Real Life Church | Pastor Jim and Beth Gooden
When we are entrusted as stewards of something valuable,sometimes the hardest thing to do is release it to others. That can be especially true in church leadership, yet that’s exactly what Pastor Jim and Beth Gooden have embraced at Real Life Church in Roseville. They have felt called to trust God to lead “openhanded” and inspire their congregation to do the same. They knew from the start they needed to rely on a team of leaders and faithful congregants to have effective ministry in their community.
When they stepped in to lead Real Life Church, Jim and Beth began to cast vision of a family-focused approach to ministry to their team. The heart was to see a church where generations of families could worship together. Elementary-aged students worship with the teens and adults before heading to the kids’ areas on Sundays.
Everyone shares in worship and communion, because that’s when, as Jim puts it, “the passion of the youth meets with the wisdom of the elders.”
With input from their team, they also developed a curriculum for every age group, specifically tailored to teach the fundamentals of faith from birth to graduation. They have deliberately connected with parents to let them know the church’s role is to partner with parents as they disciple their own kids. It’s an intentional approach that promotes biblical literacy with a goal of each student having a faith of their own before they reach the college campus. Multi-generational intentionality can be seen on a pastoral staff level as well. Pastor Bruce Kallies, a seasoned minister who served as the interim pastor of the church before the Goodens were voted in, has stayed on as the Care and Teaching Pastor. At the same time, they’ve also hired North Central University graduates who have flourished with Jim and Beth’s open-handed approach to leadership. Everyone is taking ownership of their ministry areas and working as a ministry family to lead together. As Jim notes,
“You can teach the skills, but you can’t teach the passion.”
They also minister open-handed locally in their community. They want people in the neighborhood to know Real Life Church is a place where they are welcome and valued. A recent sermon series focused on mental health, shaped by counselors from within the congregation. They tackled topics like anxiety, anger, depression, grief, and addiction. It gave people freedom to acknowledge that sometimes things are not okay, but they can find healing in Christ.
The desire to trust and obey has led them to be open-handed even in the pulpit, giving up five weeks in a row each year to have missionaries preach. This has given the congregation a renewed missions focus and has revitalized their giving as well.
With all of these areas of focus, it would be easy to be worn thin, but Jim and Beth wouldn’t dream of doing this all on their own. “I’m going to do the things that only I can do,” Jim stated. The rest he entrusts to his staff and members of the congregation.
At Real Life Church, they operate in obedience and intention. They operate open-handed, because, as Jim put it, “If you live closed handed, God can’t give you anything more.” What God is giving this church in Roseville is growth, and health, and a contagious passion.