New Chapter

Meaningful Creative Work

New Chapter

Major life shift ahead! For 25 years, I’ve been on staff at three churches in a production/music/leadership role — but I’m exploring something different for the next chapter. Several people have asked questions — so I’m writing to answer some of these questions for transparent explanation. I’ll update this post as I get more questions.

Here was the email our lead pastor sent to the creative arts community yesterday...

Creative Arts Family, 

We have been going through seasons of change as a church. While we celebrate the many good things God is doing in the lives of so many who faithfully serve PV, we also have permission to feel sad when people leave or things change. Today, I’m sharing a staff transition that promises to hold new beginnings and good things, and yet I still know we will feel the impact of this change as a church.

Bryan Nelson has been earnestly seeking God’s direction in his life, and he has wrestled with the decision to step away from his role as Creative Arts Pastor for some time. The Nelsons will remain members of PV, but Bryan is taking a leap of faith knowing that God has something good in store for them on the other side of obedience.

I am so very grateful for the leadership he provided our church over the last nearly eight years. He is a visionary who helped bring events like Red, White and Blast and the Liberty Light Show to life. He is a disciple maker who created a culture of leadership development that we have the benefit of experiencing every weekend during worship. From elementary-aged students who are learning how to run cameras and play instruments to gifted high school students and young adults leading us in worship, Bryan believes all generations can use their gifts to serve and lead with excellence.

I am so proud that Bryan is a leader who believes family is first and foremost, and I know this change in role will create opportunities for him to be his best as a husband and a father as his kids walk through their teen years. As a church that holds family as a high value, I appreciate the risks he weighed to make a bold decision for his family.

I am humbled that Bryan and Lisa love their PV family so much that even though they’re transitioning off staff, they are choosing to stay invested in their church community. That speaks volumes about our culture and the life they have built with you here. Those of you in the Creative Arts community are a major reason they will be continuing to journey with us. Personally, I am grateful they will still be part of our church family!

We don’t know exactly how things will unfold in the days ahead. We will prayerfully seek God’s direction. We will take our next steps expectantly knowing that God is good, and He has good things for the Nelsons and PV. We will keep you in the loop as we move forward.

I am including Bryan’s letter so you can read it. 

It’s an honor to serve alongside you.

You are champions,

Merle

My letter…

Monday, June 14, 2021

Dear Merle,

After much prayer and consideration, I’m writing to share my impending resignation as Creative Arts Pastor at Pleasant Valley. With the goal of honoring my church family, my goal is to work to establish a timeline that best suits the needs of PV in designing what is needed for the future.

I plan to keep my family integrated into our local church/school relationships — therefore I am not seeking another church position out of the area. I would like to network openly for something that would be a cultural and gifting fit for me. Any recommendations and references would be welcomed. In the mean time, we are trusting God with our future and desire to continue to follow His leading. We’d appreciate prayer for peace in the days ahead.

I deeply appreciate the season at PV and the opportunities God provided to both serve and grow personally. We look forward to our family serving with you in the capacity the Lord sees fit in the days ahead. Thank you for the investment in me and my family — which will bear fruit for years to come.

Blessings,

Bryan Nelson


Answers to Questions People Have Asked

Are you sticking around Pleasant Valley? Yes. We will step back when appropriate. We will serve in other capacities as appropriate. Joshua (16), Kayla (14), Tyler (12) are all super plugged into our community — so we will continue to make Pleasant Valley our home church. I know other friends who’ve come off staff and can’t make it work for various good reasons — but we are wanting to give it a go. We think we can give the appropriate amount of space for who’s next.

Did the church ask you to leave? No. This was my decision alone. I initiated. In fact, they wanted to know if I was interested in discussing staying on in another capacity. I appreciated the offer to consider — but respectfully declined.

So why are you leaving? I’m approaching my 2nd half of life. It’s common for peeps like me in megachurches to shift to something different. Many shift to other church roles. However, I’ve been inside the walls of the church for 25 years. I’m ready for something different beyond the walls of the local church. Lisa and I have prayed and discussed this (probably for far too long). Every church (and organization for that matter) has its own set of positives and challenges. Those challenges certainly shape and mold us. Will I enjoy not having to deal with those challenges/tensions? Yes! Wouldn’t you in your place of work?! So if you are thinking there’s dirt here — why yes, every organization has “dirt” — and we’ve had candid and appropriate conversations along the way about those challenges. If you are wanting to go digging in the dirt, you won’t find a shovel here. In a nutshell, I’ve had a great 25 years in church-world — and it’s time to spend Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, rehearsal nights, 52 weekends, 6 nights of light show, etc. — as a family while our kids are still with us.

Are you leaving because of recent SBC direction? No. This has nothing to do with the Southern Baptist Convention. Do I have opinions on it? Yes : )

Are you leaving because of the several year controversy over Bethel, Hillsong, Elevation worship songs? No. I have opinions on why songs should be evaluated independently of their (very loose) connections. I feel there is some fear mongering on the YouTubes on this issue. If we are going to get rid of all songs tied to bad actors, then we’ll have to throw out all the Psalms since David sinned with Bathsheba. Let the songs stand alone in revealing accurately who God is as a vehicle unto themselves. Let God deal with the authors.

