Senior Pastor Transition

April 14, 2019 - James Armstrong Announcement.

Check here first for all updates and news regarding this transition.

On Sunday April 14, 2019 James Armstrong announced that he will be transitioning out of Bethel’s Senior Pastor roll as his family pursues God’s calling to be more directly engaged in global missions. James’ last Sunday will be June 23.

We Want to Say Thank You

The Armstrong family has had a significant impact on the people of Bethel. If you would like to say thank you, please consider writing a note of encouragement. You may also give to the Armstrong Family Love Offering if you feel led. We will combine all notes and donations into going-away gifts to show our love and appreciation for the Armstrongs. 





Senior Pastor Transition Update (Rob Hopp)

Apr 27, 2019

Even if you weren't in the Sunday service from two weeks ago, you have probably heard about Pastor Jame's announcement of his transition out of the senior pastor position.

see more

Frequently Asked Questions

The Armstrongs have been sensing an increasing calling to be more directly involved in international missions, specifically in mobilizing and training others to fulfill the Great Commission and reach the “nations” (Matthew 28). Their plans are not yet finalized, but it seems that a door is opening in Florida. This will also give James some additional space for an increased focus on his PhD work, and provide a way to live closer to their children. Their last day at Bethel will be on June 23, and they will move shortly after.

All updates, announcements, and any other information related to both the Armstrongs' transition as well as developments in the search for Bethel’s next senior pastor will be posted on this webpage, including all video recordings of Sunday morning announcements. If you are personally receiving questions about the transition feel free to direct people to this webpage to watch James’ video, see the FAQs, and to contact someone if needed. Updates will regularly be posted here as well as shared on Sunday mornings.

When James was hired, there was not a two-year clock on his tenure at Bethel. But we aren’t inclined to put God in a box either. The reasons vary, but it is common for a senior pastor who comes in after a long-term senior pastor to have a shorter tenure. While we didn’t hire expecting this would be the case for Bethel, knowing what has happened at other churches does help give perspective on the situation.

We serve a God who is engaged in His creation and relationally pursues His bride (the body of believers that is the Church). We must always be prepared for change with our God. Our mission of “making disciples” continues and is the core of who we are. Recently we have unveiled The Pathway, as a systematic enhancement to our process for making disciples which will continue for the foreseeable future.

ONE (One Church, One Mission) and The Pathway are God’s vision for Bethel and we unveiled them in His timing based on when they were ready. There was significant input and planning from elders and staff and, while James played a role in the process, it was not “James’ vision” but it is the church’s vision. As a result, nothing changes when James leaves. Additionally, ONE (One Church, One Mission) and The Pathway provide further clarity for our methods in how we fulfill our mission, and we didn’t want to delay them for any reason.

Follow this link to write a brief message of encouragement and thanks to the Armstrong family. Additionally, feel free to donate here towards a gift. Or in the memo line of a check to “Armstrong Family Love Offering.” These donations will be combined to purchase a gift from the Bethel family. The opportunity to write or give will be open through May 14th, and the messages and gift will be presented to the Armstrongs during service on June 23 in Richland. Of course, if you see James or Wendy and want to love on them, please do so!

If you were here during the search that led to James, you remember how long that process was. We did not compromise in seeking God’s leading to find the right person and there is no doubt that James Armstrong was exactly who God intended for Bethel. In the same way that we sought God’s direction at that time, we will continue to do so. This is a God-led church, and we will individually and as a body faithfully follow wherever He leads.

First and foremost, we will continue to submit to the Lord and place tremendous effort into prayer and discerning God’s will for Bethel. Bethel is an “elder led” church, meaning we have Biblically qualified men serving as elders who carry the leadership responsibility for the vision of the church and ensuring that we remain true to our mission of “making disciples”. This is in contrast to other church models that are “senior pastor led”. One strength of Bethel’s model is that it facilitates a plurality of leadership to both discern God’s direction, and also help carry the weight of leadership. Additionally, we have been blessed with many excellent pastors and staff who provide day-to-day leadership of Bethel’s various ministries. With continued humility before the Lord, leadership, and a unified and mobilized church body, we believe Bethel’s ministries will continue to flourish, and “the best is yet to come”.

Practically, there are several ways that a new senior pastor may come to Bethel, some examples include hiring from within, re-engaging Vanderbloemen for a national search, or organically from relational connections and word-of-mouth, etc. We are beginning to explore these and other options. The process is just getting started and as things progress in this area there will be regular updates.

First and foremost, pray. There is much to pray for: the transition for the Armstrong family, our faithful execution of the work on ONE and The Pathway, protecting the church from the attack of the enemy, and discernment in the senior pastor search. Pray often and as the Spirit leads. Second, be faithful in doing your part in the ministry to maintain the momentum and unity that exists with Bethel. Our strength comes from our unity in Christ, and the enemy will stop at nothing to divide us. Love others and assume the best, encourage each other, ask questions, don’t let seeds of doubt grow, and continue to be the hands and feet of Jesus by staying fully engaged. 

Need more information? We're here to answer your questions.

If you want to talk with someone directly, or have any questions or comments, please contact us in one of the following ways:


Rob Hopp, Bethel Elder Chairman

Andy Gilbertson, Prosser Campus Elder Chairman

Blaine Carr, Richland Campus Elder Chairman

Wayne Stigge, West Pasco Campus Elder Chairman

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