NTS recently interviewed alumnus Rev. Josh Johnson (2011, MDiv with a Certificate in Christian Education)
Tell us about yourself and your family.
I grew up in Southern California in a Nazarene home. My grandfather was a Nazarene Pastor on the Los Angeles District where my parents met. I attended Apple Valley and Camarillo Church of the Nazarene when I was young. Both of these churches shaped me as I discovered my call to full-time ministry. My wife Courtney (m. 2008) and I have one daughter, Gracie, who is three years old. We are in the process of officially adopting her. Our hope is to finalize in early 2019.
Where do you currently serve? How did you sense a call to vocational ministry?
I have served as the lead pastor of the Newhall Church of the Nazarene in Newhall, California for three years.
I received a call to ministry when I was 16 years old. It was confirmed while while I was in high school listening to a sermon by Dr. Jim Diehl who was preaching at Camarillo Church of the Nazarene. While a student at PLNU, I attended European Nazarene Bible College for one and a half years. It was there that God broadened my understanding of the global nature of the Church of the Nazarene. I graduated from PLNU in 2006 with a Philosophy and Theology degree and then took my first youth pastorate in Monterey, California.
In 2009, we moved to Kansas City to finish at NTS full-time. This was the best decision we made as it helped us get plugged into the NTS community. After NTS, the Lord called us back to California to help re-start Santa Maria Church of the Nazarene and we served at the lead pastor there for 5 years. We are now serving together at Newhall Church of the Nazarene for 3 years and counting. Courtney and I serve together as a team as she leads our worship team ministries.
What are some of the unique blessings/challenges of your context?
We live in Santa Clarita, California which is a large community of 210,000 people on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Our church is not located in a neighborhood which makes it difficult to have ministries on multiple days due to being a commuter church. We have people who drive anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour to get to our church. When we think outreach and mission, we need to be intentional in building bridges to our community and going to the people. This is something we are further exploring in terms of outreach. Our life group ministry is one of those ministries where we can connect people to each other and to the Lord. We are seeing family units struggle to get to the church for Sunday morning classes due to distance and time. This is something we are troubleshooting right now as to what is the most effective way to reach our people.
We are seeing a lot of new faces and growth here at NewNaz. We are presently working on two construction projects (remodeling our youth center and fellowship hall to a cafe and building a new entrance to our church). We are launching Upward Basketball League in January 2019, which is has been a process to get started. We just hired a new Associate of Family Life and Connections Pastor and our Life Group ministry is building. Our music program here at NewNaz is one of our largest ministries.
This last year, I had the opportunity to go to Israel for the first time and in March of 2019 I will be taking 20 people from NewNaz to Israel to experience the same blessing. In 2020, we will be leading a Work and Witness team to Puru to rebuild one of the older churches. These are just a few of the exciting things that are happening here at NewNaz!
How did your time at NTS help prepare you for faithful and effective ministry?
NTS helped me think contextually and theologically about my ministry. I am so grateful for the fact that my wife and I decided to move to Kansas City and live right in the community while finishing seminary. The relationships I have built with my professors are life-long. Many of them still encourage me to to this day. I am grateful for my Christian Education emphasis as it helped me understand the ministry of congregational discipleship. I am so thankful for my time at NTS!