What kind of job are you looking for? All options are on the table. Full-time. Benefits. Something that will sustain my family without having to work several jobs to make ends meet. Remote or Kansas City area. My skills are in people (so my friends say), technology, project management, spreadsheets, audio, video, graphic design, music writing/arranging, strategic planning, and just helping people. Teaching positions probably won’t sustain my family since my K-12 Education degree hasn’t been used for 25 years in a legitimate teaching capacity (until HR would have mercy on me or consider my experience or masters degree in leadership a valid substitute). I explored a teaching position here in Kansas City, and the starting pay would be less than what I made my first year in 1996 of church work out of college. You teachers aren’t paid enough!!! Wowza. If you are like, send me your resume and I’ll pass it on, here’s a link to my profile on LinkedIn for more info on my wiring/strengths.

How are you? Your family? Your wife? Your kids? We are all doing great. When we shared with the kids that I’m looking for what’s next — it was a big “nothing burger” for them. Lisa and I are doing great — and looking forward to focusing on something different in the days ahead (too many porch swing conversations centered around church-world). In fact, now that this hurdle is cleared — we already feel a little better in moving forward. But don’t hesitate to ask how we are doing in the future : )

What is the timing of the shift? Pleasant Valley is in the driver’s seat for the timing. I’ll strategically stay as long as it’s beneficial to do so. There will likely be a healthy gap period between me and what’s next. When I know the timing, I’ll update it here.

What can I do to help? We are trusting God for this next step. You can certainly pray for us — but if you know of positions that might be a match for me, don’t hesitate to click here to email me for my resume or simply let me know!

17 Responses

  1. Kelly Chambers says:

    Praying for you and your family as you seek the next chapter!

  2. Debbie Resch says:

    Excited to see what God has planned for you! Hugs!

  3. Nelson Peters says:

    May the Lord’s direction give you peace and understanding , as you wait upon him in next ministry of life.

    You and your wife are a continued blessing to the Church, all believers in Christ. I appreciate your open dialogue and look forward to hearing the good news of your life.

    In Christ, a Brother

  4. Lorraine Bates says:

    Prayers your way for direction! I loved you at Topeka Bible Church! Thanks for the update!

  5. We’ll done good and faithful servant! You have been a steady, constant and faithful minister to your people. I pray that the next chapter will prove a tremendous blessing as much as the past chapter has.

    It was a blessing to get to know you while at Wanamaker Woods Nazarene in Topeka.

    Blessings brother.

    Rob Brooks
    Lead Pastor
    Tehachapi Church of the Nazarene
    Tehachapi, CA

  6. Sherrie Peters says:

    Brian and Lisa, I pray that God would lead you to exactly where He wants you to be. You are both amazingly gifted and I am sure that you will be seriously missed … as we have missed you in PA.
    While being in ministry is a phenomenal gift; it definitely takes it’s toll on families. So happy that you are seeking to spend the time with your family while you’re still all in the same home. Life goes by too quickly and the memories you make with them will be your legacy.
    Lord, I ask that you would give the Nelson family a very real sense of your presence and Love. Please guide them and make the pathway to this new chapter very clear to them, at just the right time. I know they love you, Lord. And oh, how you love them, that much more! Please shower them with blessings as they follow your lead.
    We ask these things in the name of your precious Son and our Savior, Jesus, Amen 🙏🏼

  7. Ardis Faber says:

    Love your heart, your openness, honesty, and desire to follow in obedience to what God is asking you to walk toward. He is walking ahead of you. May you know His deep peace as you turn the page on the new chapter. I too, am wondering what He has in store!

  8. Ruth L Naranjo says:

    Here’s to you and family having peace while finding a new niche. Please look in the not so “normal” places, i.e. contact the large hospitals to see if you would fit into their production department, hospice or events coordinator. See what Starlight Theatre has open and The Kauffman.
    Make sure you have enough strength to accept the layman challenges in front of you. Outside of the church community, folks can be quite rough in language and manners. Am sure PV will always support you and family. Prayers your way and I will reserve cussing you out in person.

    Blessings, Ruthie

    • Karen Shields says:

      And some of those outside the church have…shall we say…different lifestyles. I worked with quite a few guys in the auto industry that fit in that category. I’m glad I got to work with them, though.

  9. Love you guys. Proud of your trust in the Lord for His direction, guidance, and peace.

  10. Kenton and SaraAnne says:

    Goodness, we love you all! No words are sufficient – never could be. All we can say is…WE ARE PROUD OF YOU!! ALL OF YOU! And we will always thank God upon our every remembrance of you. Who couldn’t be proud of a daddy and a mama being obedient to God’s prompting?! Much love…now let’s worship together!!!

  11. Ken Keener says:

    Perfect, great decision, one time around with your kids. Invest in them. This is brilliant. I salute y’all 🎩

  12. I pray the Lord favors you and Lisa, Bryan, by surfacing the “perfect” opportunity for you in the next stage of using your rare gifts to advance His radiant cause! His work at Topeka Bible Church still benefits from the years you spent on staff here!

  13. Tom/Becky Olesh says:

    You and your family will be in our prayers. We love you, and know God has a specific purpose and plan for you. You are do talented. Wd surely missed you when you left Lititz. Maybe the Lord is calling you guys to Florida???

  14. Jon Fleckal says:

    Bryan & Lisa,

    God bless you and the kids as you walk with Him into this next chapter of your family’s life.

    – Jon

  15. Karen Shields says:

    You know, sometimes the Lord has to smack us upside the head to get us to do what He says. He did that with me. It doesn’t appear that that was necessary with you. Good! You have gotten out of the comfortable, familiar boat. God’s got something very cool for you guys.

  16. Robert Roach says:

    May God bless you on your future endeavor. I know he has blessed you with many talents. You will be missed!

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