On a fairly regular basis, someone inside or outside of Vineyard Columbus will ask me, “How are you doing, Rich? How are you doing with the upcoming transition from your role as Senior Pastor?” My simple answer, in a word, is “Great! I’m doing amazing! I have lots of reasons why I’m doing so well and why I’m so hopeful about my future and the future of Vineyard Columbus.” I want to share a few of these reasons with you.
First, in a very real sense, the leadership of Vineyard Columbus is not changing!
I’ve never considered myself “THE leader” of Vineyard Columbus! Our church was founded on the principle that Jesus Christ is the head of the church and we exist to follow his leadership in the world. The Apostle Peter tells pastors, “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care…when the chief shepherd appears you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away” (1 Peter 5:2, 4). Vineyard pastors, like all pastors, are just undershepherds. We know who the chief shepherd of every Christian church is – Jesus Christ!
Whoever has the title of “Senior Pastor” whether it’s me, or Eric and Julia Pickerill, or a future Senior Pastor, the leadership of Vineyard Columbus (if we remain true to our calling) will never change! We will continue to be a people who exist to follow the leadership of Jesus in our community and our world.
Second, I feel completely ready to release the role of Senior Pastor.
I have felt for the past several years that it’s time for a new generation to lead our church. “David served God’s purpose in his own generation” (Acts 13:36). Marlene and I, as well as other Baby Boomer leaders, have enjoyed the incredible privilege to serve the Lord for many years. But it’s time for the next generation to step up and provide direction for our church. I have increasingly felt that handing off the Senior Pastor role was something that the Lord was asking of me for the past few years. It’s time for new voices and fresh vision at our church!
Third, I’m excited about the things that I’ll get to do for Vineyard Columbus over the next five years.
If I remain healthy, I want to help develop the next generations of leaders. I want to help multiply thoughtful, spiritually deep leaders to serve their generations. We started a residency program in September with The Story Continues money. I have the privilege of leading that program and helping in the development of potential future pastors. In addition, I’m working with our youngest and newest staff pastors to help them with their theological and spiritual development. I will continue to be part of the preaching rotation and continue to evangelize – which I love to do! I’m also engaging with city and national leaders to interject a Christian voice into our community’s and country’s futures. And I’m mentoring pastors around the world.
My plate is very full! Plus I get to give away a lot of responsibilities that I either wasn’t very good at or no longer want to do. What could be better than that?
Fourth, I am completely persuaded that God called Eric and Julia Pickerill to be my successors.
By the grace of God, the Holy Spirit led our church through a wonderful process of choosing our future Senior Pastors! After a lengthy and very deliberate process of choosing my successors, a selection committee made up of our Church Council, our Pastoral Advisory Team and other key stakeholders unanimously chose Eric and Julia for our Senior Pastor role. Watching both of them in action over the past two years has further solidified my conviction that they are God’s choice to lead this church for the next season of our church’s life! I respect their personal devotion and love for Jesus Christ! I respect the way they pastor our staff! I greatly benefit from their preaching! We enjoy an incredibly warm and mutually respectful relationship together. Eric and Julia are the leaders for this hour!
Finally, we have an extraordinary team of pastors and leaders at Vineyard Columbus.
Eric and Julia will not have to shoulder the leadership of this church by themselves! We have an incredible team of leaders, administrators, communications, and technical support folks who are deeply devoted to God and who support the leadership of Eric and Julia. Our staff is fully on board with this transition.
So… in answer to the question, “How are you doing with the imminent release of your role as Senior Pastor?” My answer is, “Great! I’m doing amazing!”