The Great Adventure of Revitalization

By Kyle Bueermann

It’s a bit cliché, but it’s true: A song changed my life.

In the summer of 1997, I was a 14-year-old kid moving from the 8th grade into High School. By that time, I’d been a believer for around 8 years. I think over the previous couple of years, God had been calling me into ministry, but I wasn’t quite sure what was happening. It had dawned on me that, standing at 5’8” and with limited athletic ability, my dreams of playing for the Dallas Cowboys most likely weren’t going to happen.

That summer, Lifeway’s VBS theme was, “The Wild and Wonderful Good News Stampede: Telling Other About Jesus.” One of the songs included on the music CD that year was Steven Curtis Chapman’s “The Great Adventure.” At the time, I was learning to play the guitar, and was mostly listening to and playing country music. Most of the gospel music I’d heard to that point didn’t interest me.

When I heard the opening guitar riff to “The Great Adventure,” it grabbed me. Then the words hit. Here was a guy singing about the Christian life as an adventure. That wasn’t what I’d experienced or heard about to that point. (It’s important to note that I was 14 … so, I don’t think that others hadn’t talked about it, rather that I probably didn’t have the “ears to hear” until that moment.) Suddenly, there was an excitement to the Christian life that I hadn’t considered before. I think it was during that week that God solidified my call to ministry, although I wouldn’t officially “surrender” to the call for a couple more years.

Over the next decade and a half, I served mostly in youth & worship ministries. Then, in the middle of the most difficult year of my life – a year that included my dad passing away and the only time I ever really dreaded going to my job at a church – God began calling me to move into a lead pastor role. Again, I fought this because 1) I didn’t think I was qualified and 2) I saw the pastor I was serving with at the time take a lot of cheap shots and I wanted no part of that.

Still, after several months of struggling with the Lord, I couldn’t escape the call. So I started sending out resumes and waited for the calls to come pouring in. (I had, after all, just finished my M.Div.) And … nothing. For months, there were no calls … no emails … nothing. Churches were not lining up to have me come serve as their pastor.

Finally, in an act of desperation, I sent a resume to a church in a small town in New Mexico. They called me within a couple of weeks. And thus began the most exciting decade of my life (to this point). Over the next nine years, I served two churches in New Mexico, one of which was facing significant struggles. Just as Steven sang (I just assume we’d be best friends if we got to have coffee once), there were a lot of mountains and valleys. But it certainly was an adventure.

As I once again approach a new decade of life, I find myself in a role where I get to champion pastors serving in church revitalization and replanting in some of the smallest and most remote places in North America. And I can tell you from the stories I’ve heard, this really is a great adventure! Sure, there are some days when guys want to throw in the towel, walk away from their church and serve as a funeral director or sell insurance. But there are a lot of days when they walk away encouraged because a teenager came to faith in Christ, they saw an addict freed by the power of the gospel or they saw a marriage restored. We’re seeing once-dying churches come back to life all across the country.

Getting to hear these stories and be a small part of them is the greatest adventure I’ve encountered yet!

So whether you’re reading this on the mountaintop of the best weekend you’ve experienced or from the depth of the lowest valley of despair you can imagine, know that God is working in you and through you in ways you likely won’t understand for years to come. And there’s still more to the adventure! Don’t lose heart. Saddle up your horses, and get ready for what God will continue to do in your life and ministry!

Just for fun, here are some other reflections on The Wild and Wonderful Good News Stampede.

And for a bit of nostalgia, enjoy the classic music video to The Great Adventure. That hair is … really something.

Published February 3, 2023

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Kyle Bueermann

Kyle Bueermann is a Rural Specialist for the Replant Team. He served as a youth and music minister and as a senior pastor for nine years in New Mexico. He’s married to Michelle and they have two kids: Noah and Hailey. He’s a fan of the Texas Rangers and loves black coffee. Kyle and his family live in Lubbock, TX.