We've got some news.
Here's everything you need to know about the Lead Pastor transition.
During this season, we are committed to leading with transparency and that is why this page exists. We will frequently update this page with details about potential candidates, important events, and what you can expect on Sundays. If you have any questions, check out the FAQs and use the form below.
We've got some great guest teachers lined up.
From the Board and Joel
Nearly seven years ago, Pastor Joel followed God’s calling to lead our church while we were in the midst of a challenging season. Since then, Joel has been deeply committed to leading and loving the people of Mission Community Church. We are grateful for the impact Joel has had during his time here, and we honor him for his service. While we will miss Joel and the Thomas family, we are excited to see how God will continue to use them to accomplish His purposes. We offer our blessing to Joel, Jenn, and their four children as they transition back to their hometown of Atlanta.
We recognize that periods of transition can bring about a multitude of questions, so we wanted to provide you with some information regarding this next season for our church. Simply said: We have faith in God’s plans for the future of Mission. We believe he has placed us in Gilbert to uniquely impact our community by generously loving those around us and helping people—broken people like each of us—experience the transforming power of Jesus Christ. We humbly look to Him to guide us during this season and acknowledge our dependence upon Him. We ask that you join us in praying for our church as we follow Christ’s teaching: “If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me, you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
MISSION is in a healthy place today. We have an amazing staff that will continue to be led by our Executive Pastor, Kevin Rhineheimer, during this transition. We are blessed to have a gifted communicator in Steve Carter, and he will continue to be a significant presence on the weekends in addition to some other familiar faces. Financially, our income has been stable over the past three years. Even after the challenges brought on by COVID, we will begin this fiscal year (August) in a better financial position than the last. For these reasons, we are confident in a smooth transition to a new lead pastor. We will provide more in-depth information at our in-person annual meeting in August, which we encourage all members to attend (details to follow).
The Board has already begun to implement a succession plan, which it had previously developed for a time such as this. One of the core values of our Board is stewardship, and we are devoted to handling the responsibility of identifying a new pastor with great care. While the exact timeline for identifying our next pastor is fluid, we believe over the next couple of months God will provide us greater visibility into His plan and timing. Throughout this process, the Board is committed to being transparent and accessible and will communicate relevant information in a timely manner. If you have questions, please reach out at the contact information below.
You might be wondering how you can help in this season. First, as mentioned before, please pray for the body and leadership of MISSION. Second, consider another one of Jesus’ commands from the same chapter in John 15: “Love each other as I have loved you.” Lean in to our church body. Lean in to your community groups. Lean in to the areas in which you serve. Lean in by joining one of the many amazing offerings outside of Sunday morning. If you are new to MISSION, lean in by continuing to join us on the weekends; your presence is energizing to those who serve.
In closing, we share an often-quoted verse to focus us all through this season:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
We place our trust in God alone, and are excited to see what He has in store for MISSION.
Board of Servant Leaders
To our MISSION Family,
I have an announcement that I assure you was as much of a surprise for us as it may be for you. In the most unexpected way and at the most unexpected time, God made it clear to my family and me that He is leading us back to Atlanta in this upcoming season, where we are needed to play a role He has uniquely gifted and prepared us for at the church where Jenn and I first met and served in collectively for 26+ years.
To be truthful, there were many days early on when things were really challenging here and we wanted to go back "home." But that is not this season. In fact, the longer we’ve been here, the more Arizona has become "home" and the more we have thought we'd never leave. To be clear, there are no problems. In fact, we are in one of the sweetest seasons of life and ministry we've ever experienced. The team here at MISSION is amazing. We've developed deep, forever friendships with our staff, board, and many of you. We're in the greatest small group we've ever been a part of in our lives. Our kids are thriving in school, sports, and dance. They each have amazing small group leaders, and my two oldest can't wait to get here to serve every week. That is everything to us! We LOVE this church. We LOVE you! But this is, again for us, a step of obedience to follow God whenever and wherever He leads.
We are so grateful for the 6½ years that we've had the privilege of serving alongside the elders, staff, and volunteers at MISSION. It has stretched our leadership, expanded our faith, and further deepened our love for the local church. In so many ways, we feel like we have received more than we were able to give—but that is because of who you are. So many of you gave your time, trust, kindness, and love to us over and over. We will never be able to repay you, but please know we are so grateful.
