Rick Bundschuh has been involved in ministry work more than four decades.
There is no hesitation when the pastor at Kauai Christian Fellowship is asked why he has been in ministry since he was 21 years old. There is no doubt in his answer.
”I get the privilege of seeing lives change. That’s the bottom line,” he said. “Watching the transformation of people’s lives. I get to see marriages restored. I get to see people all of a sudden get a sense of meaning and purpose in their life. I get to be a participant in probably the most exciting things I’ve every been involved in.”
And he’s been involved in a lot.
The husband and father of four is an author of more than 40 books, most about Christian life, including one that was a New York Times best seller. He’s a cartoonist and nearly went into that for a career. And he’s a surfer. He has been since his California beach days and he still loves riding the morning waves when a south swell rolls in.
It is his passion for being a pastor, sharing God’s word, that guides his steps.
As a teaching pastor at Kauai Christian Fellowship, where 400 to 500 attend Sunday services (He’ll be giving the Easter Sunday sermon with Pastor Dain Spore.), he’s part of what he likens to being on a Navy Seal team.
”Everybody has a specialty,” he said.
His includes sharing the Bible in a way people can connect to and understand.
”One of the main things I do is figure out how to communicate God’s truth to people on numerous levels,” he said.
In time for Easter Sunday, Bundschuh sat down with The Garden Island this week to chat about Christianity, faith and a little surfing, too.
The Garden Island: Is the Easter sermon ready?
Rick Bundschuh: I split the sermon with Dain Spore. He’s going to talk about the price paid, and I’m going to talk about the Resurrection.
TGI: How important is the Resurrection for Christians?
RB: What I’m talking about is the pivotal point of Christianity. The resurrection is the pivotal point of Christianity. If the Resurrection didn’t take place, then Christianity just collapses. It’s just another feel-good religion about a nice dead guy. It is the thing that separates Christianity from everything else. Without the Resurrection, Jesus was just a man who died, another martyr. With the resurrection, everything comes into focus. This is the center point of Christianity. Everything resolves around that.
TGI: So Easter Sunday is an exciting day?
RB: When you beat death, that’s about as good as it gets. And by beating death, he promises that we’ll beat death, too. Christians don’t think we die. We just walk through a doorway.
TGI: What do you say to people who say they don’t believe in the Bible, Jesus or God? Do you try to convince them?
RB: If somebody is hostile to Christianity and closed, I say, ‘God bless you.’ If you ever have any questions, I’m here for you. It doesn’t insult me, because I was quite hostile to Christianity as a young, teenage boy. Anybody who was a Christian, I thought they were a nut case. Frankly, that hostility is generally because you’re running from something. And you’re got things you don’t really want to come out on the table. It’s more ambivalent people. Because today, for a lot of people, it’s not that they’re hostile. They can amuse themselves so they never have to think about God. I feel more for those people who keep themselves busy with work or hobbies. When those amusements no longer work, when the business is just business and the meaning has gone out of it, and there’s a desert and dryness in the heart, then those people are usually ready to talk.
TGI: People say Christians are intolerant, narrow and judgmental. Is Christianity under fire today?
RB: I follow a pretty narrow teacher. He said enter through the narrow gate. The way that’s wide, there are all kinds of people on it. The narrow way, there are very few people on that way that’s going to lead to ever-lasting life. To answer your question, sure. Christianity is on the chopping block as far as the media and the liberal elite and those kind of guys are concerned. They want to take the most comedic form of Christianity, and there’s some comedic forms of Christianity, dumb stuff people do and say, and hold it up as normative of who Christians are, pretend like Christians aren’t capable of deep thinking or complex thought.
TGI: So what do you say to people who are skeptical of the Christian faith?
RB: What I say to people is this: You know what? We are completely open as a Christian community. We don’t care who you are or what you’ve done. You are welcome to come, but understand this, you come as you are, but don’t plan as staying as you are, because if you step into real genuine Christianity, transformation starts.
If we think we can enter Christianity and just be what we are, we have another thing coming. The whole name of the game is transformation. So, we take anybody like they are, but we warn them, don’t expect to stay like you are. He loves you so much, he’ll take you as you are, but boy, he’s going to remodel you.
TGI: As a pastor, what do you see as your most important role?
RB: The way we do it at Kauai Christian Fellowship. God has designed us and given us different talents, which sort of dictate our primary role in the leadership we have. One of my primary roles is to be the visionary for the church, to be the guy that’s sort of looking around the corner to see where we need to be as far as meeting people needs. That’s why we’re building a sports center. That’s why we do all kind of stuff to connect with the community.
Part of my job is to make sure that we’re not an isolated bubble, but that we’re woven into the community, so that when Halloween comes, we’re not hiding at home with the lights off. Instead, we’re the guys on the corner cooking hot dogs for anybody who walks by or giving out candy bars, because we want to be involved in the life of the community.
We’re building a sports center because we think there’s a need for that on the island and we want to make friends with our neighbors and invite them to come play sports. We think by rubbing shoulders with people who are believers, the realm of God will rub off on them.
TGI: How does your faith influence your daily living?
RB: I take Christ into everything I do, to be a Christian in everything I do, in everything I say. That’s the goal. I’m not always successful. Sometimes I’m a miserable failure and I feel really bad if I blow it.
TGI: Do you find time for surfing and still love it as much as ever?
RB: I was raised at the beach, raised on the ocean. It’s hard to imagine not having that in my lifestyle. It’s a gift God’s given me to be able to be in the ocean. I’ll enjoy it as long as he continues to give me the ability to do that.
TGI: How do you keep your other interests from becoming focal points ahead of the ministry?
RB: Those things don’t matter a wit to the privilege of being in some way or another to help usher somebody into a better relationship with God or a first-time relationship with God or just move the ball down the field for them a little bit. All of a sudden, they see God in a bigger way. I get up every morning fired up because I get to be part of things that last forever.
TGI: How would someone learn about Christianity? Where should they start?
RB: Read the Bible. Download The Message online. Start with the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I’d start there and see who this Jesus guy was, what he did and see what he said, see if that resonates with you. I’m sure that they probably know legit Christians who are seeking a relationship with Christ and have a life that resonates that way as well and start talking to them.
TGI: You’re hiring a full-time storyteller at Kauai Christian Fellowship. What will that person be doing?
RB: He’s going to tell the stories of the people of the church, tell the stories of what God is doing in people’s lives, in this community. We’ve got people with great stories that need to be told. It’s a way to tell our story to show we’re real, genuine people who lead interesting and diverse lives but also have a deep faith in Christ.
We’re growing with different ministry ideas. It’s really fun to be part of that.”
TGI: If you could share one thing about Christianity, what would it be?
RB: It’s important for people to understand about the Christian faith, you don’t need to park your brain to be a person of faith. There isn’t a conflict between intelligence, science and faith. They are mutually compatible, contrary to a lot of the propaganda that you hear. God says in scripture, come, let us reason together. We don’t throw our reason under the bus. We don’t just become puppets and let some guy pull the strings.
TGI: Anything else?
RB: I think that every person, deep down inside of them, senses the magnetism of God pulling them. You can drown him out with your earbuds and you can drown him out with your screens, you can drown him out going here or going there. There are those times when you feel him pulling you and where you sense that he wants you. I would just say, listen, don’t push that way. Move toward it. Let him take you. Our hearts are restless until they find peace with him.