The Rev. Jacob LeBlanc has had a successful career in pastoring, and is more than satisfied to call Our Savior’s Church in New Iberia home.
The senior pastor for Our Savior’s had an interesting journey in finding a home in New Iberia, and has a vision with the directional team of the church to see the organization reaching out to more and more people.
What’s your background in pastoring?
Pastoring is an honor. I don’t take it lightly. Being a “Pastor” is so much more than just preaching a message on Sunday. Being a pastor means loving people where they are. Jesus spent the majority of his time meeting people in their towns and meeting their needs. Our job as Christians is to be “Christ-Like.” No one is perfect and we can’t pretend like we are. So my goal as a pastor is to do what Jesus did. I’m not here to pastor a “church;” I’m here to pastor a CITY.
Personally, I’ve been pastoring for about 15 years. I started when I was about 19 years old. I came back to New Iberia from Bible School and started working at First Assembly of God in New Iberia under Pastor Paul Neel. I’ve served at a few different churches, in Dallas, Texas, Nashville, Tennessee and St. Louis, Missouri, as well as serving under the Rev. Paul Neel twice. I spent most of my time as a pastor to students.
Now, with the wisdom and guidance of the Rev. Jacob Aranza and the directional team at Our Savior’s Church, I know that I’m set up for success.
How did you come to be pastor at Our Savior’s?
That is a very interesting question. (My wife) Grace and I dreamed that we would be lead pastors one day. While we were at a church in St. Louis, we knew that transition was coming and we wanted our next step to be towards our dream. When a church in Destin offered us the path, we thought it would be a perfect fit. I mean, it’s DESTIN, FLORIDA. But coming out of a tough situation, the pastor asked us to come home to New Iberia to rest before joining them in Florida. While back in New Iberia, which was only supposed to be for a few weeks, Pastor Paul Neel and I had lunch. We did that often when I’d come back home and visit, since Pastor Paul was a father figure in my life. He shared with me what he had been feeling for a while, which was to retire and pass the church on to someone else. He asked me to be the next pastor. ME. It was one of the greatest honors of my life. But there was a problem … I was committed to another church, in Destin. I shared with Pastor Paul that the only way that this would work at all, was if my pastor in Destin released me. What Pastor Paul didn’t know was that the church in Destin was in relationship with Our Savior’s Church in the Lafayette area. When I spoke with my pastor in Destin and shared with him my history with Pastor Paul and the church, he released me. When I relayed that to Pastor Paul, I shared with him the relationship between the church in Destin and Our Savior’s Church. What I didn’t know was that Pastor Paul had already been in conversations with Pastor Jacob Aranza, Senior Pastor of Our Savior’s Church, for over a year before I ever came into the picture. Another cool connection is that Pastor Jacob Aranza used to be a part of First Assembly of God in New Iberia in the 80’s when Pop Neel was pastor. Pop would let him preach and minister at the church. Once the connections started to come together, the church voted for me to become the Senior Pastor and transition the church to become a campus of Our Savior’s Church.
What has leading this congregation been like?
I would be lying if I said it was easy. But nothing of value comes easy. The church has been led by a “Pastor Neel” for almost 50 years. Pastor Paul is a spiritual giant in my eyes. I can’t be him. I wouldn’t even want to try. He and I are different in a number of different ways and because of that, the church has been very gracious with me. I believe in the people that are still here. It took a ton of courage to trust Pastor Paul in naming me the next pastor.
What are you most proud of as pastor at Our Savior’s?
These people have rallied around the vision of reaching people and building lives. Our heart is to see our community better. The way that we do that is helping people know God through our weekend services. We’ve created a weekend service that is very different from what is expected at a typical church. Our church service is designed to be fun, engaging and impactful. We don’t “own the rights” to Jesus or Christianity, we just want to be a church that non-church people love to attend, and church people can’t stop talking about.
Where would you like to see the church headed in the next few years?
Honestly, that’s a loaded question. Our vision in one year will be the same as our vision in 10 years. We’re here to reach people, regardless of where they are on their spiritual journey. We want to be a place where regardless of your race, denomination, or political affiliation, you can call OSC New Iberia your home. We want to see people thriving in every area of their lives. That’s where we see our church headed.