New pastor won’t have to go far to face new challenges

Paul Juntunen, pictured here with his son, Levi, and wife, Kate, recently took over as Living Bible Church’s senior pastor. Before becoming senior pastor, Juntunen had been the youth pastor since 2000. Photo provided

Paul Juntunen, pictured here with his son, Levi, and wife, Kate, recently took over as Living Bible Church’s senior pastor. Before becoming senior pastor, Juntunen had been the youth pastor since 2000. Photo provided

Some faith leaders travel miles to take over new churches and lead congregations they have never met. That’s not nearly the case for Paul Juntunen. Still, this man faces his own challenges in transition.

Juntunen has become the new senior pastor at Living Bible Church in Austin. Since 2000, he has been the church’s youth pastor. It may seem a little odd for members and even Juntunen to go from leading teenagers to leading the entire congregation. Ask Juntunen, though, and he’s confident in himself. The time has come.

“That was my preference,” Juntunen said about always wanting to be lead pastor. “That’s what I felt I was meant to do.”

Living Bible’s most recent senior pastor, Bill Glaser, held his last service on Easter Sunday. For a while, Juntunen had been considering when to make the shift. He prayed about it, talked to his wife, Kate, and inevitably thought about the future situation for his family, including his son, Levi. Juntunen’s father was a pastor and moved to Austin while Juntunen was in high school. So there was already some influence.

The door of opportunity opened for Juntunen when Glaser finished as pastor

“It just happened to be the same church I was already in,” he said.

Furthermore, Juntunen already led some of his congregation through youth services and will continue with them on their faith journeys. Others he already knows, but he will gain new experience in leading them: parents, grandparents, relatives and friends of his former students. Regardless, Juntunen feels welcomed.

“The reception has been very positive,” he said. “The congregation is behind me.”

Like many churches do in Austin, Juntunen wants to create more mission trips, do more service work and encourage his congregation to have a bigger role in the community. While many youth groups take summer trips and help those less fortunate, get out of their comfort zones and face new challenges, that’s not always the case for longtime church-goers. Juntunen hopes to inspire.

“Those can be some great things for the adults to do, as well,” Juntunen said. “That’s stuff for everyone.”

Juntunen is convinced the church can be an “awesome, awesome” place. He wants to expound upon the positive qualities at Living Bible in what he already calls an exciting time for him and his congregation.

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