Some bittersweet news…

Some bittersweet news…

Dear Park Church family and friends,

Easter is a reminder of God’s commitment to renewal. What God did for Jesus by raising him from the dead, He has promised to one day do for all creation and has begun to do in and through us, His people. And while it’s exciting to join God in doing a new thing; it can also be hard. Painful even. Change often is.

So it’s with a bittersweet feeling that I want to share some big news.

Matt Agresti, Park Church Associate Pastor of Worship and Communication (and so much more) recently accepted the call of Lead Pastor at Central Baptist Church in Atlantic Highlands, NJ. The decision to pursue this call came for Matt and his wife, Amanda, after a long season of discernment and prayer. Park Church leadership supports and affirms this call.

For many, myself included, this news is hard. To say that the Agrestis will be deeply missed doesn’t do justice. Matt and Amanda’s history within Park goes back to the very beginning, before Park Church, before Outreach Red Bank (ORB) – all the way back to when God called a group of grateful Christians to share the love and good news of Jesus with teenagers. In fact, Matt was among the group of young adults who first started ORB, and Amanda was one of the very first leaders in the high school ministry.  As ORB transformed into a church, Matt sensed a call to ministry – so he attended seminary, came on staff in various capacities, transitioned into being the associate pastor, and has faithfully led, preached, counseled, pastored, discipled, married, buried, problem-solved, prayed, made music, and served in countless other ways – all in the name of Jesus. His love for God, Park Church, and the world is unquestioned. Matt’s absence – their absence – will be felt deeply.

More personally, from day one, Matt has been a source of support, partnership, and friendship to me. There’s so much I will miss about serving alongside Matt. And I know for many in and around Park, the personal history with Matt, Amanda, and their kids goes back much further and runs much deeper.

This change means loss. Loss means grief. And grief is painful.

And yet, while this is hard, I also deeply believe that this news is truly good news for God’s Kingdom and that there is much to celebrate. Pastors regularly leave churches for unhealthy reasons, whether that’s due to financial problems, conflict, or moral failure. I’m grateful to say this is not one of those situations. We can have hope as we look to the future because Matt’s decision to leave Park to serve in another church was the result of a long process of discerning God’s call – a process he and Amanda did not walk alone. Matt feels called to lead a church in Monmouth County, and God has opened a door to do just that.

This means that Matt is not simply leaving. He’s being sent.

The fundamental question we should be asking is Will this transition further the work of the Kingdom and the spread of the gospel in an area that needs the hope of Jesus? Under Matt’s leadership, my answer is WITHOUT A DOUBT. This is good news. And therefore we should celebrate.

Undoubtedly this news raises questions. Not least of all How will we fill the massive hole Matt’s absence will leave behind? This is a good question. And a short-term continuity plan is already underway. Another, perhaps more pressing, question you may be wondering is How can we best support the Agrestis during this transition? 

Here are two ways:

1. Join us on Sunday, May 1st for the Agrestis’ final Sunday at Park Church.

Matt will preach his final sermon at Park, words of gratitude and blessing will be shared, we’ll cover them with prayer, and we’ll enjoy a time of meaningful activities, togetherness, and special treats after the service. If you are able, please come.


2. Pray.

We will take time to pray for the Agrestis on May 1st, but in the meantime, please be praying for the following:

  • For Park –to faithfully absorb this loss, while seeing new people step up into leadership roles.
  • For Central Baptist – to welcome Matt and his family, and for God to prepare them for this significant change.
  • For the Agrestis – as exciting as this is for them, it’s also difficult to leave behind a community that they deeply love.  Pray for them, and especially, for their children through this transition.

Thank you for your prayers. And thank you for considering joining us on May 1st. If you have any questions about this transition, please feel free to reach out to me.  Please feel free to reach out to Matt as well!

Grace and Peace,