Lead Pastor Transition

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On May 8, 2019, Pastor Ryan Nilsen announced his resignation from the role of Lead Pastor at Praise Christian Fellowship, effective July 7, 2019. This was followed up by an announcement during our Sunday, May 12 worship service. He has accepted a call to serve our denomination as Associate Director of North American Mission, and as a result has resigned from his call as our pastor.

The Church Council—our board of elders—has affirmed and supported Pastor Ryan’s decision to obey God’s call, and they have expressed gratitude for Pastor Ryan’s ministry at Praise.

For additional details, we encourage you to read the resignation letter from Pastor Ryan and the letter from the Church Council:

  • CLICK HERE for Pastor Ryan’s letter. (PDF file download)

  • CLICK HERE for the Church Council’s letter and FAQs. (PDF file download)

This marks a major transition for Praise, during which the Church Council will be:

  1. Providing farewell opportunities for the church and Pastor Ryan

  2. Leading the church during the transition

  3. Guiding the search process for our next lead pastor

You can keep up-to-date on the latest information by bookmarking this page and checking back from time to time.

Transition Update June 7, 2019

We are pleased to announce that Jeff Fitting has agreed to become chairman of our pastor search committee. Jeff has served in many leadership positions and ministries at Praise including Stephen Ministry, Celebrate Recovery, Alpha and kitchen improvement committee. We are encouraged that he will shepherd our pastor search process. Jeff and the elders will complete assembling search team members the next couple of weeks as Pastor Ryan wraps up his leadership role as our Lead Pastor.

We have also begun the process to hire an interim pastor to assist our transition to the pastor we will call. Last week Pastor Warren Geraghty met with us to assess our needs and offer helpful suggestions on how best to proceed.

Please remember to pray for and participate during our transition chapter at Praise. We desire to live our mission to help each other live for Jesus as we continue to move forward pleasing God.


While all dates are subject to change, this is our current projected timeline for the transition period:

Phase 1: Good Endings (June – July 2019) - COMPLETED

  • Appreciating and sending Pastor Ryan

Phase 2: Preparation (May – July 2019)

  • Assembling and launching search committee

  • Creating a church profile

  • Creating a job description

Phase 3: Discernment (July – Fall 2019)

  • Advertising and interviewing potential candidates

  • Recommending a candidate to the church

Phase 4: Affirmation (Winter - Spring 2020)

  • Candidating weekend

  • Congregation meeting and vote

The Search Process at Praise

When a pastor announces his resignation, one of the first questions people naturally ask is “Who will our next pastor be?” Other questions quickly follow, such as, “How will we pick our next pastor?” and “Will I be able to have a say in who the next pastor will be?”

There are many models for selecting pastors. In some churches pastors are appointed by the denomination. Our synod (another word for denomination) doesn’t operate that way because we are congregational in structure. While the Church of the Lutheran Brethren synod has resources to assist, we as a local body are responsible for search and selection of our pastors and interim pastors as desired.

Finding and selecting the minister we feel is God’s choice to lead Praise is a task requiring much prayer, consideration and time. It involves knowing who we are, defining our expectations and seeking among many potential candidates the man we believe is called by God to join and lead us forward as we make disciples. Congregation input by surveys and other means will take place. The process leads to a candidate visit, congregation vote and God’s confirmation to accept the call by a particular pastor.

The process typically lasts from eight to 16 months. While that may seem long to some, taking the time to find God’s choice for our next lead pastor is important as we desire to grow, share and serve under his leadership for many years.

The first step will be to convene a search committee responsible on behalf of the congregation to pray for and search out candidates. The church council desires a team with balance of giftedness, representative diversity and a size to commend wise decision making. We expect to complete assembly of the search committee the weeks before Pastor Ryan departs. When the team is up and running, we’ll share their names with you so that you can interact with them.

We are also considering having an interim pastor, a short-term pastor with special training and gifts to help bridge the gap and assist with transition to the new pastor. Many churches choose to call an interim pastor after the departure of a long-tenured pastor.

Please continue to pray for our church’s and Pastor Ryan’s transition as we move forward seeking God’s will.

Be sure to check back from time to time for the latest news about the transition.