Posted by: Rodney Shaw | November 4, 2009

An Update on New Life Church

A friend of mine pointed me to some conversations that were taking place on chat forums concerning the pastoral transition that is happening at New Life Church. I am somewhat humbled that anyone outside of Austin would care about our church. I am also somewhat concerned about the false assumptions that some have made. I am amazed that people have so much time and motivation to evaluate what God is doing somewhere else. But for the record, here are the details from our church website :

Last Sunday night [October 25], we elected Rodney Shaw as pastor of our church by a vote of 99 percent. From now to the end of this year, he and I will work together much as we have been working. Both of us will be available for pastoral counseling and decision-making. All reports to the pastor should go to both of us.
Beginning January 1, 2010, he will assume most of the daily authority and responsibility as pastor, as I will assume full-time responsibilities as general superintendent of the United Pentecostal Church International. He and I will serve together as co-pastors through June 30, 2011, to allow time to finish our building program and capital campaign.
Beginning July 1, 2011, he will be the sole senior pastor, and I will become bishop, defined as advisory pastor. I will be available to preach, teach, and counsel as requested. I will have an office at church, sit on the church board, and receive a small income from the church.
It is unfair for those outside of our church to understand fully what this means. They only have their own experience to draw from, so let me provide some clarifying points:
1. We are defining “bishop” as “advisory pastor.” This means that Bro. Bernard, as the founding pastor, will be available to me for advice, counsel, preaching, or whatever I deem is needed. He will serve at my pleasure.
 2. This is not an attempt by Bro. Bernard to retain control over the church. The decision to keep him in this advisory role was my decision. He was prepared to have no ongoing input and no ongoing compensation from the church, including any retirement or expense reimbursement, even though he is the founding pastor. He offered to give up his office and work from home. I do not “have to” seek his approval for future decisions. However, I insisted that we keep him connected to our church. It would be foolish of me not to have his input and advice.
 3. This is not an attempt for Bro. Bernard to have a “nest egg.” Any compensation Bro. Bernard will receive will be minimal, about the equivalent of a part-time employee at a coffee shop. He will only be paid for services rendered to the church, and he will not receive retirement apart from this compensation. No work, no pay. This was his decision. He is not a greedy man. He is more interested in the solvency of the church, including our ability to hire more staff, than he is in his own financial security. This will not be the first time I have received more income from the church than he has.
 I realize that it is easy to assume how others make decisions based on one’s own history, experience, and desires. However, any further assumptions about the arrangement at New Life is mere speculation. The misinformation that is on the Internet is devoid of facts and is based in a mischaracterization of Bro. Bernard and a misunderstanding of our relationship as it has been forged over 17 years of ministry together. I expect this will not be the last time some will be surprised by Bro. Bernard.
We all would do well to follow the New Testament admonitions concerning speech, which includes what we say about others in all forms of communication. If anyone has questions, they are welcome to contact me directly. 


  1. Brother Shaw,
    Let me reiterate the comments from F. Joe Ellis a dear friend and associate of mine. Your structure is divine and your leading id of the Spirit. Some others will never understand but this does not discredit your direction in any way. I am thrilled to meet others who are multi-congregational. I wish every God called man was overseeing four or five works.


    Larry Schoonover

    Follow us on Twitter

  2. Dear Bro Shaw, let me personally commend both you and Bro. Bernard for your willingness to function in a very biblical order and structure. The office of a Bishop is in fact how you described it should ffunction. It’s NOT a position of retirement for the purpose of maintaining control or financial security. It it however a very important office God has placed in the church for spiritual advise and oversight. It can’t be an elected position because you can’t elect spiritual authority? The bishop is a spiritual father to sons in the gospel he has raised up and mentored. He provides a spiritual covering to his sons in the gospel and to the churches they pastor.

    As for compensation… That is no ones buisness but the church in Austin. I commend Bro Bernard for his wishes to not recieve anything. I highly commend you however for not allowing that to happen. The church will be greatly blessed by staying in biblical order and having that God ordained Bishop stay in his rightful place providing a spiritual covering over that church. Any true God ordained bishop knows his place and would never abuse his office. At the same time, any wise son always knows the value and wisdom that their elder and Bishop provides to them that no other person on planet earth can provide… Regardless of who they are. As the founder of that work, for the church to not honor him for his years of sacrifice to raise that work up would be very wrong.

    As one who has served as a bishop now for the past 13 years… The best advice I can give you as you lead the church in Austin is this… Please God… And you’ll please everyone that matters!

    F. Joe Ellis

    ps: I’m typing on my mobile from Kiev, Ukraine so please excuse any typo’s or grammar errors.

  3. Another survey idea: How many pastors, leaders, evangelists have a full Biblical education? What percentage of them have actually graduated from a school with a Theological emphasis? Of those, how many are “Apostolic” schools?

  4. Anyone that would make those kind of assumptions do not know you or Bro. Bernard very well. Having been a member of the South Texas District for 7 years, we know Bro. Bernard’s integrity and selflessness. (and yours also)
    We desire God’s blessings upon both of you and your work for the kingdom.

  5. Grace & Peace Pastor Shaw, congratulations on the Pastorate. I am praying for you and Bishop Bernard in the transition.

    It saddens my heart when you have leaders who have stood for integrity for such periods of time and people would even think of questioning or rumoring such about Godly men. Your records speak for themselves. It was very honorable of you to address this issue. I am sure you and Bishop Bernard will continue to be true Apostolics; men of integrity.

  6. As a New Life member, I was pleased to see that most – if not all – of this speculation was occurring outside of our local congregation. I was saddened as well by those who chose to fill any gaps in knowledge with suspicion, particularly for a man such as Brother Bernard who has lived a transparent life of dedication and service.

    Thank you for addressing this, and I encourage anyone inside or outside of New Life to contact the church office directly if they have questions, rather than relying on external sources. If I can’t trust these men and the church board to handle this affair with integrity, I would not place my eternal soul under their care!

  7. If someone out there actually thinks that Bro. Bernard OR Bro. Shaw have a desire to gain something for themselves, they have no idea of who these men really are.

    I have seen them first hand for many years, and have not found men more serving and humble.

    In case one doesn’t know, the greatest leaders are always the biggest servers.

  8. An old Middle Eastern proverb used where applicable:

    Let the dogs bark; the caravan moves on.

  9. I am personally pleased how you addressed this. On the one hand, stifling rumors is indeed, important, and you recognize these matters are not simply trivial (at least in the minds of the saints in Austin). On the other hand, it’s unfortunate that you had to.

  10. Bro. Shaw,

    Congratulations on becoming the new pastor. God bless in all you do.

    Danny Davis
    South Africa

  11. That there is any confusion about this at all is mind boggling.

    It is a reminder to me of how blessed I am to be part of New Life. Apparently, what we consider to be normal and healthy relationships among leaders and with a church family is not as common as I’d hoped.

    I wonder what could be accomplished for God if we didn’t care who got credit?

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