Alex Falder and Relational Evangelism (Pastor of the Week)
By: Emily Lehner
Alex Falder graduated from Lakeview Christian High School, and although it was a tough decision between Indiana Wesleyan and Taylor University, Falder chose Taylor University. His call to ministry goes back farther than college. Falder’s youth pastor was Charlie Alcock.
Falder said, “My call to ministry was really felt during my senior year of high school- particularly to youth ministry. So, I studied Recreation and Leadership, with a minor in Youth Ministry.” This major focused on using the outdoors to shape one’s faith. Falder planned to pursue camp ministry after college.
During college, Falder worked for Springhill Camps doing wilderness trips. After college, his brother, who worked for Youth for Christ, hired him to begin a Campus Life in Ithaca, Michigan. In this position, Falder encouraged children in the area to join churches.
Following this job, Falder moved to Pittsburgh to work as a youth pastor. “I really grew in a love for the church and ministry in the church. After four years, I came back to get my master’s at Huntington University. This was a time when it became very clear that my talents were meant to be used inside the church.”
After completing his master’s, Falder began his internship at Wabash Friends Church, his home church. Within six months, Falder discovered that the senior pastor at the church was transitioning out. The church leadership believed that he was the one to be the replacement. Falder stated, “I don’t think I was ever planning to be a senior pastor. It just kind of happened.”
As senior pastor, Falder focuses on four main categories of the church. He believes being proactive in every person’s faith walk is of high importance. He said, “A healthy church has 25% quadrants. 25% of your people are exploring Christ, maybe that haven’t even come to know him yet. 25% of the people are coming to know Christ. They’re figuring out who He is. Then, you have 25% who are close to Christ, but they are still figuring out things in life. And then lastly, you have 25% who are all in. They’re serving and devoted to Christ. As a pastor, I am constantly thinking about how I can assist these four groups in moving forward.” Falder said he is always attempting to envision which programs and events and messages will help each group.
As far as reaching out, Falder believes a relationship is the most important and primary step in discipleship. He said, “I really have wrestled with the idea that church is the place where evangelism takes place. Really, it should be just not the staff’s job, but the church’s job to be meeting people where they are at, helping them walk down that road.” Falder spends his days thinking of ways to reach out to the Wabash community and also helping to encourage growth within the congregation members. “We are trying to make the person’s first exposure to Christ relational and not walking through the doors of the church,” he said.
Wabash Friends Church partners with community organizations to pursue this type of relationship with others. Falder said, “The way we look at missions is that we don’t just want to fund it, but we want to have people involved. So, we have people who are going and participating.”
The church focuses heavily on youth. For example, Wabash Friends has a partnership with Kids Hope. Members of the church visit local schools and mentor the elementary students. They currently have approximately 25 mentors. Falder said, “We also have a partnership with Youth for Christ. This is something that has grown in Wabash. Now, all four schools have a Youth for Christ program.” The church also partners with FCA and The Access. “We see these as opportunities to be a part of kids’ lives. We want to walk along them from an early age,” he said.
Falder said that his time spent in college allowed him to see his need for relationship. “I need to have people around me that will sharpen me,” he stated. He puts these insights into practice at Wabash Friends Church and in the surrounding Wabash community, building relationships with all he comes into contact with.
Written by Emily Lehner, a writer for the Alumni Center and a junior Writing major at IWU. She is active on the cross country and track teams. She is passionate about using her writing skills to share the good news of Christ with others.