I am honoured and humbled that the board of elders have asked me to take on the role of Interim Senior Pastor in order that our mission and ministry don’t miss a beat while we work together to seek God’s guidance in what a longer term structure looks like for this amazing church.
As I step into this role, I wanted to share a few of my thoughts with you. On a personal level, this news has affected me on a friendship and ministry level. Mark and I met in the first days after he had moved to Vancouver almost 20 years ago. We instantly became friends and began doing young adult ministry together. Our different strengths and styles complemented us well in ministry. At one church business meeting, we were referred to as first and second Timothy! It was only a few short years after Mark planted Village Church that I joined back up with him. Over the last seven and a half years, I have been a part of the staff leadership team and most recently have worked as pastor over all the ministry areas of Village and pastor over our staff. As much as I’ll miss him, I have full confidence that Mark is following God’s call in his life and I will continue to share an important friendship with him.
Over my years at Village Church, I have become an evangelist for the DNA and ethos of what makes Village, “Village.” I’ve championed and developed guides and ministry philosophy in order to better define what makes this great church unique and effective, and helped to ensure that these approaches and principles, such as being gospel-focused, unabashedly biblically-based, excellent and professional in our standards, and urgent in making things happen, are embodied not only by our staff, but all of our leaders, volunteers, and every person who represents Village Church internally and externally to our cities and country. It is from this place that I feel confident to step into the interim role that I have been asked to take on, so that our church planting plans, ministry goals, creative productions, and global and city impact work, all continue to flourish and make an incredible impact.
But at the root of my confidence, optimism is stemming out of three things in particular. First, I am convinced that a biblical view of the church means that we see everything that we do as God’s work and not ours. We do not do the work of evangelism and discipleship and ask God to join us. He is working in the lives of people every day through his Holy Spirit and asks us to participate with him. It is all his work, and that forms the basis of my approach to ministry. Village Church is God’s work. Over a decade ago, he asked Mark and a core launch team to participate in what he wanted to do. Two years ago, he asked us all to shift our thinking and participate in what he was doing in the world through the challenges of the pandemic. Today, it is still his work, his church, and he is asking us to forge a future together to reach our country to see people transformed into fully devoted followers of Jesus. Our job is obedience, he does the work. With that in mind, how can I not have full confidence in what God will do through his church? Of course, there are challenges, of course, this transition will bring change and difficult moments, but none of that is a surprise to God. He is asking us to do this and I have every confidence that he wants to reach and disciple even more people in our country in the next decade than in the last.
Second, I have confidence and optimism rising from the incredible team of staff and elders who collectively lead this church under God. We have painstakingly created great systems to find and develop the very best staff team possible. It is by the grace of God that he has provided Village Church with a staff team 100 strong of the best of the best. This is a huge strength for us going forward. Village Church does not rest on any one person to make it what it is, the leadership is owned at such a high level by each of our many staff. When we face uncertainty and change, it isn’t about trying to find comfort in predicting the future, I think the last two years have taught us that, it’s about who you have with you. And I wouldn’t want any other team with me.
Third, my confidence and optimism comes from YOU. Village Church is a family of people committed to doing whatever it takes to see people transformed by the gospel. A group of people dedicated to serve, to evangelize, to be in community together, to do good in the world, all out of personal sacrifice in obedience to God’s call on our lives. We have seen thousands baptized and have their lives completely turned around because of how you have stepped up to own the mission. We have a saying that we’ve pointed to many times through the years: You Make It Happen! And you have. How could I not be incredibly optimistic when I minister beside the most amazing group of leaders, families, and individuals who make up this incredible church?
My prayer in the next weeks and months is that God will give each of you the same confidence that he has given me. That he would actually propel us as a church to live into the incredible new levels of impact that he has for us and this country. Let me finish with one final thing. I have been asked in the last week what this means for the unique place Village Church has in impacting Canada specifically. I want to be absolutely clear: the passion to see Canada specifically reached with the gospel burns in me and every leader of Village Church. So practically speaking, nothing changes with our push to plant in Toronto, Winnipeg, and Vancouver. Nothing changes in our work to develop partnerships with Canadian organizations and church partners across our country. We exist to see people transformed into fully devoted followers of Jesus together and my prayer is that your passion for that mission will only be emboldened as we go forward together. Over the coming weeks, I will keep you updated about some of the exciting things we are working on and rolling out as we go forward together.
Pastor Jeremy Johnson