We are in the Exchange Zone?
On September 5, 2021, Valley Family Church celebrated its 30th Anniversary and on that day, Pastors Jeff and Beth recognized that VFC crossed the first line in The Exchange Zone!
What is the exchange zone? In track and field, an exchange zone is designated for exchanging the baton during relay races. This is a 20-meter span in which incoming relay runner hands the baton to the next runner on the team.
In a relay race, as the incoming runner heads to the exchange zone, the second relay runner is building their acceleration, watching the incoming runner approach. Once both runners hit the mark in the exchange zone, the incoming runner slows down as the outgoing runner accelerates. When executed as planned, the rate the baton is traveling never slows.
What does that have to do with Valley Family Church? Fear not, dear friends! We’re sharing the details and getting you up to speed on what the next leg of the race looks like for our church, plus how you can help as we enter this new season!
You guessed it -- Valley Family Church is in the midst of their own, unique exchange zone right now. Recently, Pastors Jeff and Beth, the founders and senior pastors of VFC, uncovered what the exchange zone means for them as a family and as pastors, for the next generation of pastors, and for the congregation as whole. Read on for all the key takeaways and watch The Exchange Zone on our YouTube Channel to hear Pastors Jeff and Beth reflect on the events leading up to this season as well as their vision for all that’s to come.
As it pertains to VFC, Pastors Jeff and Beth are the incoming runners. For the past 30 years, they’ve run the intense leg of their pastoral race and are ready to pass the baton of ministry to the outgoing runner, the next generation -- at God’s pace, by His grace and without experiencing any lag in the race.
Before we dive too deep into the exploration of what’s next, let’s first recap what’s been. For the last 30 years, Pastors Jeff and Beth have had their foot on the gas…the. whole. time. It’s been go, go go! as they’ve planted and nurtured VFC and created the atmosphere of community, personal and church-wide growth, and a passion for the Lord that we’ve all come to know and love today.
P.S.: Did you know, before getting married, and Pastor Beth originally wanted to be a dentist? Yep. Then God interrupted their lives in the best possible way! They got married, attended bible college, planted the church that we now know as our beloved, Valley Family Church, and the rest is history! This is what God created them to do.
Throughout the years, Valley Family Church has been chronicled by God’s word. Over the last 3 decades, Pastors Jeff and Beth have endeavored to follow Lord’s instruction and live by faith as they boldly lead our church. Specifically, they’ve taught the VFC family the importance of “living by God’s Word” just as Jesus said in Matthew 4:4, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” This has been a guiding force throughout their Christian lives as well.
They’ve shared their calling story many times, but in the context of the exchange zone, let’s revisit this important piece of their story and the words God has spoken to them.
Pastors Jeff and Beth
The ministry race started for Pastor Beth when she was in college studying biology with the hopes of becoming a dentist. One day in 1979, the Lord spoke to her heart with a call to ministry through these words from Romans 10:14-15:
“But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, ‘How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!’”
From that moment, Pastor Beth knew she was not to be a dentist, but instead was to serve the Lord in some type of teaching and preaching role. So, that’s what she’s done as the Co-Founding Pastor of Valley Family Church and in writing books and leading The Basics With Beth outreach ministry.
Fast forward 41 years (wow!), to June 17, 2020. Pastor Beth woke up that morning and felt the Lord speaking these words to her heart, “You have laid a good foundation. Now, another builds upon it.” What a light bulb moment it was! The idea that the Lord was giving her His approval for a mission accomplished was overwhelming.
Pastor Jeff started his ministry race when the Lord called him out of the business world. He was a principal partner of a multi-million-dollar company and one weekend in 1985 as He was seeking the Lord and attending a faith-filled conference, God spoke 2 Timothy 2:2 to his heart in a supernatural way! Here’s what it says, “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” He knew that was his call to ministry and shortly thereafter he left the business world to attend Bible School and then in 1991, he and Beth planted Valley Family Church.
Fast forward 36 years later, in August 2020, as Pastor Jeff was rereading 2 Timothy, he read his calling verse and continued reading until he got to 2 Timothy 4:7 (TPT) and the Lord quickened this passage to his heart, “I have fought an excellent fight. I have finished my full course with all my might and I’ve kept my heart full of faith.” He knew God was speaking to him with a sense of approval on running his race with the time to pass the baton on the horizon.
Then, in August 2021, as an additional and clear confirmation, the Lord quickened this passage in Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 and 11-13 to Pastors Jeff and Beth:
“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.”
“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.”
