Nakisha Wenzel's family

Transitions can be challenging and heart-wrenching, even when you know the Lord has called you to “go.” Nakisha Wenzel of King’s City Church (Kings Mountain Foursquare Church) in Kings Mountain, N.C., shares the story of her family’s transition over the past year to senior pastor leadership, in a new church and a new city.

Tell us about the journey you and your husband have been on this past year.

At the end of every year, I host a vision-board workshop as a way of going into a new year focused and prepared for what God is doing in our lives. For the first 30 minutes to an hour of the vision-board creating, class is spent seeking the Lord in prayer and listening for His voice.

During this reflective time on December 30, 2018, the Lord gave me the word “go.” This was baffling to me; I didn’t know what “go” meant. We loved where we lived, we loved the kids in our youth ministry, we loved our church family. Why would we go anywhere? And where would we go? My husband and I sought after the Lord, asking Him for clarity. Eventually, God impressed on us that, wherever He leads, just go.

In May 2019, still unsure of where God was leading, I began to hear Him prompt me to release student ministry, something I wholeheartedly loved. Releasing it—releasing my kids—was heart-wrenching, though I knew God was moving in me and in the church community around me. At that point, we felt like the right thing was to communicate with our boss, the senior pastor, that God was calling us to something else, and that I was leaving youth ministry.

Soon, my husband and I started having opportunities placed before us. Our district supervisor reached out to us about a senior pastor position with Kings Mountain Foursquare Church (KMFC), and we explored that opportunity. As we visited KMFC, we began to fall more and more in love with the church. Even as we walked around the facility, we could see the possibilities for ministry and outreach, and for reaching all generations with the love of Christ.

We accepted the position at KMFC, which the community voted to rename King’s City Church (KCC), and we launched our first Sunday services on September 29, 2018.

It’s evident that God was moving throughout the year to prepare you and your husband for taking the senior pastor role at KCC. What sort of challenges did you face? And how did you navigate challenge during this transitional year?

One of the first challenges was the lack of clarity and waiting for God’s direction to unfold for us. We were given one step or idea at a time, and there would be weeks or months before the Lord would give us more information. All we could do in those times was faithfully seek after Him and seek to open ourselves to Him.

Other situations that called for delicate navigation came up when we told our senior pastor. This was probably the most challenging few months of our transition. When we shared what God was doing with our senior pastor, he began to move our responsibilities to other leaders. We soon became underutilized and marginalized. Though we were leaders, we were not in charge, and it was difficult to keep leading well during a tumultuous season. When a new youth minister was hired, we wanted to make sure we showed our students and their families a healthy way to transition out of our positions.

Looking back, we were grateful for the challenges because they shaped our leadership. We learned not to despise seasons of learning, even when they are uncomfortable, because God ultimately creates something beautiful from those times.

For leaders, there’s a pressure to fix, a pressure to perform, to make the right decisions, or to make a big impact right out of the gate. If we can slow down to listen, then we can lead from a more meaningful place.

What was it like coming into the new church? How did that transition go?

In the nine months between when the KCC senior pastor resigned and we arrived, God was preparing the KCC community. As we met with people, we often found that they had ideas for change that we also were considering. God had been planting seeds in their hearts all the while we were transitioning out of our former church. The KCC family accepted us, and they were willing to be open to any changes that God was calling us to.

What would you tell someone who is facing challenges during their transition to a new ministry, or out of their former ministry?

Don’t despise seasons of learning. When things got hard, we examined those feelings and asked ourselves: “What are we allowing to weigh us down about this? Why is this hard?” When we answered those questions, we dug further to get to the root of the issue.

During a question-and-answer portion of a Women in Ministry Leadership call, I asked Foursquare President Glenn Burris Jr. about how to transition well to a new church. He said, “Listen and lead.” Listen to the desires of the community, listen to what they say is going well, what isn’t going well, listen to their ideas, ask questions to the point of almost being annoying. Process that knowledge, their thoughts and ideas, and then lead from a place of knowing and understanding your community.

For leaders, there’s a pressure to fix, a pressure to perform, to make the right decisions, or to make a big impact right out of the gate. If we can slow down to listen, then we can lead from a more meaningful place.

Also, as leaders stepping into a new role, it’s easy to measure our success against what others did before us. Comparison is the thief of joy. Nothing good or meaningful comes from measuring ourselves against another fallible human being. Instead of looking around at everyone else, look up, look ahead. You have a unique context, so create your own rubric to measure what matters to your church community.

was founded in 1923, and we have been growing leaders ever since.

Leave a Reply