Part 1

I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
(Matthew 28:20 NIV)

A toddler wanders off in a room filled with people, joyfully absorbing the smells, sights and sounds. In time he stops and looks around. Where is his mother? Unable to see her, he starts to cry. His mother recognizes her child’s cry and rushes to find him. Once she is in his sight, the toddler stops crying—just knowing she is there assures him he is safe, and he feels brave enough to begin another walk through the room. 

That simple scene reveals an important truth: feelings of worry, abandonment or fear rise and fall in direct correlation to those who are with us. When surrounded by fear and the unknown, anxiety fills our hearts. When in the presence of one who loves us, we experience joy and peace.

You have been chosen to serve on a team whose task is to discover the identity of your next pastor. Congratulations on being so honored but, as you know, there is nothing ordinary or miniscule about this mission. Your work will play a significant role in how the next chapter of your congregation’s life is written. This work has eternal consequences.  It would be natural to experience anxiety, even fear, in your soul.

The apostles were also once chosen to serve on a team with an important task: one of delivering the Gospel throughout the known world (Matthew 28:18-20). After three years of training, Jesus was sending them out on their own. I am thinking that the apostles, who were people just like me and you, may have been honored to have received that “Great Commission.” I’m also thinking that, since they were people like me and you, they were terrified by the assignment. Can’t you hear them offering excuses for bailing out?

But before they could do so the Lord offered a great word, I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Those comforting words came to the apostles shortly after Jesus had already taught them that He would remain with them always through the Holy Spirit who would guide them into all truth (John 16:13). Think about it. The final words they heard before Jesus and the apostles would go their separate ways: I am with you.

While you and your team are not apostles, you are on a mission, one that could terrify you were it not for the presence of Jesus. Know this: as the Lord was with the apostles, so He is with you. And by His grace and mercy you will soon declare “Mission Accomplished.”  

Prayer Prompt: Lord, thank you for being with us as we begin this mission.


ChapterNext is a pastor search and church consulting firm led by Rev. Sam Hamstra. They assist congregations through a handful of services, including staff development, weekend worship workshops, leadership retreats, and ministry reviews (vision and mission statements, budgets, building renovation, and marketing plans). These services grew out of ChapterNexts’ founding purpose which is to help congregations turn the page so that they can begin writing new chapters of dynamic and life-transforming ministry.

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