Dave Stone & Kyle Idleman

Dave Stone prays with Kyle Idleman after formally announcing him as the new senior pastor of Southeast Christian Church during weekend worship services March 9-10.

It’s the next step.

In September, Southeast Christian Church Senior Pastor Dave Stone announced his intention to hand off the senior pastor position to Teaching Pastor Kyle Idleman in six to nine months.

During weekend worship services March 9-10, Stone officially welcomed Idleman as Southeast’s new senior pastor.

Idleman was met with applause when he walked onto the platform, and Stone and Idleman hugged.

“Our staff sees Kyle as an exceptional leader, and I’m anxious for you all to get to see him in that role,” Stone told the congregation. “Kyle’s commitment to Christ, his love for his family, his generosity, his humility, the way he has handled success at a young age are things that are rare to find in the Evangelical world.”

Idleman joined Southeast’s staff 17 years ago. Stone said he is excited to see Idleman take the lead.

“Being in the second seat isn’t always easy to do, especially when he has done it for 17 years, but he has done it with loyalty, with honor and with class. He has encouraged me and he has waited patiently,” Stone said. “I wouldn’t have stayed as senior pastor of this church—for even my second year—if it hadn’t been for Kyle Idleman.”

Stone will preach four more sermons at Southeast in the next 10 weeks. His last sermon will be Memorial Day weekend, May 25-26.

“I will be on staff supporting Kyle in any and every way that I can for the next couple of months,” Stone said.

Stone encouraged the congregation to pray for Kyle as he begins his journey as senior pastor.

“I know that he will point all of us back to Jesus Christ and back to God’s Word,” Stone said. “It is important for us to be united moving forward.”

Idleman said he is excited to be Southeast’s senior pastor.

“I’m beyond words humbled and thankful—so thankful for God and His grace—to be a part of what God has done here the past 17 years and to be part of what God is going to do,” Idleman said.

Idleman first met Stone as a sophomore in high school at a student conference where Stone was speaking.

“I’m so thankful that God has allowed our paths to come together for the last number of years,” Idleman said. “Dave has been the ultimate example for me in ministry of humility, of integrity, of loving other people, and I am incredibly grateful for being able to follow someone who has that kind of reputation and foundation and has shown me how to do it.”

Idleman said that since Stone became senior pastor in 2006, he gave him opportunities most senior pastors would not—inviting him to be an elder and sharing preaching duties with him.

“This is all about Jesus,” Idleman said. “We both know that God could use anybody He wants to do this. It’s not because we’ve earned it or we deserve it or because we’ve worked hard enough … it is all God’s grace. We want that to be our focus.”

Stone closed the service by praying for Idleman, his family and his future as senior pastor.

“Lord, I pray for Kyle as he goes through this time of transition and takes this helm that You will use him in a powerful way and may he do twice as much as anything that has ever been done before,” Stone prayed. “May Your Spirit be on him in a fresh and powerful way. I pray that You would give him discernment and wisdom for the tough decisions that he has to make. I pray more than anything else that he will be at peace and know that You are God and You are on Your throne—and You are still the One who runs this church.”