New guy in town

Pastor Michael Johnston, who moved to Clovis from Big Spring, Texas, said he plans on creating a “family focused church” at Central Christian Church where families sit and worship together. CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth

By Tonya Garner: CNJ staff writer

A self-proclaimed “wanderer,” Michael Johnston is the new pastor at Central Christian Church.

Johnston comes to the Clovis church from Big Spring, Texas, via Seattle. He said he spent most of his life moving around due to his father’s federal job. “We moved every couple of years,” he said.

“I truly believe Clovis is where we belong now,” said Johnston, who has been married for six years. “We have gotten an overwhelmingly good response from the congregation.”

Johnston came highly recommended by people who have heard him preach, according to church elder Lewis Heisch.
“We needed a young pastor,” Heisch said. “Our core group is over 70.”

Heisch said the congregation wanted to do something before the church died out.

Johnston, 32, said he believes family plays an important role in church.

“I met Heidi (my wife) at church,” he said. “She is a huge part of our prayer ministry.”

Johnston said his plans for the church include creating a “family focused church” where families sit and worship together.

According to Johnston, there are five generations of worshipers at Central Christian. His goal is to bring in a worship ministry that will respect all five generations and still be pleasing to God.

Heisch said that Johnston has already begun to accomplish the goal of appealing to all generations. “He has a knack for preparing sermons that bring us all together,” Heisch said.
From the age of 11, when he spent his summer vacations watching televangelists, Johnston said he wanted to go into the ministry.

He spent his college years ministering in the inner city and attended a youth rally in 1996 where he spoke for the first time about the word of God.

“I knew at that moment that I wanted to be a pastor,” he said.
Heisch said Johnston’s previous youth work is one reason he was hired as pastor. “We are hoping to pick up more youth,” Heisch said. “Michael has successfully worked with troubled with youth in the past.”

Johnston said he is still getting a feel for his new church, but he plans to create a “come-as-you-are atmosphere.”

“We are more concerned about people and their relationship with Christ, than how they appear,” he said.
Heisch echoed Johnston’s statement. “We don’t care about clothes, tattoos or piercings,” Heisch said. “Everyone is welcome if they want to know Jesus.”

Central Christian currently has about 70 worshipers in attendance on Sunday mornings but hopes to fill the 300 seat sanctuary with people from all walks of life.

According to Heisch, the congregation is already gaining in numbers.