University Lutheran Church in West Lafayette, Indiana (the LCMS-U campus outreach to Purdue University) recently called Rev. Jared DeBlieck as our new Associate Pastor. In spite of his busy schedule, Pastor DeBlieck took some time to answer our questions about his life, his call to the ministry, and what makes him tick. We can’t wait to welcome him to ULu in June!
When did you first realize you wanted to be a Pastor?
I grew up in another Lutheran church body whose theological confession seemed to change as I grew older. That, or perhaps it was because I began to care more deeply about what is true, that when I was a junior in high school my family left that denomination for the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. It was during my adult catechesis as a teenager that I began to see the immense importance of a faithful confession of the Gospel. I wanted to contribute back to the LCMS by becoming a Lutheran high school teacher in the field of history. So, I went off to college at Concordia University Wisconsin thinking that maybe I would one day go to seminary after I had taught some first. But what I found was that while my education and history classes were satisfying, my love for theology unexpectedly flourished. I knew pretty soon into my college years that afterward it would be the seminary for me. And it was!
What especially interests you about Campus Ministry?
My college years were especially formative outside the classroom. I was someone who hadn't been in the LCMS for very long and I wanted to grow in not only the faith, but the friendship of others who were likeminded. Sometimes students go off to college seeking or entering into friendships of people who are not likeminded--which is totally fine but those friendships change you. Period. Part of the joy of college is meeting new people who are unlike you, but if that's to the detriment of your faith in Christ that's not a truly good friendship. What I learned to love about campus ministry is that the Gospel is for all and the greatest friendships were with those who confessed Christ with me, and the greatest friendships were also those who, even if they disagreed with me, were willing to listen to what the Gospel is for them. I love campus ministry because it is for all people because Jesus loves all people. I love fueling the drive of young adults and fulfilling their curiosity, and I get to do that by sharing Christ with them. That's an honor.
What excites you most about coming to a large college campus like Purdue?
Full-time campus ministry as the mission of ULu is exciting in itself. Purdue is a large campus, and that will take some getting used to, but it also means more to reach with the Gospel of Christ crucified and risen! I think with that in mind I'm excited to get to know everyone involved with the Purdue campus ministry: students, community members, staff, and of course my new colleague, Pastor Herman. I'm excited to have my family meet and grow and rejoice with the people and families of ULu!
What do you want the students and congregation at ULu to know about you?
I think it's important to know me by getting to know me in person, so I hope you will take advantage of my invitation to do that! I value personal interaction, group and one-on-one conversation. I'm a reflective individual and pastor. I like to engage but I also believe in taking the time to contemplate. I love to encourage but I'm not afraid to speak plainly. I'd like to believe that nearly nine years of marriage and five years of pastoral ministry has shaped me into the kind of person and pastor students and the congregation of ULu can count on. That said, I think it is always a good reminder that many pastors are family-men who love it when their congregation values that about them. And, I think it’s good to know that I'm a repenting sinner just like all of you are, and that I pray to always be faithful to God's Calling as one of your pastors. Finally, I believe it is important to know how much I already love you as one of your pastors, that I'm praying for you, and that I'm very much looking forward to the ministry and mission of our church.
What are you currently reading/watching/interested in?
Well, right now I've been reading a lot of paperwork for the sale of our home in Illinois and the purchase of our new home in Indiana. Boring! Outside of Scripture I've not been reading much with everything that goes into the repair of the old and preparation to buy a new home. It has taken most of my time lately. However, I'm a huge YouTube channel subscriber of everything; theology, apologetics, history, news outlets, fitness, pop culture, and a ton of random stuff, too. I love to learn about almost everything. Most of my reading is nonfiction and because I'm doing postgraduate studies, a lot of that kind of reading is research for my Masters of Theology. In the near future, I'd like to devote some leisure reading to C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy and similar fictional works that have theological undertones or implications.
I noticed you won an award for one of your essays in 2013. Do you still write?
I was one of a few winning essayists in 2013 for a small grant scholarship during my time in seminary. I wrote it on vicarage, and was glad for it to be so well received. I do like to write every once in a while but hope that I can make writing a more consistent habit. I have blogged on and off for years, since by catechesis into the LCMS, but more recently took it to the next level in having my own domain, Rubrica.org. I like to write about theology and in particular as it intersects with our lives and culture at large. For my MTh work I'm mostly narrowed into my specific topic, "The Catechization of Christological Ethics from the Divine Service of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod." Basically, "how does God use the Divine Service, worship, to form us into holy people?" For this venture, I will need to read many books and articles. One I'm especially wanting to read more closely is titled, "Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Ethical Self: Christology, Ethics, and Formation" by CJ Elliston.
Can you share one or two of your most memorable moments in the ministry?
I think an obvious one is Ordination, where a man's ministry in the "office" of pastor begins. You're never the same person after those vows, like after someone gets married or joins the military, or imagine what it will be like when you sign your first contract for the job you've been studying to enter after all these years of college. It's a memorable moment because in an instant it's five years later and you're off to where God wants you next. During my years at Trinity there are many memorable moments that happened in the confidentiality of pastoral care--moments that were foundational for people who meet life's challenges or sins with God's mercy and grace, His Law and Gospel, our Confession and His Holy Absolution, Christ's Word and Sacraments. My most memorable moments came when members, new members, and students told me that I've helped them understand the Gospel and made the difference in their life of faith. I say, to God be the glory!
If you could give your college age self any advice, what would it be?
I suppose if I were to tell myself something then I'd want it to be something that I'd still tell myself today. The best advice is not temporal but eternal. God tells us to not be anxious (Mt 6:25-34), to put it more bluntly, God tells us that worry is a sin. Ouch! It is useless to worry but maybe like you, I still do. I'm very much the same person I was in college, but with much more experience. My experience would tell my former college-aged self to take more seriously the promise of Romans 5:1-2ff. "Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God." So, rejoice in the hope of the glory of God! By grace and through faith you stand in the promise of peace because our Lord Jesus Christ has declared you righteous on account of his death and resurrection, he has Justified you, and Satan has no real power over you. Do not worry, since you are a child of God there is nothing that can separate you from his love, his peace, his promise of everlasting life. Every day I believe God is more and more convincing me of this truth, that at the end of the day--at the end of all days--there is only your Savior Jesus and with him, no anxiety, no worry, and no fret of life that can truly harm you.
Please join us on June 2nd at 4pm for Pastor DeBlieck’s installation. For more information, or to RSVP, please email email@example.com.