One of the core values mentioned on the Web site of Living Word Church in West Milford is, Lost people matter to God. He wants them found. Pastor Tim Barnes expanded on that belief.
Jesus was the most relevant person anyone ever met. He had a way of relating to people from all walks of life. He met all types of people right where they were. He seemed to have an especially strong attraction to those who were most broken, he said.
Barnes, 53, a Hewitt resident, is married to Dorothy, the love of my life. The couple has two teenage daughters, Lauren and Becky. Hes been leading the Living Word Church in its own building on Lakeshore Drive for the last four years, prior to that the congregation met in the West Milford High School auditorium.
The pastor did not have a particularly religious upbringing. He was working his way towards a degree in music when, at around age 21, he began to sense a different calling. He felt the pull towards ministry but hadnt narrowed it down quite yet.
I thought a degree in engineering might come in handy for foreign ministry fields, but decided against that after only a very brief stint, Barnes said.
He then turned to hospital work in radiology and physical therapy while building his medical knowledge by taking night classes. He believed such training would at some point be useful serving in under-privileged areas around the world.
During that period, however, it became clearer and clearer to me that I was meant to pursue pastoral ministry. So that is what I did, he said. That was over 30 years ago and Barnes has never looked back.
Before coming to West Milford Barnes served in the Elizabeth/Newark area, where he gained a working knowledge and appreciation of inner-city ministry.
His work included ministering to troubled teens, street gang members and the homeless. He originated a live-in program for gang members who wanted to put that life behind them and start anew.
At Living Word Church the congregants come from varied backgrounds. Some grew up within churches, others have never had a committed faith life. Another core value of the church states, The church should reflect Christs love: through its care and community among those inside the church, and through its care and welcome to those outside the church.
The atmosphere at Living Word Church is laid back and welcoming. No one is asked to pretend to have it all together. We encourage people to be who they are and come as they are, Barnes said.
Living Word Church is a member of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. They are a Christian organization, striving to reach unreached people. They believe that a worship experience should be relevant, authentic and uplifting.
People should come to church and learn practical things about life – real life, Barnes said.
Barnes said he is privileged to serve his church. He spoke of his congregants in glowing terms and referred to them as a team.
Our hope is to help people see the reality of who God is and how much He wants to be involved in our lives. He has done so much for us. None of us are perfect, but we are all growing together, he said. We are down-to-earth people, looking upward to God.
While enjoying every minute of his ministry, even a pastor has to eat. He doesnt spend a lot of time whipping up meals but on occasion hell make this salmon dish with a little help from his daughters.