A Change of Seasons: A Pastoral and Personal Update

Photo: The steeple of Community Evangelical Free Church, the church I’ve been a pastor at for the last five years.

Photo: The steeple of Community Evangelical Free Church, the church I’ve been a pastor at for the last five years.

When I was a junior in college, a local youth group hosted a city-wide “service day” with other local youth groups. After the day of service, everyone gathered that night for worship and preaching. The youth group hosting the event had asked me to preach. I did. I only remember a few details from that sermon, but my main memory comes from what happened after the preaching.

My wife, Brooke, was my girlfriend at the time. After the worship service was over, Brooke and I went out for ice cream at McDonald’s with one of the pastors and his wife. As I ate my McFlurry and we talked about our lives, the pastor who heard me preach encouraged me to consider going to seminary after college.

That was sixteen years ago, and the couple who went out for ice cream with us was Jason and Natalie Abbott. As we sat at McDonald’s that night, I could have had no idea that I’d spend the last five years pastoring with Jason at Community Evangelical Free Church.

A Church Announcement

I told this story to our church a few weeks ago before my sermon. I shared it because the story gives more context to what it meant to me a few months ago when Jason first told me he was likely going to be taking a position at another church in the summer. Jason pastored faithfully at our church for seven years, and it was a joy to share five of those years with him. For the better, his preaching and pastoring shaped our lives in both obvious and subtle ways; that’s what faithful pastoring does.

Before I go on, let me acknowledge that I don’t presume most people out there on the world wide web want or need an update about one individual church in the middle of Pennsylvania. Most people don’t need this update. But a few people—people who know me and our church—might like to know about the changes.

What Does This Change Mean Practically?

As we go forward, it’s my hope and the hope of our pastor-elders that as the senior pastor I will anchor the preaching ministry of our church, which for now will mean preaching around 3 times a month or 36 times a year.

I’m not sure I know all the ways the change at church will affect the writing that I do in the mornings. For now I’ll just say that it’s been difficult to do anything except what feels like the most pressing ministry item in front of me. Few books are being read and few writing projects are being pursued as squeaky wheels keep getting all the grease.

The other major change is the promotion of our director of youth and music ministry to the role of associate pastor. He’s been here for several years and done a fantastic job. I’m excited to see him do more preaching.

We are also going to be hiring another associate pastor. We’re still working out the details, but likely the role will be a connections pastor, that is, someone who helps shepherd us into the kind of meaningful relationships that God calls his people to have with each other.

Please Say a Prayer for Us

As I wrote above, I don’t want to presume that people want to know what is happening in our little church in the middle of Pennsylvania. But a few of you might like to know. If you’re one of those people who made it to the end of this post, please say a quick prayer for me and our church. It would mean a lot to me.