I’m so excited to have Trevor DeVage here this week. It’s starting to feel real! Trevor is Pantano’s 9th Lead Pastor since we started back in 1962. Yes, that is right, this year we are also celebrating our 60th birthday as a church!
You don’t want to miss this Sunday – in person or online. I’ll be formally passing the baton of pastor, oversight, and leadership of our church over to Trevor. And then, Trevor will deliver his first teaching message to our church.
I had the benefit 15 years ago of having an amazing and smooth transition into becoming the Lead Pastor. Tim Coop, my predecessor, handed me the proverbial baton of leading our church. He was so gracious, supportive, and encouraging of me. I knew Tim had my back, and he set me up to succeed. I am forever grateful for him, his role in my life, and the life of our church. It’s my desire to do the very same for Trevor.
If you haven’t picked it up, I’m thrilled that Trevor is my pastor. I trust him. He has a godly character. I so admire his love for lost people. I’ve seen him loving people to Jesus in action. We share the same basic values and beliefs. He loves how we are a church that cares and invests in our community. Trevor checks off all the boxes that were important to me for whoever would succeed me. And it’s a huge plus that we are friends.
It is an absolute honor to have Trevor DeVage succeed me, and I’ll be sharing a bit more about that on Sunday.
Some of you are wondering what’s next for me. Let me provide a friendly reminder – I’m not leaving. Trevor and I see this as a season of transition from now to June. Trevor and I have been discussing my new job description and plan to have it finalized by April. Trevor and his family will move here in June.
I’ve requested a six-month work sabbatical from June to November 2022. Why? There are two main reasons. First, I will have been leading at Pantano for 24 years (in various roles) by that time. I believe I serve Trevor best by being absent from the office and meetings for a time to ensure that staff and our congregation see Trevor in his new role. I won’t be completely gone from our church. You’ll see me on Sundays, and I’ll get to engage in the things Pantano is doing as a participant. I’ll start my new job description in December 2022. As things become clearer, I’ll share more about what I’ll be doing in my next chapter.
The second reason this Sabbatical is important is that while I’m not tired and for sure I’m not done in ministry, I’ve been serving full-time as a pastor for 45 years. I think I ought to take a little break from work! My wife retires from the UofA at the end of February, and we need to have a little freedom to travel a bit, be grandparents or do a few things we just have not had time to do.
So, for now, I want all of our love, support, attention, and honor to be focused on the man God has brought to Pantano. Trevor will lead us into our next season as we continue to love people to Jesus and launch passionate people to make a difference.
I’m in my 23rd year here at Pantano, and there has never been a new year with so much change and a profound sense of a new beginning. I believe God has timed everything to help us start 2022 fresh and new.
Our remodeled auditorium is almost done. The carpet will be finished this week, and the theater seats will hopefully be installed at the end of January (due to supply chain issues; we have temporary chairs set up)! We are installing the sound, lights, cameras, and video wall this week. We’ve moved the Café back inside. Since holiday break has ended, let’s all reconnect this Sunday as we start a new year and launch a new teaching series!
New Lead Pastor
Pantano has its 9th Lead Pastor – Trevor DeVage. Trevor will be with us the next two Sundays! Trevor and I are in a season of transition from now until the end of May. I’ll continue to lead and teach as the Campus Pastor until Trevor and his family move here in June. Trevor and I will be developing my new job description this spring that will take effect this summer. We’ll officially install Trevor as our new Pastor on Sunday, January 16th, and he’ll be teaching that day.
New Teaching Series
This Sunday (January 9th), we’ll start a new teaching series called Rooted. “Rooted” is our church One Word for 2022. It’s based on Colossians 2:6-7, and I’ll be sharing what it means for us. I’ll also be asking you to prayerfully identify your One Word for the year based on the idea of “rooted.” I really like how Jeremiah uses the rooted metaphor; take a moment to reflect on these verses:
But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8
A New Beginning
Michael Goodwin has been hired as the new Lead Pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church (Alvernon/Pima). He starts on January 10th! I’m so excited to launch Michael to help Emmanuel be a life-giving church in a part of town that so needs Jesus. Our Elders will be ordaining Michael this Sunday, affirming our confidence in his call, character, and gifting. Pantano will continue to partner with Michael to help him thrive in his new role.
