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#LiftMyPastor honors bivocational Brooklyn pastor

BROOKLYN, N.Y. (BP) — The around-the-clock work of a pastor often goes unnoticed. In conjunction with Pastor Appreciation Month last year, the North American Mission Board invited churches and individuals to take to social media and share what they appreciate about their pastor.

From postings on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #LiftMyPastor, Nathan Tubbs, pastor of Cornerstone Church of Bay Ridge in Brooklyn, N.Y., was chosen to host a free concert by recording artists Shane and Shane.

Tubbs serves bivocationally as Cornerstone’s pastor and as a science teacher in New York City’s public school system — managing the two jobs while nurturing a healthy environment at home with his wife Lesley and two children.

“Church planting really wasn’t on the radar,” Tubbs said, “until I came to New York City for a church planting internship during seminary.”

Tubbs received a bachelor’s degree in marine biology from Auburn University in Alabama. “If you had asked me in college or even in the first year of seminary, I would have told you that my marine biology degree was going to be used as a platform for missions somewhere in the 10/40 window [of lands in Asia and Africa with little or no Gospel awareness]. That’s really where my wife and I were leaning. We were looking specifically at East Africa.”

The couple began to pursue their dream of moving to Africa but God closed the door as Lesley developed some serious health issues after a trip to the continent in 2007.

“We then started looking at moving to New York to plant a church, but the question was always, How are we going to even get there? We can raise a bunch of money, but is that really sustainable for us to be in this endless fundraising circuit? We began to ask, Why don’t we find a way to become integrated in the community with something that is sustainable job-wise?

“Someone pushed me toward education, and I found a fellowship in New York City that took people without education degrees and put them in the classroom with full salary and full benefits.” Tubbs subsequently received his second master’s degree in education and became a sixth-grade science teacher.

“We are not heavily staffed at Cornerstone Church,” Tubbs said. “From about 8 a.m. to 2:20 p.m. I am a teacher, and when I’m not at school, I am a pastor.”

He spends weekends, lunch breaks, breakfasts and afternoons working on pastoral duties. “I like the term bivocational, but it can give the appearance that you sort of work two part-time jobs. It really is working two full-time jobs.”

Lesley faithfully gave her support to Tubbs through seminary and has been leading the women’s ministry at Cornerstone and playing in the worship band.

In 2014, Lesley was diagnosed with chronic myeloid Leukemia. She also developed lupus shortly after, but even with health issues, Lesley has stood ready to support others. “I have a great wife. She does whatever it takes for the church and our family,” Tubbs said.

The Shane and Shane concert was shared with the entire Cornerstone congregation in April. Not only did it serve as an act of appreciation for Tubbs, but the church also turned it into an outreach project, inviting their neighbors to join in a night of celebration and worshipping God.

“Our church is not large, but it’s cool to see the diversity of our congregation on a Sunday,” Tubbs said. “That’s just what New York City is — a diverse area, and our church reflects that. We just try to remind people this is what heaven is going to be like.”