You may be wondering, "What’s next?" The good news is that there are guidelines that were developed in the aftermath of a much more difficult transition MISSION went through prior to my coming. Those led to a detailed plan the board, our executive-level staff, and I collaborated on over the course of this past week. At a high level, the plan is this: (1) Kevin Rhineheimer, Executive Pastor of Operations, will become the single point of contact for the board and ensure that effective ministry continues until a new lead pastor is identified. (2) Steve Carter has agreed to lean in more on the weekends after my absence, and he and Kevin will collaborate to make sure that every weekend involves good, solid, engaging Biblical teaching. (3) The board will focus its efforts on engaging in an expeditious process of identifying MISSION’s next lead pastor. I want you to know that I have all the confidence in the world in this plan AND in Kevin, Steve, and our staff and board to execute this plan to help MISSION not only transition well but continue to reach, engage, love, and lead people to thriving life in Jesus throughout this transition.
I'm excited that I will be around preaching every weekend from now until August 22, which will be my last weekend. I hope between now and then to have the opportunity to say goodbye and thank you to every single one of you for allowing me to serve as your pastor for the past 6½ years. So look for me in the lobby or in the courtyard. I’m really looking forward to connecting with you all before we leave.
You've probably got some questions.
The Board of Servant Leaders has appointed current Executive Pastor Kevin Rhineheimer to fill the role of Interim Lead Pastor during this time. The Board is in charge of leading the church through the search for a new Lead Pastor and Kevin will be leading the church and staff during this time.
Your prayers are needed during this time for wisdom for the board and staff. Right now is also a great time to lean into community and serving if you haven’t already. In the near future there will be other possible ways to help. Stay tuned.
Every other week, the leadership of the church will have some sort of update about the Lead Pastor search or other growth developments at MISSION.
For now, the vision and mission of our church remain the same: to be a community of people being transformed by Jesus who generously love our neighbors and the next generation.
Steve Carter is a close friend of MISSION and a key part of our teaching team. If he becomes a candidate for the Lead Pastor position, you will hear that information here first. For now, Steve has committed to teaching as much as he can and helping us find great speakers to feature on Sunday mornings.
There’s no back channel deals, no grassy knoll, and no other story to tell here. We love Joel, we are excited to have him for the next 5 weeks, and we can’t wait to see how God is going to use him in Atlanta. The staff and leadership at MISSION are also very excited and hopeful for what the future holds. Feel free to reach out using the form below if you have any questions or need any rumors debunked.
Change and turnover are normal parts of healthy, growing organizations. Joel’s transition is in no way related to any previous staffing changes.
Great question! The Board of Servant Leaders have already begun drafting a plan for finding our next Lead Pastor. As that plan becomes more clear, we will update this page regularly with a timeline and candidate information so be sure to bookmark it!
After prayerful consideration, Joel has accepted an invitation to return to the Atlanta area to serve at the church where Jenn and Joel met and have worked for collectively 26+ years. They feel like they are gifted to help navigate and lead through both short-term and long-term challenges. They want to always be faithful and follow the Lord wherever and whenever He leads them and that is what they are doing in responding to this call.
Joel’s last day at MISSION will be August 22, 2021. He will be teaching each Sunday up until that date.
The kids are all going to be starting new schools and making new friends in the next few weeks so they will need all the prayer they can get. Prayer for Jenn and Joel and the transition to the new ministry are also much appreciated.
First off, PRAY. The kids are all going to be starting new schools and making new friends in the next few weeks so they will need all the prayer they can get. Prayer for Jenn and Joel and the transition to the new ministry are also much appreciated. If you would like to reach out to Joel to send him an encouraging message, you can use the form below or contact him via Instagram or Facebook.
They are moving back to the Atlanta area to serve in the organization he previously worked in, North Point Ministries.
Where do we go from here?
Joel at MISSION
Joel's last day
Steve and teaching team
Beyond Aug 22
Lead Pastor search w/ regular updates
Beyond Aug 22
I've still got some questions.
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