Podcast Episode 016, 40 min
Pastoral Longevity and Ministry Partnership with Gary Garcia (Ep 16)
Karl Vaters and Gary Garcia have a unique relationship. They’ve worked together at the same church for 29 years. For the first 25 years Karl was Gary’s lead pastor. For the last 4 years Gary has been Karl’s lead pastor. Yes, at the same church.

GG: So, I was probably, I'd already had the job when I got the calling. Which is always such a weird thing, but I mean, I got saved on a missions trip, so there you go. I seem to do everything a little bit backward, but I had been at this church my whole life and really found Christ in my later teenage years.

Started serving in the youth ministry. They had asked me to oversee junior high and come on staff as the junior high pastor. So I did that and not long after that, there was a church split. And so everybody left for the staff. For the most part, it was just the old lead pastor and myself and the church secretary.

They asked if I would take the youth ministry until they found somebody else to do it. And so I was just kind of leading it, assuming that at one point I would not be leading it anymore. It was through that time that I really felt God's calling. It was I'd taken the students to camp, a winter camp, and actually was supposed to come back down the hill to do some stuff for the career I was looking at.

In the middle of that camp, I felt just, God, clearly saying, "This is what I have for you, and this is what you're called to do." And so, yeah, and I, I knew it then and never looked back, never dreaming that I would still be in the same place for my whole youth ministry career. But yeah, so that was kind of in a small story. That's really it. I had the job, got the calling, and then just continued on.

KV: Yeah. Now, before that, of course, I've actually seen video of your mother walking through the front door of our church, pregnant with you. So you've been around this church a while.

GG: Yeah. Yeah. Same church, my whole life. I mean, that's kind of a rare thing, but it just, I, I always assumed at some point I would leave. I never dreamed I'd be the lead pastor, let alone the youth pastor growing up. And it's one of those things where I'm open to whatever God has for me. It's definitely not one of those, I'm afraid to leave the nest situations. But I've also felt like I don't want to go just to go. I don't want to go just because I feel like that's what we're supposed to do.

I heard Rick Warren say one time that all he ever wanted was to pastor one church his whole life. And not to say that I'm going to be here the rest of my career, but I mean, you know, this first part of it, it's just I've never felt a release. I've never felt like God calling me to go somewhere else. But I also never felt like I don't have a vision and passion and direction for where I'm at and what I'm doing.

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