And Some Things Never Change
There’s lots of change and new things at Pantano these days. But, some things never change. Over the holiday break, I reflected on how amazing you are, Pantano. When I say that, I’m talking about YOU. I’m so proud of our church! You are generous! You serve our church, each other, and you serve our community in amazing ways. You faithfully give so we can to accomplish the mission God has given us. For our Christmas Eve offering, you gave $95,888 to support the Tucson Homeless Work Program. Wow! That’s incredible! Thank You! I’m so grateful to be able to serve with you all.
I have great news! We have a new Lead Pastor. With overwhelming joy, excitement, and honor, I get to introduce to you Trevor DeVage. Trevor will be Pantano’s 9th Lead Pastor in our 60-year history. See the DeVage Family photo here.
First, let me share the process that got us here. I’ve known Trevor for about nine years. He was one of the guys I wanted us to consider as my successor, but he wasn’t available until September of this year. I made contact, and he entered our process. His profile, which our search company vetted, was given to our interview team.
The team did two interviews and unanimously recommended him to our elders. The Elders did an interview and asked the Executive Team to do an interview. The Executive Team also did extensive social media and online reviews and unanimously recommended Trevor back to the Elders. Trevor just completed an onsite visit, met with the staff, and had two meetings with the elders. This past weekend, the Elders unanimously offered Trevor the Lead Pastor role, and he accepted.
Trevor checks off every box for the person we were looking for. While no one is perfect or the “complete package,” Trevor is uniquely suited for who we are where God is leading us as a church.
It took just under a year to find my successor. We had looked at and released 15 candidates previous to Trevor, and so I affectionately call him “16.” Thank you for all your prayers and patience over this past year.
Trevor went to college at Lincoln Christian University and completed his degree in preaching with a minor in youth ministry. He followed this up with a teaching degree from Wheaton University. During the next three years, he pursued his love of music, playing as a drummer in a band. However, the Lord led him back to ministry—first youth ministry, then preaching, where he spent ten years serving at Compass Christian in Dallas, Texas. Trevor joined Christ’s Church (Mason, Ohio) as Lead Pastor in 2013.
Trevor is married to his wife, Laura, and has two daughters, Ella (senior in high school) and Natalie (freshman in high school). They enjoy the outdoors, and this means lots of basketball and walks in the park. Trevor’s other passions are golf, music, photography, the arts, and the Florida Gators. His ultimate goal in life is “that it is evident that I’ve spent time with Jesus.” You can learn more about Trevor at https://www.trevordevage.com/.
Trevor is an excellent communicator. He’s creative. He’s a pastor who loves to be with people. He’s had excellent experience in some great churches and has great mentors. He’s a man with high integrity and passion for those not connected to Jesus or a church. He shares our Pantano vision, mission, values, and “DNA.” We are set to be led into an amazing future.
Here’s a summary of the plan and timeline for transition: Trevor and his family will be here over Thanksgiving, and we’ll introduce them on Sunday, November 28th. He will start part-time on January 2nd. His daughter is a senior in high school, so they will not move until after she graduates. He’ll begin full-time on June 19th, 2022. However, he’ll be here in Tucson for eight days each month through May. Those trips will include two Sundays; the first Sunday of his time here will allow him to connect with folks and observe, and he’ll preach on the second Sunday of his visits. During his time here in 2022, he and I will begin discussing what’s next for me. Trevor desires that I continue here at our church, and we’ll discuss what that might look like. I look forward to serving my new Lead Pastor!
Please pray for the DeVage family as they begin their season of transition and change.