Dakota, by Kathleen Norris is one of my favorite books in the whole world. She writes about how people live in small towns, specifically on the plains of the Dakotas. Small towns are interesting. They can be beautiful places to visit, and terrible places to live. The people in these communities are wonderful hosts to visitors. They welcome them, bake for them, and bend over backwards to make sure a visitor’s short stay is as comfortable as possible. But move there, and you’re an outsider – forever. In her book, when a town has an opening for a new School Superintendent, Norris talks about hearing someone say, “I hope they don’t get someone who wants to change everything.” It’s this kind of insularity that preserves tight-knit communities, but can turn destructive when professionals from the outside stop offering themselves as resources to drive growth and vitality.

Church communities are similar to small towns, and I believe that being a pastor in a new church is one of the hardest paths to choose. With that, we welcome Scott Elgersma and his family! Scott is the new lead pastor at The River Christian Reformed Church in Redlands. His wife and kids are awesome. They love carne asada, so order extra when you make burritos for them. Scott had some extended family visiting a couple of weeks ago, and we took the opportunity to go out and get some photographs of the whole clan.