Seventeen years ago I made a commitment to God. While sitting in a jail cell late at night I said: "God if you're real get me out of here and I'll do whatever you want." It was a Hail Mary, a last chance effort. Never did I imagine that commitment would involve being a pastor!
For the last almost 5 years I've had the privilege of serving at Central Peninsula Church. In 2012 we moved our family to the Bay Area to follow the call of Christ. It's been a great learning experience that added to the decade of pastoral experience I came here with.
When we moved here I was 32 and had mainly served with students. It was a big step for our family to move here. God has given me the joy of leading a team of leaders to impact our region. CPC has entrusted me to lead a staff team of people. Our Elders have worked with me to hone my preaching style and grow in communicating to adults. For a few years I was able lead the charge for the Global Leadership Summit here. There was a season of serving as our children's champion and helping create consistency on all three of our campuses. Mark invited me to travel with him to Rwanda and Cambodia. In addition to that, I've had the awesome opportunity to lead our Young Adults ministry.
When we moved here our kids had never been to school. Sophie was three and Leah was two. They both had their first day of preschool while living here. They both started Elementary school here. They both learned to ride bikes here. We also added Isaiah to our family. They all started snowboarding in Tahoe while living here. What a gift it's been to live here.
About six months ago my mentor called me and said: "Neal, I know a church in Ventura that would be a great fit for you. They're going to be looking for a new pastor soon." He knew I had been open to a new call on my life. So I began processing with my pastor and elders. I sought wisdom from my mentor and a close group of friends.
After a few interviews with the search team in Ventura they unanimously recommended me to the elders at this church. I met with the elders and they unanimously recommended me to the church. After a weekend visit I was offered the role when the church voted to call me as the Senior Pastor with a 98% affirmation!
A few weeks ago I enthusiastically accepted the call to serve at Coastline Bible Church in Ventura. This is a bittersweet decision. Charity and I are going to miss our Bay Area friends who have become family. But we're thrilled to follow God on this new adventure.
Our heart has always been for God to move us closer to family. In recent months my parents have had some health issues so this is great timing. This move puts us much closer to family and brings us back to our So Cal roots. The role is a Senior Pastor. I've always had a sense that one day God would call me to lead a church (I can share more on this one day). I'm stoked for this opportunity to lead Coastline in this next season.
My role will wrap up here at CPC on June 11. I invite you to come hear my last sermon. Later that day our church is throwing a party to celebrate what God has done here. Our daughters will finish school up here and then we'll move to Ventura.
Keep your eyes out as the next post here I will share three ways you can pray for CPC, the Benson family and Coastline in the upcoming weeks.