One thing I always ask my middle school kids at Antioch each week is “What’s your next step?”
It’s a call for them to recognize that God never wants us to stall out in our journey as a Jesus-follower and that we have to be willing to step through the door of what God is calling us to do.
A Wind of Change
Over five years ago while in the wonderful town of Prescott, Arkansas, I told my wife that I sensed God was going to do a new thing in our lives soon. We didn’t want to leave our town or our church, but we knew God was at work. I wasn’t sure what that was or when it would happen, but God was getting ready to move us to the next part of our journey.
A few months later, God showed me what that next step was for us.
I still remember the warm Spring day when Shawn Hammontree called me out of the blue and asked me to come for an interview to be the next student pastor at Antioch Conway. After a few interviews and some organizational changes at Antioch Conway that included splitting the student pastor position into middle school pastor and high school pastor, I was hired on to become the first middle school pastor at Antioch Conway.
Leaving Prescott was painful. I know for a fact that I totally lost it on stage when I told Central Prescott that God was moving me away from them. The ministry was booming, I loved the people, and the pastor, Perry Johnson, was the best mentor I have ever known.
But I knew that there’s no such thing as pausing God’s Plan – there’s only obedience or disobedience.
A Wonderful Season of Ministry
Over the past nearly five years, I have loved serving at Antioch Conway. The people are great, the staff is amazing, and I have been pushed to grow and learn like never before.
Working with the kids and adult leaders through ASM Middle School has been phenomenal. As we have worked hard to attract and disciple young students, God has blessed the ministry to preteens to the point that our room was maxed out with students numbering in the triple digits. We saw many kids accept Christ and many more make life-changing decisions to actually live out their faith in big ways.
I had the wonderful privilege of mentoring three young men who want to do student ministry in this season of their life – two of which are currently serving here in Arkansas. I also had the privilege of serving alongside Bobby Tucker, associate pastor, in leading Antioch Conway’s Bethlehem Revisited experience the last few years that saw thousands of people interact with the Good News of Jesus’ birth each year.
With the people of Antioch Conway, we celebrated the birth of our son, Luke, and have lean on so many wonderful people here as we have raised him over the last seven months.
A Bend in the Road
Though things have never been better at Antioch Conway, I began feeling the same bend-in-the-road feeling a little more than a year ago that preceded our move to here.
Though everything in our life was the way we wanted it – an amazing church, the house of our dreams in a city we love, a wonderful job for us both, and close friends here – we knew that change was on the horizon.
After much prayer, searching, seeking wisdom, and sleepless nights, we decided to follow God’s call on our lives to join with Andy and Erin Comer and the rest of the Antioch Georgetown (Texas) launch team this summer and help plant the church that began as a vision of Jason Aultman, lead pastor at Antioch Conway, many years ago.
Though this change will by far be the most grueling transition we have ever made, we knew that there’s no such thing as pausing God’s Plan – there’s only obedience or disobedience.
That’s why I’m announcing that the next step for Ashley and me will relocate to Georgetown, Texas (a northern suburb of Austin) this summer and help the new church plant take root and thrive.
What Does This Mean?
As a part of following God in this new season of life, I will be leaving the staff of Antioch Conway and will go to work in the Georgetown-area and will be a non-paid (volunteer) leader for Antioch Georgetown (a tentmaker).
As for Antioch Conway, she will be better than ever. With amazing people and great leaders, there’s no limit to what God will do in and through this church. Because I believe that God always has a plan up His sovereign sleeve, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the next middle school pastor for Antioch Conway is already sensing his own bend-in-the-road feeling as God prepares him for his next assignment.
Thank You, Antioch
The past five years have been a blast and I’ve gotten to experience God do some great things here at Antioch Conway.
To all the people who have supported me and the middle school ministry – thank you, your love means more than you know. You’re the best.
To all the parents who I have had the pleasure of partnering with – I am, and will forever be, in your corner as you raise your kids to love and serve God. Don’t give up.
To all the kids that I have loved on, laughed with, and influenced – you make my heart happy and I am so thankful to have devoted my life to you. Continue following Jesus.
To the ASM leaders who served each week with me – you are the greatest team I have ever worked with and I owe so much to you. It’s been fun, hasn’t it?
To the great staff at Antioch Conway – your wisdom makes me sharper, your passion for ministry makes me stronger, and your friendship has made me smile. Thank you for investing in me.
To Jason and Shawn – thank you for giving a nobody like me a chance to make a difference here in Faulkner County for the Kingdom. It’s been a great journey.