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As we near the end of Pastor Appreciation Month, we gave our very own Pastor Matthew Starner a short list of questions – and opened it up to you on Facebook – of things we thought you might like to know about your pastor. So here it is! [Almost] everything you wanted to know about your pastor but never thought to ask!

1. What do you like most about being a pastor at Journey?

Journey is a pretty fun place to be! We’re not stuffy or hung up on tradition. We get to experiment and try new ways of doing things when it comes to being church and doing what God has called us to do. There aren’t a lot of churches out there with that same mindset.

2. If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Pizza! So many varieties and toppings!  

3. What did you do before coming to Journey of Faith?

Before Journey, I worked at Trinity Lutheran Church in St. Joseph, Michigan. I started when I was still in high school as a custodian part time after school. Later, I was hired as an intern in youth ministry, helping to lead our youth worship team, which eventually led to me leading the worship ministry for the whole church for a while.

Before all that, my first real job was working for a sporting goods store on the St. Joseph river selling all kinds of fishing equipment. I started there in 8th grade.

4. Chocolate or vanilla?

It depends on what it is – like, chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream (the good vanilla ice cream with the little specks of vanilla bean in it!)

5. What’s your favorite movie?

Still gotta be Jurassic Park, the original. I fell in love with it as a 10-year-old boy who already loved dinosaurs and I still love watching it!

6. What’s your favorite Bible passage – and why?

John 16:33. Jesus reminds us that we’re totally going to face all kinds of troubles in this life, but He draws our gaze past the troubles and onto Himself, reminding us that those troubles have been defeated by His empty tomb.

7. Baking or cooking? What’s your favorite thing to bake or cook?

I really like both, but since I cheated on the chocolate or vanilla one, I guess I have to choose one, so I’ll go with baking. I love whipping up a fancy dessert and cheesecakes are my favorite. They are powerful magic and if you can make a good one, strangers will bow low in your presence. 

8. What’s your favorite comfort food?

Good, homemade mac and cheese (a favorite thing of mine to cook! There! I beat the system!)

9. What’s the most memorable moment of your ministry?

There have been a lot of memories over the years, but one in particular that stands out was at my ordination. The other pastors gathered around me as I knelt down and placed their hands on me as we all prayed the Lord’s Prayer together. Being in the middle of fourteen or fifteen guys as they all prayed with gusto – it was an intense moment.

10. Favorite church holiday?

It’s too close to call between Christmas Eve and Good Friday. If you forced me, I’d probably choose Christmas Eve over Good Friday, but they’re both my favorite. Christmas has so much great music and it’s all about the warm fuzzies. Good Friday is so rich and moving.

11. If you weren’t working for the church, what would you be doing?

Great question! And I have no idea. Maybe teaching?

12. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Not a pastor, I can tell you that! I had a bunch of different things that I wanted to be, but for the majority of my childhood, I wanted to be a paleontologist. I remember in kindergarten when we got to share what we all wanted to be, everyone had the usual things – doctor, fireman, teacher, etc. I said paleontologist and my teacher didn’t even know how to spell it!

13. Grapes or raisins?

Grapes. Raisins are fine, just keep them out of my cookies!

14. What do you wish people knew about being a pastor?

I didn’t get to be a pastor because I was some sort of “super Christian.” I still have the same struggles that I’ve always had. There are times when I don’t get around to reading my Bible for my own personal devotions (apart from sermon or Bible study prep, obviously). There are days when I forget to or just don’t feel like praying. Pastors often get referred to as the shepherd of their flock, but sometimes I feel more like just the lead sheep than the shepherd.

15. What do you wish for Journey of Faith in the future?

My wish for Journey is that the people continue to be about reaching those who don’t know Jesus and don’t fall into the rut of just being like any other church out there. Don’t get comfortable and make it about you – keep it about those who aren’t here yet and help them get to know Jesus!