Margie Smith has seen a few ministers pass through Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in her eight years, but she hopes the most recent one, Zach Hoffman is here to stay.
“He has a great depth of understanding of the scripture,” Smith said. “And then he has humor during his sermons that catches you off guard.”
She said those moments make the entire congregation laugh. But his sermons for children are unparalleled.
“Usually the children’s sermons are what he is going to preach about but on their level, and he always has something hands-on,” she said.
But when you have three kids of your own, preaching to children comes naturally.
Hoffman and his wife, Tracie, have two daughters, 4 and 2. And recently the couple welcomed their third child and first boy, Sammy, into the world April 27.
The pastor and his family moved from Illinois to Georgia in October 2014. After interviewing at the church in August, Hoffman thought the congregation would be a good fit for him and his family.
“It is a laid back, very relaxed congregation, which was really nice,” the pastor said. “We visited the church and had a really good feel from that.”
Hoffman trusts his feelings. He decided to become a preacher after pondering other options his senior year of high school.
“I was considering a teacher, lawyer, opening my own business,” he said. “Mathematician was out and it was pretty evident at that point.”
Praying through the options, Hoffman chose to attend Concordia University Wisconsin and became involved in youth ministry.
“That was basically a big affirmation for me, the whole experience, that this is what I ought to be doing and then I went to seminary,” he said.
Since accepting the post — as the previous pastor accepted a call to work in the library at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis — Hoffman has been taking his time getting to know the congregation and visiting members.
But he has future plans in mind, too.
“We are looking to add a new service, a contemporary service on Sunday nights,” Hoffman said. “We are hoping to get it going by fall.”
Trying to find new ways to share the gospel, the pastor hopes to encourage the church members to engage the community.
“Do something to get into the community and learn what the needs are and learn what the people are saying,” Hoffman said.
At his former congregation, he helped implement a tutoring program.
“It was a program that was completely free,” he said. “We ended up getting grants to fund it and people volunteered to tutor once a week and attend training sessions.”
Hoffman met children with different academic needs, who needed adults to spend time with them. The sessions showed him the kids really enjoyed their program.
“One girl came from a tough family situation,” Hoffman said. “She was one of those students (who) when we began, she came every single week and really enjoyed being there.”
Knowing about some of his previous experiences and actions, Smith is excited with the energy Hoffman brings to the church.
“We were truly blessed with Pastor Hoffman,” Smith said. “We love his family and we are looking forward to great things and growth.”