SCP Interview #3: Pastor Jeff McLain

Pastor Jeff McLain
East Petersburg Mennonite Church
East Petersburg, PA (Lancaster County, PA)

What do you enjoy the most about being a pastor?

I love the church. I love equipping people to be on mission as a community, and I love helping individuals discover their callings and giftings.

If you had to pick one thing that you feel is a real strength of your church, what would it be?

We are located in a neighborhood that we have been invested and intertwined with since 1720.

What are two advantages of the small church?

There are many exciting advantages to being a small church. One of those is that it gives us the chance to really know each other and to partner together on God’s mission in our neighborhood. It also allows us to put more of our efforts into Kingdom focuses we see in our church community and in our neighborhood. We do not have the drain of the larger overhead of institutions, programs, and structures.

What will be one of the greatest challenges your church will face this year and how do you hope to address that challenge?

The last year for our church really was a year of transition. There were many reasons to celebrate despite those transitions.  This year, as we celebrate, we have named as a year of invitation. We are learning to invite others both into discipling relationships and to journey with us as a church. This is challenging because it’s a level of personal responsibility we have not been used too. However, I think we can overcome this obstacle because we have new staff and are modeling this culture. We also continue to illustrate the excitement we have for the future and the ways we see God renewing us and even growing us. I believe this high vision will help us desire to invite others to see what God is doing.

What one thing do you wish your members knew about what it is like being a pastor?

The answer here probably depends on the week. However, I think overall it would deal with helping them see the oppressive weight of the expectations they hold on the church, on pastors, and each other.

If you had to give one piece of advice to a new pastor just starting out, what would it be?

My answer is to be “grounded,” but there are three parts to this singular answer.  Be grounded in your call to Pastoring and the context you are in. Be grounded in your ability to hear God’s leading. Be grounded in your ability to find support outside of your context.

What are you currently reading? 

Reclaiming Glory: Revitalizing Dying Churches by Mark Clifton, Old Testament Survey by Lasor, Hubbard, and Bush, Biblical Interpretation 101  by Derek Morphew, and For Phillies Fans only! by Rich Wolfe