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A Word from Our Staff

Pastoral Candidate Introduction: Get to know Pastor Jeff

Posted by Jeff Levine on with 1 Comments

On August 26, the Bethany Elders announced that Pastor Jeff Levine is our candidate for Lead Pastor at Bethany Church.  The congregation will have the opportunity to hear Pastor Jeff's vision for our Church as well as get to know him more through a Town Hall Meeting on Sunday, September 9 at 1 pm.  In anticipation of that, Pastor Jeff shared a bit about himself in the following, which was published on Sunday, September 2. Read on to learn more about his life and ministry preparation. 

Please share about your family: Lauren and I met in college and were married September 15, 2007. This month we will celebrate 11 years of marriage. I truly love her deeply and have enjoyed how God has used our marriage to shape us. We recently welcomed our first child, Scarlett Elizabeth Levine, on August 10, 2018. She is a joy and I delight in her. We have a dog named Bailey and a cat named Toonces. I am truly blessed.

Describe your faith journey: My faith journey started when I was very young. I grew up in the church and my mom was my Sunday school teacher. She always modeled faith and faithfulness to me. I prayed to receive Christ as my Savior when I was 7 years old and was baptized shortly after. Unfortunately my family went through a very challenging season where my dad’s business failed and we lost our home. This resulted in my dad working long hours and not really being present as much. At the age of 11, I began experimenting with drugs and spent 12 years of my life addicted to meth. Throughout that time I knew God was calling me and pursuing me. Towards the end of my addiction I realized I wanted a relationship with Jesus more than I wanted to get high, but I didn’t know how to stop. I began reading a book called “Old Man, New Man” which helped me deal with issues of fatherlessness (my dad died from a heart attack when I was 17), and then helped me look at the spiritual strongholds Satan had in my life. I then got down on my knees on the floor of my room and renounced Satan in the name of Jesus, asking God to fill my life with His Spirit. That was December 2, 2003 and my life was changed forever! I started reading His word every morning, sharing my faith and experience with those around me, and started developing a heart for ministry. I began attending Bethany regularly and got involved with the college group. I was given the opportunity to lead a small group and do some teaching. It was an amazing time where I learned that God had given me a gift to teach and preach His Word. I then got involved with the missions team where I was encouraged to explore an opportunity at the Long Beach Rescue Mission. The idea of working in homeless services wasn’t even on the radar, but it became clear God was calling me there. After serving two weeks as an unpaid intern they offered me a part-time position as a Chaplain working in the evenings. From there I fell in love with the people, saw God help me develop a great rapport with those I serve, and watched as He transformed countless lives over the past 12 years. I knew Scott Foster throughout this journey and was asked to join him at Bethany part-time during an interim period to assist with teaching and helping cast a vision for the church. I know I am where I’m supposed to be, doing what I was created to do when I am teaching and preaching His Word. I love people and love walking with them as they grow spiritually.

How long have you been at Bethany and in what areas have you been involved in the life of the church? I’ve been at Bethany since 2003. I’ve been involved in many ministries, including our college group, young married group, young adult ministries. I’ve had the privilege to serve on the Bethany Missions board, and have led short-term trips to Chicago, New Orleans, and Mexico.  Throughout that time I’ve either led or co-led small groups and have been available to serve in whatever capacity I’m needed. Over the past nine months, I have led the teaching team, on which I have served for three years, and have helped to co-lead the staff with Pastor Tim during this transition.

What has prepared you for this role as Lead Pastor?  I have been in full-time ministry for 12 years, serving in various capacities at both Long Beach Rescue Mission and Bethany Church. In my current role at the mission, I’ve served as Program Director, overseeing all of the men’s and women’s discipleship programs and leading an incredible team of staff.  I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Biblical and Theological Studies from Biola University and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Redlands. I believe my experience in ministry and my education have prepared me to lead effectively in this role.

What excites you about serving as Lead Pastor at Bethany Church?  Having served during a time of transition and seeing Bethany heal and grow in many ways, I’m excited to continue building on the foundation that we’ve already established. I look forward to helping Bethany realize the vision of seeing God glorified and seeing people transformed into passionate disciples of Jesus. I believe that there is an energy and momentum that God has stirred in us and I am excited to lead our congregation to realize God’s best for us.  I have loved building and developing the relationships I have with so many in our body and look forward to being able to devote intentional time getting to know others and investing in their spiritual growth and development as disciples of Jesus. I truly believe God is going to do something special in and through Bethany. I’m so excited to be a part of that work with you!

What do you envision for the future of Bethany?  I have so many dreams for our church, but there are a few very specific things God has put on my heart recently as I think about Bethany Church and her future:

1) I have a vision of 1,000 people regularly attending our services. I’m not a “bigger is better” kind of person, but I do believe in being effective as a church. This means if we are truly carrying out our vision, we will see our congregation grow because as disciples, we will be making other disciples. I pray that God would add to our number day by day those who are being saved. 

2) I believe God wants us to take seriously the call to “Go.” This means that we as a congregation have to take missions seriously. I see Bethany as a place where leaders are developed and where people are called and equipped for living their lives on mission either locally or globally.

3) I am convinced that remaining connected to God’s church is vital to our growth and development as believers. I desire to see a clear pathway created that can engage people wherever they are in their spiritual journey and help them continue to grow, starting with our youngest children, through our teens and college students, as well as thriving mature adults. So whether you are new to the faith, or have been a believer for decades, there would be opportunities for you to grow and use your gifts within the church.

How can we pray for you? Please pray for spiritual guidance and protection. Pray that God would clarify His vision for Bethany in my heart and that He would guard and protect me from the evil one.  Pray for my family. Pray that God would help me balance between life and ministry. Pray that I would be the best husband to Lauren that I can be, and the best father to Scarlett I can be. Pray that my marriage and role as a father would model to the church God’s heart for His people and willingness to sacrifice for her sanctification.

What is a verse that has been meaningful to your life? There are many verses that have brought me encouragement throughout my life, but in this past season I have been strengthened through what God spoke by the Prophet Isaiah:

“But you, Israel, My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, descendant of Abraham My friend, you whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called from its remotest parts and said to you, ‘You are My servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you. Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’” Isaiah 41:8-10

My confidence in stepping into this role is that God has called me to this and will strengthen me for the work ahead. I do not have to be afraid for He is with me.  - Pastor Jeff

 

Tags: candidate, lead pastor, pastoral search

Comments

Steve and Linda Fleischmann September 10, 2018 7:19am

As Steve and I were having our morning coffee he sat while I read him your words. With tears in his eyes he said you are going to be of great influence. We are so proud and thankful for you! You are truly where you are meant to be! Praise God. Love to your precious family! We love you!

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