I’ve Moved and What I’m Learning 3

So, it’s been a little over a month that I’ve been in my new home state of Minnesota and the journey, well, it’s a journey.

Personal side…

Every transition creates tension. In our case I feel like of all our transitions this has been a very relatively smooth one. Our oldest daughter, who’s 10 years old, was my biggest concern as she had made very close friends with other girls in SoCal. So far, though, she seems to be adjusting well. I attribute that to Brieana and I spending a lot of time with her and as a family going out to explore, have fun and take advantage of Minnesota summers. I think it’s kept her from “being bored” thus not giving her time to sulk.

My other kids are doing well. The next two in line have found a few friends already and seem to be adjusting without any problems. The last two are too young to know any better. Though I do find it interesting that my three-year-old thinks we’re “not home” and asks sometimes when we’re going back home. That is happening less and less as he slowly realizes that this is home.

Ministry side…

Whoa! I feel like I’m learning more than I’m teaching at this point. This is a new position for me and for River Valley Church. After more than a month, it’s no surprise that there is more to do than what people thought. I think that’s what happens with most transitions though.

Here’s a snippet of what I’m looking at:

• River Valley has grown from 2,000 to 5,000 people in two years.
• Youth ministry is not too bad and with some structural changes will blast off.
• Children’s ministry at one campus is 900 kids with NO children’s pastor.
• Children’s ministry at the campus with 900 kids literally has about 10 volunteers total in their elementary grades and needing more early childhood workers as well.
• There are no policies or procedures that are known or at least being followed.

There is more, but I’ll stop at that. I’m ABSOLUTELY not complaining. I’m just merely laying out what I believe is a humbling experience. I truly am amazed and humbled that God and this church believed that I can make a difference and be apart of turning our children’s ministry into a world-class ministry.

It does feel like trying to stop a train going 100 mph, except there are no breaks. Or, picture yourself standing in front of a fire hose aimed at you with the water flowing full blast. As much as this can sound overwhelming and I’d be lying to you if I told you I wasn’t at times—I love it. It reminds me that I NEED God and as long as I stay under His covering, He always makes a way.

In situations like these, you have to stop a moment, take a deep breath, pray and begin prioritizing what needs to happen. As I do this it does two things. It shows me how much work actually needs to get done. Two, it reminds me how you eat an elephant—one bite at a time. Sure, it’s a lot, but it’s doable.

So much more to share. If you have specific questions about transitioning or stories yourself, please let me know at justyn (at) justynsmith (dot) com

One thing is for sure…I love River Valley, Pastor Rob and this area. The River Valley team is amazing and that’s what makes this even more fun!



  1. You are doing an AMAZING job so far Pastor Justyn. I know there is a lot to do right now but God will grow your talents and gifts as you are stretched! Keep up the great work!

  2. Hey Justyn!

    Josh Carter here. Next Gen. Pastor at Tri-Cities Baptist Church. Would love to connect with you on the phone if you have about 10 min. Would love to tell you where we are as a church and get some advice from you if you have time. Let me know if this is possible! Thanks bro!

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