This month, we sit down for coffee and a chat with Father Mark Lauer, Senior Pastor of Christ the King Anglican Church in San Jose, California, and one of AMIA’s Regional Vicars. Before going into full-time ministry, Fr. Lauer was a bi-vocational church planter who worked in the High Tech Industry for 14 years. He has been married to his wife, Shawnie, for 25 years and is father to Morgan. Pull up a chair and join us in learning about what the Lord has been doing in Fr. Lauer’s life and ministry.
What gets you up in the morning (energizes/motivates you)?
What gets me up in the morning is feeling like I’m doing what I have been gifted and called to do. I know that what I do matters both in the here and now, and for eternity. Even during seasons when there doesn’t seem to be much fruit, I know the Lord is blessing the work of plowing the spiritual ground and sowing seeds.
What is your daily devotional rhythm, or what does your own spiritual formation look like on a daily basis?
I most often use the Daily Office as a way to be drawn into scripture and prayer. It isn’t Bible study for me, but simply a way to regularly be in scripture to be directed by the Word and pray in response. At Christ the King Church we start our staff meeting with the Daily Office or by having someone share a reflection from their own reading and prayers. I also close my day in prayer, whether praying through the day that has past or praying for the upcoming day. It is a simple rhythm, and it is helpful to stay present to the Lord and to what’s happening in me and around me.
Also important to my spiritual formation is the practice of Sabbath. This is something I do on a weekly basis. Even day-to-day I try to make time for rest. I also find it important to take structured time off, whether going away on a retreat to clear my head or taking vacation time to connect with my family.
Aside from self-directed practices, I have found great value in working with spiritual directors. Some years I have meet with a director once a month, and some years less frequently. A great spiritual director will ask courageous questions and good work can be done in taking the time to reflect on them.
What do you do in your role as Regional Vicar?
Essentially, I am a pastor to pastors. My main role involves communication, care and coaching. Usually this takes the form of phone conversations and prayer with the clergy members in my cohort (about 12 people). These are great times of encouragement and prayer. I offer coaching or reference to helpful services as needed and requested.
As Regional Vicar I also serve Bishop Philip Jones and Bishop Sandy Greene. If a need exists for a Bishop to minister to someone in my cohort, I will pass that need on to them. Likewise, if information for an event or a request for feedback is needed by one of the Bishops, I will communicate that with my cohort members.
What is the most encouraging or memorable thing that happened in your life and ministry in the last year?
It’s hard to nail down just one thing, but the story that comes to mind is the Alpha course we held last spring. We didn’t get the level of participation that we’d hoped for, and were considering postponing the course. But after praying about it, we decided to move forward, even though only two people were attending who weren’t already a part of our church.
One of our guests was a Visiting Scholar from China, who had been invited by a colleague. We found a Mandarin version of the Alpha Course on YouTube, and he would watch each video before coming to each week’s class. During the class, his colleague would translate for him if needed. The pace of the course was slower, but very effective.
Both he and his wife came to faith during the Alpha course and were baptized on Trinity Sunday. They are now back in China and I know the Lord is going to use them powerfully.
What person has most impacted your life, and why?
I have many mentors, family members, and friends who have shaped my life, but I’d say the person who has most impacted my life is my son. Making the transition from not being a father to being a father has been a very forming process. As I have fathered my child, I’ve gained deeper insights into who God is as my father, who I am as His son, and how we relate to each other. There are also a lot of crossover points to fathering a parish. Emotionally and spiritually, I have grown in greater depth because of my son, and this bears out in how I lead and act in other relationships, too.
What is one accomplishment in the past that you are proud of, and what is one thing that you would like to accomplish in the future?
During the time I was in seminary, my wife and I helped start a new church and I launched a consulting business. It was a very challenging time and sometimes when I look back I wonder how I did it all, but all those things worked together. I’m proud that I rose to the challenge and am grateful for that time in my life. Looking back now, I can see how that season was very directional for me, moving me into full-time vocational ministry.
In the future, I want to see Christ the King Anglican Church continue to thrive. When I joined the church 7 years ago, things were at a low and only got worse before they got better, despite there being many wonderful people in the church family. But we are seeing real signs of life! We are a unique expression of Christ’s church in our region and in the future I see us multiplying. We have already begun setting aside money in our budget and are identifying new leaders. I look forward to seeing what the Lord will do!