Garen Forsythe, Lead Pastor

After more than a year of surveying the church family regarding their preferences in a Lead Pastor, many search committee and deacon meetings, and lots of prayer, there was an affirmative vote on October 2 to appoint Garen Forsythe as our new Lead Pastor.  


about Garen

I am 54 years old and have been married for 32 years to my wife and partner, Pat. We have three of the most awesome children: a daughter Charissa (age 24); a daughter Ariel (age 23), and a son Kieran (age 21). My family is my life’s greatest joy!

I grew up in a post-Christian home and on the front edge of a post-modern shift in our culture, both of which greatly affect the ways in which I see and do ministry. I love the local church; the One who redeemed my life; holding and savoring a good book; sports; hanging out with my friends at the Granada Coffee Shop; the family cat, Kaya; listening to Rich Mullins; leaving it all on the racquetball court; learning; playing catch; eating a good steak; seeing a life changed; riding my bicycle; playing the drums; hiking; the High Plains and the Flint Hills of Kansas; the Colorado Rocky Mountains; the Denver Broncos, the Kansas Jayhawks, the San Antonio Spurs, and the Kansas City Royals; pizza, French vanilla ice cream, Mountain Dew, and DQ Oreo blizzards. Most importantly, I long to be a part of a Kingdom movement, where the lost come to find true life in Jesus and believers grow in the ability to experience, embody, and extend that Kingdom!

philosophy of ministry

The focal point of Jesus’ message was The Kingdom of God. Jesus was creating a movement of people who were entering into the Kingdom, growing in Kingdom life, and advancing the Kingdom. The church’s primary responsibility is to be a part of Jesus’ Kingdom Movement. God’s people are to be Kingdom people: people who abide with the King, experience the Kingdom internally, embody the Kingdom in their daily lives, and who advance the Kingdom. For this to happen, there needs to be (1) an integrated combination of attractional and missional outreach to those outside of the Kingdom and (2) a “reproducing of the life of Jesus” within the lives of his followers who are in the Kingdom (through ongoing and intentional discipleship through multiple means). Such a Kingdom movement needs to be centered on the Gospel of God’s Grace and have as it’s primary focus people and relationships over programs.

the new reality

We, in America and in Emporia, are at a very significant crossroads in our culture’s history. The number of “Nones” (people who claim no religious affiliation, with a majority of them having never been to a church) is increasing exponentially! Gen Z (born between 1995 and 2015) is the first generation in American history where the majority have never been to a church. We have reached a tipping point in our culture and in Emporia. I grew up a “None” before “Nones” even existed as a demographic. To this day, I still filter much of the way I perceive and do ministry through that grid. I have been, and remain, deeply committed to reaching lost people and am especially drawn to “Nones.” I feel that Twelfth’s next pastor must not only be aware of this cultural shift but also know how to operate within it. As 1 Chronicles 12:32 says, “The men of Issachar... understood the times and knew what [to] do [with those times].”  I believe I have a strong sense of the pulse of our current culture and think God has given me the learning, the opportunities, the skills, and the vision to reach out in these “times”.



When will Garen start?

Garen has asked that he delay his official start until January so he may finish the semester with the international student ministry. The Deacon board has approved this request. Jon Sapp, our Interim Pastor, has agreed to continue through the end of the year, and he and Garen will work in tandem for the remainder of the year. This likely will involve Garen beginning to attend some staff and deacon meetings. Details are still under discussion. An installation service will be held on January 6.

What will happen to the international student ministry?

Over the years, Garen has done his due diligence in seeking to raise up that next generation leader for the international student ministry.  Brandi Delmott has been positioned to do that but with another little one due in a few months, there is the need for further help.  FOCUS has a good base of volunteers who will assist Brandi in keeping things going during this next season of her life and ministry.  Moreover, this past summer, God brought to their attention a couple in whose hearts He was moving toward international student ministry.  Garen is still in conversation with this couple about the possibility of moving here and helping Brandi in working full time in the ministry.  Whether it is that couple of someone else, we trust that God will provide so that this crucial ministry to "the nations that God has brought to our doorstep" can continue!

Leadership transition is always difficult in any organization and the church is no exception. The simple reason is that it is by definition—change. Especially in the church, there is a need to discern between what needs to change and what cannot change. On the one hand, we must stand where God clearly stands and not waver. At the same time, the church must continually strive for relevance to our times—indeed that is a core value of TABC.

Garen Forsythe is a man of the Word with a firm grasp on God’s truth and the character to stand there. He has also intentionally stayed connected to the current trends and dynamics of our culture. I believe that Garen will bring this balance to the lead pastor role along with a unique understanding of TABC from his almost 30 years of involvement.

The future is as bright as the promises of God!

Warmly, Al Areheart