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Student Spotlight: Mission-focused student finds opportunities at CSL

Editor’s Note: The following article, “Mission-focused student finds opportunities at CSL: Dave, Gretchen, Malachi, and Raelynn McGinley, Mid-South District”, is reprinted from the Winter 2014 edition of Concordia Seminary magazine, a publication of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. Dave McGinley is currently a vicar at LakePointe Lutheran Church in Hot Springs, Ark.

Dave, Gretchen, Malachi, and Raelynn McGinley - Mid-South District.
Dave, Gretchen, Malachi, and Raelynn McGinley – Mid-South District.

Dave McGinley always had one of those nagging feelings that he was called to be a pastor. But like a lot of people, he needed to explore some other paths first.

A native of Woodbury, Minn., Dave received a scholarship to play basketball at Minot State University and started thinking about a career in business or teaching. After a year, however, he wasn’t enjoying basketball and decided to transfer to a small school in Winona, Minn.

“I got involved in a church there that kicked off my journey to finding my calling in ministry,” Dave commented. “A pastor friend became a mentor for me during a time of great need and helped me think through what I’m supposed to do with my life.”

Dave transferred again to Concordia University Chicago and enrolled in the Director of Christian Education (DCE) program. “I sat down with my home pastor, Rev. Dean Nadasdy, and I told him where I was at and where I thought the Lord was leading me. He advised me to go
the DCE route because I would see firsthand what it is like to be in full-time ministry.”

He served his internship for two years at St. John Lutheran in Defiance, Ohio, where he primarily focused on high school ministry.

“Being a DCE also helped me understand the importance of a devotional life and to constantly grow in my own faith,” he said. “I am continually striving to have a strong devotional life and read books that will help in my ministry, because people will look up to me for answers and advice about their faith.”

“I am continually striving to have a strong devotional life and read books that will help in my ministry.”

“One skill that I learned as a DCE was how to create priorities in my busy life,” Dave continued. “For me, it is important to remember that schoolwork is important and is my job right now, but I am also a husband to a beautiful wife [Gretchen] and father to the two cutest kids [Malachi, 3 and Raelynn, 1] that anyone could have.”

The McGinleys took a second call to Grace Lutheran in Knoxville, Tenn., which also had a church plant called ThePoint, shepherded by CSL grad Rev. Matthew Peeples (’09). “I got to see a really good example of how a church plant
works alongside a mother church,” Dave commented.

The Point meets in a shopping mall that has a movie theater attached to the mall, a fact that Dave is ready to defend.

“I think you have to ask a fundamental question of who is the church for? The church is God’s church and his message is for all people. A traditional church building can be off-putting for some people, and I think that having Word and Sacrament in a movie theater can reach a whole different group of people. We never forfeit Word and Sacrament in worship, but if a change in venue can help to spread the Gospel then I think we should make it happen.”

McGinley (left) sings at the Opening Service 2012.
McGinley (left) sings at the Opening Service 2012.

From his experiences at The Point, Dave’s ministry journey became very mission-focused. Since starting his studies at the Seminary, Dave has participated in Church Planting Assessment Center (CPAC), a program with a set of inventories that determines if a person might be a good candidate for church planting.

He has also taken Concordia Seminary’s newly instituted MissionShift courses. “MissionShift was a great experience. It was fascinating to see firsthand so many different ways that a church can connect to its community. I will always look back at MissionShift as a formative time where I learned how to reach people who are outside of our walls.”

The McGinleys’ next mission will be a vicarage assignment next year. “I have been very fortunate to have many great mentors in my life,” Dave said. “And I am hoping to have another one in my vicarage supervisor — someone who loves Jesus, is a great husband and father, and leads people with integrity while always looking at the bigger picture.”

And Dave has found a way to incorporate one of his first loves into his Seminary career — he plays for the Preachers basketball team at the Seminary.