There’s a time for everything, including changes within church leadership.
Hays Hills Baptist Church recently experienced this change when David Sweet, lead pastor of 27 years, stepped aside to allow Pastor Aaron Kahler to lead the next generation. “I think Aaron’s gifts, personality and vision will lead us to reach even more young families and to shift our budget more to ministry and missions so that the gospel is heard and lived out for more people.” said Sweet, who is now the associate pastor at the church.
So who is the new pastor at Hays Hills?
Kahler was born in Midland to a religious family who helped cultivate his faith.
He completed his undergraduate studies in Bible and Biblical Languages at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene. He then completed his seminary education at the Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Fla. before serving as a pastor at Forest Glade Baptist Church in Mexia.
Kahler joined Hays Hills’ staff in 2011 as Minister of Children until 2015 when he began serving in dual capacity as a Teaching Pastor.
Sweet said Kahler is an “outstanding preacher and communicator” that has a high view of scripture and “deep convictions about what obedience to Christ looks like.”
“Although he’s young and connects well with young families, he’s also an old-soul who likes for us to sing the doxology and he preaches like a classic preacher, instead of someone trying to be hip,” Sweet said.
Sweet said Kahler served as an elder alongside him and several others for the last five years. He said the elders got to know his “heart, his theological depth and ministry’s maturity.”
Earlier this year, Kahler was selected by the church elders to serve as Lead Pastor. “I sensed that God was changing the focus on my ministry and at the same time that God was calling Aaron as our primary preacher and pastor,” Sweet said.
Changing of the guard
The decision to give up a leadership role was difficult for Sweet, but the trust and admiration between the two pastors, as well as the trust in their own faith, has helped the transition go smoothly.
Kahler said church elders believed the proposed transition would make the best use of both men’s gifts. Kahler said Sweet’s passion is for shepherding, developing small groups and leading outreach ministries. His passion is shepherding through preaching and vision.
“The proposed transition allows us to combine our gifts in a way that affords me time to study, preach, and cast vision while David counsels, promotes discipleship, and oversees small groups,” Kahler said.
He added the changes of leadership are indicative of some changes within the church. Kahler said the mission at Hays Hills is bringing “life-changing hope to an ever-changing people through the unchanging gospel.”
“We’re committed to reaching those around us and acknowledge that as people around us change, we have to be open to change as well,” Kahler said. “One thing we don’t change, one thing that will never change, is the good news of Jesus Christ that brings hope and salvation to a world that desperately needs it,” Kahler said.
Kahler explained that there are currently two main points of emphasis for the church.
One is seeking to have 20 percent of the budget allocated to missions and evangelism. The other point is creating a culture within the church in which every member is not only praying for the salvation of non-believers, but also for opportunities to share the gospel with them.
“We believe that as we’re faithful to pray for the salvation of those around us and for the chance to speak into their lives the truth about Jesus,” said Kahler. “We’ll see the hope of Jesus enter into the lives of our neighbors, co-workers, family members, and friends.”
As the new Lead Pastor, Kahler understands church can be an “intimidating place to visit,” but that all are welcome.
“We gather on Sundays to worship Jesus and study the Bible. It’s our prayer, as we look at God’s word together each week, we would grow in our knowledge of God, so we might know the hope of Christ and the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe,” said Kahler.