Taking the Next Steps

Jeremy Jernigan – Executive Pastor

This upcoming May will be my twelfth anniversary of being on staff at Central. It has been an unbelievable journey for me and my family. When I started on staff I was finishing up my undergrad degree and was about to get married. I began as a fifteen-month intern and had no idea how long I’d be here on staff. Now we have five kids and we’ve been married more than eleven years. And now we also feel God is leading us to a new opportunity for the next season of ministry.

I realize this likely comes as a shock to many of you. I know it did to me. Yet I’ve felt God moving in my heart and it has been repeatedly confirmed in Michelle as well. We sense God nudging us away from the safety of what we know and love in order to experience a new chapter in our lives. And here’s the crazy part… we don’t know where that is yet!

Since I know some will wonder, there’s no scandal or conspiracy at Central. I’m not disgruntled, bitter, or frustrated. I’m not being asked to leave or forced out. I will continue leading in my role on staff until we figure out next steps and have a better picture of what this next season will look like. I feel phenomenally blessed and grateful for my time at Central and for the people who have poured into me during this time. I have stood on some amazing shoulders and the view this gave me propelled me to develop much quicker than might have happened elsewhere. I grew up in this church as a kid and then my career had the chance to do the same. This will always feel like home.

As I continually seek God’s Spirit and how to faithfully follow Him, I’ve come to the realization that it’s time for me to pursue an opportunity as a Lead Pastor somewhere. This will allow me to faithfully steward the gifts God has given me and to continue to walk where I sense Him leading me. This will likely mean we’ll be moving out of the state as well. While we haven’t brought our kids into this conversation yet (until we have next steps to tell them), Michelle is in complete agreement and has felt the same confirmation.

The excitement of the next journey will only come after much sadness. I have loved and cherished the opportunity to lead the Creative Arts and Family Teams at Central. They are remarkable leaders who serve in ways that humble and inspire me. I know they are in good hands with the leaders who will step up after me. Michelle and I have lived within close driving distance to all of our immediate family. We have built lifelong friendships with people in this community. I have not seen many churches as amazing as Central and have thoroughly loved all that this church is about. There will be many goodbyes in the months to come and part of why we feel we should share this news now is to allow us time not to feel rushed as we close out this chapter.

For those of you at Central, you’ll still see me preach into this summer (at a minimum) and I’m hoping to come back to preach from time to time even after we move. We have far more questions than we do answers, but we’d like to invite you into this process with us. While my journey is not remotely as significant as Abraham’s, I’m relating to what God said to him in new ways. “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1). Indeed, this is the journey God calls each of us to in our own ways. It begins when we hear Him and take that first step in whatever direction He points. Michelle and I would cherish your prayers and support during this time as we continue to ask God to give us clarity on what’s next.

Here’s to taking the first step.

Taking the Next Steps

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