Winter 2021 Update

Pastoring is a Hard Job

Welcome to 2021! Last year was quite a year for church leaders.  Pastoring is a hard job that is made even harder by Covid-19.  Overseed is privileged to come alongside New England pastors to encourage them to persevere and thrive.  We do this by helping pastors think more deeply about ministry, to understand the why behind the what, so they are more intentional about leading their churches forward.

Coaches are critical to the success of our pastor cohorts.  We’re grateful for their investment in kingdom-work around their regions while carrying the heavy load of leading their own churches.  They give at least four hours out of their monthly schedules to invest in other pastors, passing on what they have learned about ministering in New England.  They provide encouraging space where pastors can be honest about the challenges and joys of leading a church.  They help build peer relationships.  This intentional work contributes to long term successful pastorates and healthy New England churches reaching their communities for Christ.

Thank you for praying and financially supporting this effort,

Dr. Jim Harrell


Ministry Updates


Initiating in a Season of Isolation

For a year and a half, Hunter Guthrie has served as Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Medfield, MA.  He began this historic church’s new chapter in 2019 with passion for teaching and preaching God’s grace. Having grown up in the Bible-belt, he was thrilled by the opportunity to minister in New England among the unchurched. In his first six months in Medfield, the small congregation added 3-4 people per month. Momentum was building. Then Covid-19 arrived.

“Medfield is where Bostonians move when they’re ready to start a family,” according to Hunter. “It’s a pretty town with great schools, lots of young families. It’s socially-connected but not especially religious.” So, when they arrived in their new town, Hunter and his wife Meredith were intentional about meeting people. In a community of young families, the playground was the perfect place. Together with their little daughter, they were able to connect with other people in authentic, simple ways.

Hunter joined a local running club and his network expanded. He said “running lends itself to conversation. It’s a great way to get to know people.” Medfield has a solid social structure of networking events for townspeople. Hunter attended these events to connect with locals. He and Meredith invited people to their home, hosted dinners at the church. People responded and were checking out the church, sticking around.

Then something counter-intuitive to church culture happened. In March, churches stopped gathering in person. Pastors like Hunter had to pivot ministry models because people no longer came to church. Leaders were forced to spend enormous energy responding to quickly-evolving Covid-19 guidelines.

Like most New England churches, FBC Medfield had a high value on gathering in person to stay connected. Due to the pandemic, the majority of the people who were attending the church back in March are not coming on Sunday mornings now. Most of those faithful seniors need to worship online for safety reasons.

Hunter had to rethink ministry expectations and connections. He reflected that “man makes plans and God laughs. But, Covid didn’t catch God by surprise.” The plans this pastor had a year and a half ago have shifted. Now, he says, “we plan in two-month chunks.”  He still reaches out to parishioners and tries to connect with townspeople. “One of the secret blessings of this time is that it’s forced us to have deeper conversations and given us opportunities to show we care. You see what you had when it’s taken away.”

This has certainly been a very challenging year for pastors across the country. More than ever, they need connections with other leaders trying to minister in this season of isolation. Hunter appreciates being part of an Overseed pastor cohort which he described as “a community of like-minded pastors in similar situations. We encourage each other, share resources like video-production or pulpit supply when a pastor needs time off. We pray for one another and offer creative ideas for challenging situations.” 

The Pandemic requires all of us to approach relationships differently. Loneliness is a real and growing problem. Large numbers of people are isolated. Many have not returned to church since last March. It’s time to move beyond responding to the changes Covid brought and be intentional about initiating relationships.  Let’s reach out and see what the world looks like from other people’s perspectives. Listen and take the time to draw out someone. It's rare to find a person that is genuinely interested in others. Be that person. New and healthier relationships aren’t going to happen by accident. We must be intentional.



Overseed Coach Network

We are grateful for the growing Overseed pastor coaching network.  Please pray for our coaches as they invest in New England pastors.


Talking With People Who Get It

Matt Furr is passionate about the mission of God in New England. He’s the Lead Pastor of CenterPoint Church in Concord, NH and, for the past three years, has coached an Overseed pastor cohort with Mark Warren of Grace Capital Church in Pembroke, NH. They are both intentional about creating a safe space for the ten cohort pastors to ask hard questions, wrestle with challenges and grow in faith.

When asked about coaching during the pandemic, Matt quickly replied “people are tired of connecting on zoom and just exhausted from it all. Everyone is living in crisis mode, so everything feels like a crisis. People are scrambling. It’s hard to prioritize normal things because there are so many distractions.” Yet, he knows connecting with pastors is worth it. People are hungry for it. So, he and Mark have tried connecting the cohort through texting, a Facebook group, in-person gatherings when they can, and praying for one another. Matt commented, “honestly, it’s been hard to keep up during Covid. Coaching is about listening and paying attention. Fly-bys really don’t do it!”

How can a coach be intentional during Covid? Matt laughed “best-laid plans…, right?! Church leaders are now spending tremendous amounts of time on short-term issues due to pandemic regulations. The exhaustion for church staff is real. Focusing on the soul of the pastor is critical right now. In the safe space of a cohort, we can talk about being healthy pastors and we’re intentional about how we talk about struggles.”

Asked what he has learned as a pastor coach, Matt commented “that I can only do so much. I am not friends with my limits. I’m working on that. Part of God’s invitation to me is to trust Him more. I’m also learning to find grace with myself. Coaching is an invitation to graciously trust.”

Pastors have to invest in self-care and ministry partnerships. Matt said “it seems counter-intuitive that you have to stop working so you can be better at your work. We must work on ourselves. We can’t be present for others unless we do that. Self-care is the gift we give ourselves, our families, our congregations and our communities.”

He noted that co-coaching with Mark has “been phenomenal! We have a growing friendship. We both pastor in the same area so we had met before, but it was Overseed that brought us together to co-lead a NH pastor cohort.”

The NH cohort is looking at the relationships a pastor needs to navigate ministry and stay healthy amid the stress of change. Leadership is grueling. Matt noted that “Cohorts give pastors space to talk about the real world. As pastors, we are asked to pay costs that are unique and very hard. It really helps to talk with people who get it.”

Their cohort will be reading a book on adaptive leadership called Tempered Resilience: How Leaders Are Formed in the Crucible of Change by Tod Bolsinger. “When reflection and relationships are combined into a life of deliberate practice, leaders become both stronger and more flexible. As a result, these resilient leaders are able to offer greater wisdom and skill to the organizations they serve.

That is Overseed’s goal. All to the glory of God.


Prayer Requests


Please Pray

• For pastors to be healthy and intentional about leading their churches well during this pandemic and beyond
• For additional Overseed coaches to lead new pastor cohorts around New England.
• For Overseed's financial support. To partner with us, please click on the giving button on the top right of this newsletter.



In This Issue


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