Now, thirty years, four kids, four church buildings, thousands of sermons, tens of thousands of people later -- This was a word from God about a new season.
Just as they’ve always done, they knew they were to live by these words from the Lord.
But, people often wonder, “What do pastors do all week?” From the outside looking in, it may seem like pastors and the other members of the church staff work just a couple of hours on Sundays and take the rest of the week “off.”
Trust me y’all, that couldn’t be further from the truth!
The pressure, duty, and diligence required for 30 years of leadership is no joke. But thankfully, by God’s grace, Pastors Jeff and Beth have not suffered the overwhelming sense of burnout and adrenal fatigue that many, many leaders in the field of ministry do experience. Sure, they’ve had their ups and downs, but thanks to God's grace and the phenomenal team and staff supporting VFC and helping carry the load, our pastors have been able to healthily survive. Pastors Jeff and Beth feel blessed and honored to be doing what God’s called them to do -- and yet, they are ready to make the necessary exchange zone shifts to help the church continue to grow in a good and fruitful way.
So, it’s official, as a church, we are in a new season: The Exchange Zone. God has a timeline for ev-er-y thing. Based upon the things the Lord has spoken to Pastors Jeff and Beth and on the discussions they’ve had with their family, the VFC Board and Executive Team, they are intentionally equipping and preparing the next generation of leaders at VFC.
Here’s the deal: Christianity is always just one generation away from extinction.
“Jesus’s mission has always depended on one generation of leaders handing the mission to the next. Where they have done so effectively, their churches and ministries have continued to thrive. Now the mission is in your grasp.”
As mentioned, on September 5, 2021, our church celebrated its 30th year anniversary (whoop, whoop!) and in addition to signifying 3 decades of VFC, Pastors Jeff and Beth believe this date also signified the reality that we have entered the exchange zone. That is, Pastors Jeff and Beth and VFC have crossed the first line in the exchange zone! (Note: Pastors Jeff and Beth aren’t certain where the second line, that is, the end and baton pass spot within the exchange zone is yet…a 20 meters exchange zone in a relay race doesn’t clearly convert when it comes to passing the pastoral baton at a church!)
The exchange zone we’re in is a strategic zone. Pastors Jeff and Beth have been equipping, empowering, and raising up the next generation in preparation for this season. And, we’re doing it by faith! In the same way the church was started by faith, and the same way the church has been sustained by faith -- it will be transitioned at the right time by faith! Along those lines, this passage in Numbers 8:24 has been a faith-builder and a source of encouragement, Number 8:23-26:
The Lord also instructed Moses, “This is the rule the Levites must follow: They must begin serving in the Tabernacle at the age of twenty-five, and they must retire at the age of fifty. After retirement they may assist their fellow Levites by serving as guards at the Tabernacle, but they may not officiate in the service. This is how you must assign duties to the Levites.”
Did you notice in that passage how the older leaders raise up the younger leaders and make sure they’re empowered, and ready to do the heavy lifting? It’s time, church, for the younger leaders to step up with the continued assistance of the older leaders.
The younger generation is equipped and they’re hungry; they’re energetic and they’re loaded with vision. During the exchange zone, Pastors Jeff and Beth are stepping into a new role of helping to coach the next generation of leaders and foster the next 30 years.
What the Exchange Zone is Not
We’ve uncovered a lot about what the exchange zone is, but just to clarify a little further, let’s talk about what the exchange zone is NOT. Pastors Jeff and Beth are not leaving or retiring. But, they have the same attitude that John the Baptist had when Jesus was revealed. As it says in John 3:30, “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.”
In the exchange zone, Pastors Jeff and Beth will decrease in ways in an effort to increase, elevate, and raise up the next generation in their roles -- and of course, they will always be Founding Pastors and Teaching Pastors at VFC.
At this stage, the exchange zone is geared toward equipping the pastoral and leadership team but guess what? We as a church have a role to play, too! We are called to pray and pray fervently by faith for our church leadership. We need to be praying that God leads and directs the leadership in our church so each member of the team runs their intended leg of this race and stays focused. Our roles as members of the church are significant -- and as we continue to follow Jesus -- He will help us to do our part to build His church.
While we are in the exchange zone, let’s keep doing what we’ve always done! Let’s love God and love people. Let’s live by great faith. Let’s live for the great commission. Let’s live out the great commandment. Let’s help people continue to get the Bible basics and let’s continue to live out our faith. Let’s build a church for all generations! Let’s be people of faith and hope and joy as we are in the exchange zone!