“The people business,” my pastor dad used to say, “ is a tough business.”  

This, dear reader, is true.

Time was when the preacher was expected to:

preach on Sunday,



dedicate babies,



serve communion,

and make sure the church building was tidy.

So quaint.

The 21st century pastor must now be equipped to administrate and mediate, and provide counseling for an ever-lengthening list of personal, familial, and social ills.

He should be up to speed on the latest pre-marital and post-marital materials . . .

. . . youth, financial stewardship, and conflict resolution materials  . . .

. . . all the while keeping up with Facebook, Twitter, and the most dynamic blogs and websites.

Ideally, he has a meticulous Evernote filing system for current articles on church trends, social issues, and the latest in the Christian/culture/technology nexus.

He must be able to manage a staff with consummate skill. And I do mean consummate.

Clear positions should be staked out on the latest debates like, for instance, the recent what-exactly-is-hell-and-who’s-actually-going-there thing.

He ought to know what’s trending across all sectors.

And it might help to look hip, act hip, and be hip – at least to some degree.

This is the Short List.

This past Sunday, my husband, Sam, transitioned from 21 years of pastoring to the position of Elder Pastor.

He is a man whose pastoral training was on-the-job.

He loved the Bible, studied the Bible, preached the Bible.

He loved the people he pastored, deeply.

He shepherded his flock through a devastating church fire, and the harrowing and all-consuming work of rebuilding.

If there was physical work to be done, of any sort, anywhere, on the church premises, he was sure to be in the middle of it. (He can, and I do not exaggerate, fix anything.)

Somehow, he, and the Board of Trustees stewarded the church finances in such a way that the entire property is now debt free. This, in Sonoma County, CA.

He raised children who love the church they grew up in and have none of the resentment that is too often the legacy of pastor’s kids.

He did the work of the ministry led by the Holy Spirit.

He did the work of the ministry with a large and generous heart.

He did the work of the ministry with no motive other than obedience to God’s calling.

Two years ago, sensing that our primary work was drawing to a close, we approached our son, Nicolas, and his wife, Dana, about beginning the process of transition. Spiritually astute, culturally savvy, and with an obvious pastoral calling on his life, Nicolas has been our Associate Pastor for the past 2 years.

He and Dana have already made many innovative changes in our church.

The people love them.

We knew it was time to turn the church over to 21st century vision and vigor.

This past Sunday, Christ Tabernacle unanimously voted them in as Lead Pastor.

My husband’s role will be to provide counsel, mentoring, and spiritual oversight as needed. We can now also give more attention and support to missions projects.

Yes, it is bittersweet.

Yes, there were tears, not of regret or sorrow, but of memories and appreciation and a sense of the passage of time.

That we are able to see a son take this work is a precious thing. We are grateful.

And, by the way, Nicolas has a running start on the aforementioned Short List.

Regarding the hip factor, our millennial kids have sweetly – and firmly – intervened in their dad’s wardrobe.  He now owns jeans and shirts from stores he didn’t know existed.

So, make no mistake, he will be the Elder Pastor who will make transition look hip.

And trending.

If you are in a season of transition, what does it look like for you?



6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Erin on July 20, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Tearfully smiling…. I just love to hear about your family’s love for each other, for God and His church. I am so happy for you all:)


  2. How Beautiful Sister Deb! Love the testimony of your faithful service to Christ over the years. Blessings to you and yours as you continue on to the next phase of the journey and all that the Lord has in store for you! Absolutely Wonderful!


  3. Beautiful, and true. All of it. There never was or will be a man with a heart for people like Pastor Sam. The truest and best of Shepherds, with his wife so astute at teaching, and giving that same kind of open hearted love. Jason and I call ourselves blessed for stumbling into Christ Tabernacle nearly 14 years ago now…. where we were met with open arms, acceptance of where we were, and a passion to help us find God, and move forward. Countless others have experienced this same treatment. Praises be to God for a legacy of faith, and devotion in the Celovsky family.


  4. Thank you both for guiding my daughter, Willow, and her family. I know you have been a huge part of their lives…and I am grateful.


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