Church planter Nathan Hedt will be LCA/NZ’s next Pastor for New and Renewing Churches.
Pastor Nathan, who has served the Lakeside church plant at Pakenham in outer suburban Melbourne for the past six years, will take up the role early in 2021. He succeeds Rev Dr Noel Due, who is retiring after being in the position since January 2018 and having been a mentor to Pastor Nathan.
Pastor Nathan will remain based in Melbourne for his new post, which also includes managing the New and Renewing Churches Department of the LCA/NZ’s Local Mission office. While he will be sad to leave Pakenham, he is excited about the new role and believes God has been preparing him for the new challenge.
‘I think God’s been shaping me towards a role like this for a while’, he said. ‘The church-planting experience is really difficult but is also incredibly joyful and has been really good in shaping me towards this. My heart of an evangelist which wants people to hear and understand the good news for themselves is important in this. And I think also I have an ability to teach and to convey some of the excitement and the content about evangelism and church planting.’
LCA/NZ Executive Officer for Local Mission Dr Tania Nelson said she was excited to have Pastor Nathan join the team in a full-time capacity.
‘I know God has been at work developing in Nathan the skills required for furthering and inspiring the church-planting movement in the LCA/NZ’, she said. ‘He comes to us with a heart for God’s mission, a good understanding of church planting in action, membership of the former interim Board for Local Mission and the current Committee for New and Renewing Churches and post-grad studies in mission.’
She also paid tribute to Pastor Noel’s service. ‘Noel has been an integral part of the growth in the LCA’s church-planting movement’, she said. ‘He has been a coach, trainer and pastor to many. We thank God for his pastoral care, his theological insights, his wise shepherding and wonderful contribution to local mission resources.’
Married to Yvette with three young adult daughters, Pastor Nathan was born in Horsham, Victoria, but moved to Tanzania in Africa at six months old, where his father worked with Lutheran World Service. The four years he spent there as a child gave him an enduring love of cross-cultural mission and development. He has a Bachelor of Science degree from Monash University, a Bachelor of Theology and Graduate Diploma of Ministry from Luther Seminary/Australian Lutheran College, and a Master of Arts in Theology, majoring in Missiology from the University of Divinity. Ordained as a Lutheran pastor in December 2003, he served the Nambour parish on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast from 2004 to 2008, before taking on the role of Pastor for Tertiary and Youth Ministry for the Victoria-Tasmania District from 2008 to 2014.
New and Renewing Churches has a goal of planting 230 new churches in the next decade and while Pastor Nathan acknowledges that is an ambitious aim, he believes it is what the Church has been called to do.
‘If we don’t aim for things that only God can do, then we’ll only see what we can do’, he said. ‘There are so many things emerging that I look at and know it had to be the Holy Spirit at work. So, yes, it’s very ambitious, but we also believe it’s a faithful way of approaching what God wants to do.
‘For 25 years I’ve been praying for something like a church-planting movement within the LCA, so to see it actually happening, that’s been a wonderful privilege. I’m also hopeful and prayerful that the work will expand, but also that the culture change in the LCA will be in a missional direction and that we take up those words of Jesus, “As the Father sent me, so I am sending you”.’