by Jennifer Svetlik, Salford congregation
“The most rewarding part of my job is helping pastors and leaders navigate the broken, complicated, exhausting, infuriating times and reminding them of the beautiful, glorious, exhilarating, holy nature of the work we’ve been called to,” says Josh Meyer, Leadership Minister. “That’s a difficult and never-ending process, but it’s also incredibly fulfilling.”
Josh sees his role primarily in terms of accompaniment rather than authority. He walks alongside church leaders to encourage, listen, prompt, and pay attention to the movement of the Spirit. “That’s where I’m passionate; that’s what drew me to this role,” Josh reflects.
In addition to serving as a Leadership Minister, Josh is a pastor at Franconia congregation (Telford, PA), an adjunct professor at Eastern University, a husband, and father of three young children.
About a year ago, Josh accepted the invitation to serve as a Leadership Minister but did so with hesitancy, because he wasn’t sure he had the bandwidth to take on another responsibility. But he gave the invitation serious consideration. “After discernment, I began feeling peace and excitement about the possibility of serving as a Leadership Minister,” says Josh.
Josh is energized by helping congregations connect with younger people and those without a faith background. “Our call is to be fishers of people, not merely keepers of the aquarium. In other words, our focus shouldn’t just be on those who are already here,” Josh describes. “Many churches care for their own pretty well, but unconsciously base the bulk of their decisions on who they’re trying to keep rather than who they’re trying to reach.”
Josh’s passions are evident in his desire to push congregations beyond their comfort zones. “Becoming places where young people and unchurched people can feel at home and grow in Jesus is an important, challenging, urgent concern for our faith communities,” explains Josh. “It requires change and sacrifice and letting go. But it’s worthwhile.”
Josh grew up in Souderton, PA. Although he was not raised Mennonite, he was influenced by the vibrant Mennonite community in the area. “Having roots in the area where I now serve has been beneficial, helping me understand some of the cultural nuances of this place. As our conference continues to grow, however, I recognize that my experiences in this particular place are not the norm for an increasing number of our churches,” shares Josh.
Josh brings ecumenical experiences and perspectives to his work as a Mennonite pastor and leader. He was born and dedicated at a Baptist church, spent his formative teenage years in a Lutheran congregation, attended a charismatic Vineyard fellowship in college, and pastored his first five years in a United Methodist context.
“This diverse background formed in me an appreciation for various expressions of faith and a deeply ecumenical understanding of the Body of Christ,” shares Josh. “There is beauty in our diversity, and what unites us and makes us one isn’t that we’re identical, but that we share a common commitment to Christ.” He was drawn to an Anabaptist expression of faith because of the emphasis on the centrality of Jesus, the commitment to peace, discipleship, community, and the understanding of mission.
For their 10-year wedding anniversary in October, Josh and his wife, Kim, are planning a trip to the Grand Canyon, including a rim-to-rim single day hike of the canyon. Josh’s love of travel has taken him around the world, including five continents; by his 50th birthday, Josh hopes to have visited all seven.