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Look back + live forward (w/ Jeff Leake)

podcast Mar 10, 2022

Jeff Leake has been pastoring a long time. He was the pastoral assistant 30 years ago. Two years in, the lead pastor moved to CA to work at another church…

Jeff stepped into the interim role, then became the lead pastor.

Today, he leads the same church— now a multi-site congregation, spanning 6 physical locations, in the Pittsburg area. 

During this season he enjoys looking back and serving young leaders, pastors who stand in the position he found himself three decades ago. More so, he especially likes serving young leaders who want to plant a church.


In this episode Jeff mentions “the good ol’ days.”

It’s easy to look back and live nostalgically. But that’s not what he refers to at all.  He doesn’t suggest we should just look back in order to complain about the present, either. 

Rather, looking back is a way to remind us of God’s goodness, His faithfulness…


Recently, Jeff rode through a nearby area with the leader of one of their first church plants outside the Pittsburgh area. 

“We drove through the streets,” he said, “and I remembered our drive years before— when the church didn’t exist, when it was just an idea, a dream…”

He adds, “As I sat on the front row of that church, celebrating that first decade, I was moved to tears. None of this was here just years before.”

(We can also learn lessons when we glance in the rear view mirror. People say that experience is a great teacher, but mere experience isn’t. EVALUATED experience, on the other hand, truly is.)

“Looking back,” Jeff says, “offers the opportunity to celebrate the faithfulness you can easily forget.”


Many pastors faced a “crisis of faith” coming through the pandemic.

(Some are still feeling it, in fact.)

Jeff refers to this as “pruning in the pandemic.” And, he reminds us that “God’s pruning is always for our good AND for future fruit” (see John 15:1f.). “Even when it comes in odd ways,” he adds. “Even then we can look back and see his past faithfulness…”

What does this pruning include? 

Jeff refers to something MANY of the guest on the podcast have referenced: “We’ve been measuring the wrong things.” Or— “We’ve measured the right things in the wrong ways…”


Jeff endeavors to transform his church into a “Barnabas house,” that is, a place of encouragement— sacred space which launches people into their calling. 

Barnabas is the Apostle who sold a plot of land and gave the proceeds to the early church. He’s the leader who stood by Paul, effectively endorsing him when everyone else was still nervous about his recent conversion. He’s the sage who believed in Mark, also, even though he’d bailed on Paul and Barnabas amidst their first mission venture. 

You know the outputs of these actions…

  •  The church had resources to feed the widows and expand its footprint.
  •  Paul led mission trips, planted churches, and penned the letters which became the Scriptures we often read.
  •  Mark wrote what many believe to be the first Gospel. 

At each beginning of each of these stories stands that character Barnabas, the one who breathed life into people and pushed them— in a healthy way— towards their call.





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