Milestone Sunday

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Peter, you announced a few months ago that the role of Lead Pastor will be passed on to Nathan and Megen Thurber. What led to this decision?

TICC belongs to Jesus Christ, and the church was birthed by a prophetic word in my spirit from God, so I take it very seriously. Over the past year a realization has grown in my heart that my role is changing. I have submitted this matter to the Lord and step by step he has guided my thinking. My own conviction has been confirmed by the agreement of the Board of Directors and the positive reaction within our church family. 

Another factor is of course that God has raised up Nathan as a preacher, a teacher and a leader. He has shown an energetic, creative and anointed leadership in so many areas of the church over the last couple of years.  

Nathan, you knew that this was coming before anyone else. How have you prepared yourself?

I am not sure one can ever be fully prepared. However, the preparation I have received, I owe to many people. First, my parents, who were dedicated Baptist pastors, and worked another full time job on the side to pay the bills. Then to Pastor Peter, who for the past 17 years has trained me at his Bible College, given me a great job and even let me stay in his family home for 5 years. I am grateful. 

Peter, what will be your role in TICC moving forward?

I will continue to serve on the Board of the church, to preach and teach in Sunday services, and to serve as a spiritual mentor. Since December, I have been preaching at least two Sunday per month and this will continue. My role is changing, but my involvement continues. For those who visit our administration area, my office will remain in the same place. Nathan and I have been a team and that will continue.

Nathan, give a bit of yours and Megen’s background in ministry?

Megen graduated from Kenneth Hagin’s Bible College in 1999. She later served as Assistant Youth Pastor at Keith Butler’s church in Detroit, Michigan. I have worked with Pastor Peter since graduating World Impact Bible Institute in 1999. I was privileged to organize over 60 oversees campaigns for Pastor Peter in Africa, Asia and North/South America. I am very fortunate to have married Megen 10 years ago. She is definitely my better half, and quite beautiful too!  

What does TICC mean to you Peter? 

I love our church, and I’m honored to serve. TICC is my spiritual family in a very real and practical sense. It is the place anywhere in the world where I feel totally at home in a Sunday service. My hope is that every member of the congregation feels the same. Being the Founding Pastor means I was here from the beginning when we had nothing - not a chair, a microphone, or a place to worship – and this gives me a unique perspective. When you have been involved in pioneering a church, that church becomes a part of you in a great way.

To me, TICC is a funtioning body of beleivers. There are many members, each one serving an important function.

Nathan, how do you see yourself continue working on this spiritual building called TICC?

Celebration Church has been given a rich heritage of faith and love by our Founding Pastor, Peter Youngren. I believe the way we truly honor that foundation, is first to celebrate that legacy, and then to aim higher, believing that our greatest days are ahead. In my role, I will endeavor, by God’s grace and godly counsel, to work in that same spirit of faith and love. 

Peter, what changes do you see for TICC moving forward?

The biggest change will be in people’s perception. Nathan has in fact been doing most of the work of a Lead Pastor for well over a year. He has conducted weekly TICC staff meetings giving directions for Sunday services, overseeing weddings, funerals, counselling, evangelism, every aspect of the church. This doesn’t mean that I have been inactive. No, I have been involved behind the scenes discussing most or many of the decisions that Nathan makes on a daily basis.  

Nathan, any comments about changes ahead?

On the subject of change, very few ever “like” change. I was initially resistant to the proposition. However, God and godly counsel have prepared and strengthened me for this “change”.
None of Celebration Church core values or vision will change. As has always been the case, our “methods” will change over time as it best serves the church family. All growing, living organisms should embrace innovation and creativity or stagnate and die. Methods relate to how we reach and help people, but have nothing to do with the foundational truths of the Gospel of Grace found in Jesus Christ we present every week.  

To the subject of running the church, it is certainly not only me. I am one part of many. I am grateful for the incredible team that surrounds us. We are blessed.

Peter, what has been the reaction of the Board?

When I first breached the topic almost a year ago, neither Nathan nor I knew what the reaction would be, but already the board had come to appreciate Nathan’s preaching and his spirit and I am glad to say that we have been operating in complete unity. 

Nathan, what response did you expect from the board of the church?

I really didn’t know what to expect, but I am grateful for their positive response. 

Peter, how will you spend your free time?

Not so fast. I don’t foresee any extra free time. As you know we have just re-launched the Toronto Campus for World Impact Bible Institute, and in addition, we are launching the San Diego campus. With this and preaching two Sundays a week at TICC, conducting 5-6 overseas crusades and conferences per year, increased outreach on television, I have a lot on my plate. I do however want to spend more time writing books.

What about the international Gospel Festivals and television outreach?

Burma, Kenya, India, Tanzania, Sierra Leone and Guinea are on schedule for overseas campaigns. In May we are adding five new channels for our telecast in Canada and the United States. We will also soon be broadcasting in India and Africa.

Sometimes your ministry has been described as apostolic. How do you respond?

I don’t like titles but I do recognize that God has given me an apostolic ministry, in teaching and training pastors to advance the gospel, launching ministries, planning churches and laying foundations, and that will continue stronger than ever.

Nathan, do you have a message for the members and friends of TICC?

THANK YOU! None of the great work of Celebration Church would be possible without you. Your generous prayers, sacrifice, finances and love make the work happen! In truth my role is just one of many that make up the great Celebration Church. However, I am grateful you have allowed me to play my role. I believe God to bring us many more great members and friends in the years to come.

Peter, any closing words from you?

When I look at our staff and all our committed members, we are well positioned for continued growth. Our church is strong.

When I listened to Nathan preach at the Easter Sunday morning service, my heart was filled with confidence. I see God’s hand upon him. He’s a godly person who takes the ministry very seriously. His ministry is not built on talent and being cool, though he has both of those characteristics, but it is anchored in a great devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ and a revelation of Christ’s finished work. I want to encourage every member and friend of TICC to see our church experience greater heights than ever.