with Ford Motor Corporation, Pastor Balduc is no stranger to Texas, having lived here for the better part of the past 23 years. Three of his years away from Texas were spent as a seminary student at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri where he concentrated on Pastoral Formation in preparation for the work he’s now doing at St. Peter’s.
Pastor Balduc shared that “For me, it (Concordia) was a special moment in time where I was allowed to just simply think about God and study without any other distractions or interruptions.” For Pastor Balduc and his family, Concordia and its 80 acre campus served as place where “iron sharpened iron in talking about ministry,” and it was a place of fellowship and camaraderie between students and faculty. But it was also a place where the theoretical classroom teaching was met with practical application in times of service and outreach. “The way that pastoral formation works at Concordia is that in addition to your studies in the classroom, you also are assigned to a field church in the area, and then you begin to perform some of the duties of what a pastor would be expected to do. And you do that every week,” said Pastor Balduc.
After graduating from Concordia, he followed his calling into church planting, was ordained in 2005 and served on the staff of Peace Lutheran in Hurst while laying the foundation for the launch of St. Peter’s in September of 2006. Meeting in Hughes Elementary for the first 4 months, and the Roanoke Recreation Center for the next 3 and half years, the congregation acquired property and built their current facility which was opened for worship in the Fall of 2010. Finding their current location was a result of due diligence in researching the area. “One of the things I learned as a church planter, is that you can read reports in your office and look at maps, but really the best way to do it is through ‘boots on the ground.’ You’ve got to drive around and walk the area.”
That hands on mentality of hard and practical work is a prevailing theme in the operations of St. Peter’s and is woven into the discipleship model and the vision of the church--Following Christ in the power of the cross. “As the pastor, you’re the visionary, you’re the spiritual leader, and whatever you’re passionate about, and what you feel like you’ve been called to, that’s the (discipleship) model you employ,” Pastor Balduc stated.
He continued saying, “For us, the way we make disciples is, we focus on three things: Worship, Education and Rock Groups, which is our small group ministry. In Rock Groups , while you’re having fellowship, time in the word, ministry of the Holy Spirit, times of prayer—and that’s where some small groups tend to end—for us, our groups ultimately ask the question, ‘What are we going to do as a group that doesn’t serve ourselves, to be outward?’ And that’s a very intentional act, because the inward stuff will always happen. It’s a gravitational pull. So how do we serve others together?”
Going further in describing this threefold focus, Pastor Balduc commented, “Worship, education, Rock Group--we know people don’t have a lot of time, so here are the things that we believe, if you do these things, you’re going to be coming into a greater way of growing into your relationship with Christ and the Holy Spirit will be working in your life. This is the core from which you branch out” into other activities at St. Peter’s.
In addition to Wednesday gatherings, Sunday morning services, ministry for children, youth and the entire family, many of those activities also take place outside of the church in the community. St. Peter’s Rock Groups are free to find the outreach activities to which they are drawn and this past year participated in 187 community driven activities connected to local organizations such as the Nelson Children’s Center in Denton, Christ Haven in Keller, Habitat for Humanity, local nursing homes and the Roanoke Police Department. Each year, St. Peter’s intersects with the Roanoke community with the 4 major local events including the spring Easter Egg Hunt, the July 4th fireworks show, Celebrate Roanoke in October and the Christmas Parade, participating as sponsors and serving in multiple capacities to enhance these events in a variety of ways.
The inspiration for Pastor Balduc and St. Peter’s community involvement is simply to take the church to the places where people are living and doing life. Pastor Balduc added, “I’ve also gathered a great admiration for the military as our ministry model…that says we’re on a battlefield. I like the analogy that the church is a military base. On a military base, you do have a hospital, a mess hall, recreational facilities and you do have training and development, but the ultimate purpose of the military base is to train and deploy the troops on the battlefield to secure the victory. You need the camaraderie and fellowship, but never lose sight of what’s the real purpose of why we’re here.”
• St. Peter Lutheran Church is located at 15701 Cleveland-Gibbs Road in Roanoke The church phone number is 817-491-2010. Regular service times are Sunday mornings at 8:30 am and 10:45 am with Education classes at 9:45 am.
• In addition to the church, St. Peter’s also operates Concordia Academy, an academic Preschool and Kindergarten preparation program. The academy is open for enrollment of PreK 2 year olds through Kindergarten for the 2011-2012 school year. More information including tuition & fees, application forms and the parent handbook can be found on the website. • Women's "Girly-Girl Spring Fling May 21st, 4:00 pm at the church. Dinner, fashion show and other feminine frivolity.
• Men & Youth "Advance June 18th