Pastor Swap Sundays Strengthen Bonds Between Three Oregon Churches

 In All Church of God, CHOG, Western

By Carl Stagner

It all started with a lightbulb moment. Though it wasn’t an original bright idea, he could envision it working in his context. While attending a church in Denver years ago, Jason Mitchell sat under the preaching of pastors from four or five different churches in close proximity as they “swapped pulpits” for as many Sundays as it took each to finish the circuit. This summer, Pastor Jason’s church—Springfield Church of God in Springfield, Oregon—joined Friendly Street Church of God in Eugene, Oregon, and Riverside Community Church of God in Cottage Grove, Oregon, to pull off an unusual, yet profoundly meaningful series of “Pastor Swap Sundays.”

“There are three aspects to the pulpit swap that really make it a benefit to all involved,” Pastor Jason explains. “The first is for the pastors, as they are able to write one sermon and then preach it multiple times. This frees up sermon prep and rehearsal time in the following weeks, hopefully allowing us to get ahead in our sermon preparations. The second positive aspect is that the pastors get to experience preaching in different churches. This can be encouraging and help pastors grow as they experience different settings and congregants. The third is for the congregation, who I believe will greatly benefit. The ability to hear different voices in the pulpit, especially from sister churches in the Church of God, is a great opportunity.”

In an effort to create continuity, establish guideposts, and foster unity, a theme for the sermon series was developed for each pastor to follow. “Downtime: Sabbath, Simplicity, and Solitude” spoke to the hearts of congregants each week in all three settings, from three separate perspectives. For example, on one Sunday, each pastor spoke in his or her own church; one on Sabbath, one on simplicity, and one on solitude. On the other two Sundays, each congregation heard preaching on the remaining two topics from the other two pastors. Following the preacher swap, a concluding Sunday evening unity service brought all churches together in worship and prayer to celebrate the experience.

“Participating in this pulpit share was a great blessing and benefit to all of the pastors and our churches,” Jason reflects. “These three weeks allowed reprieve for the pastors and the ability to spend time working ahead, on vacation, and enjoying a break from the weekly pressure of preparing a sermon. This also allowed the pastors the ability to visit two other churches, which we rarely do. I can’t speak for Jenny and Andrew, but for me it was great to worship with these two other congregations but grew in me a longing to be back in my pulpit with my church! The congregations expressed that they enjoyed getting to connect with our sister churches, hear new voices, and practice hospitality toward others in our movement. Overall this experience bonded our three churches, which is always a beautiful thing as we pursue furthering the kingdom of God together.”

Learn more about the Church of God movement at

Feature (top) photo: From left to right: Pastors Jason Mitchell (Springfield), Jenny Elliot (Friendly Street), and Andrew Loyd (Riverside Community).

Start typing and press Enter to search