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Access Church |  Pastor Shaheen & Kasi Eydgahi

Access Church, located in North Branch, Minnesota, is a thriving church with a wonderful story of succession and leadership. From lead Pastor Shaheen Eydgahi, we hear great things about Access Church.

When he started at North Branch High School, Shaheen’s persistent friends eventually convinced him to attend youth group, where he found a sense of belonging and purpose. His journey toward faith took a significant turn during a trip to Acquire the Fire, where he dedicated his life to Christ.

When it came time for college, he faced a pivotal decision. Shaheen felt a calling toward ministry. However, he experienced disapproval from family members. This clash of expectations led him to briefly pursue pre-pharmacy studies before realizing that his true calling lay in ministry.

In 2005, Shaheen joined Access Church (then Abundant Life) as part of the worship team. Over the years, he became involved in various aspects of ministry, ultimately succeeding Kevin Haseltine as the lead pastor in July 2020.

Pastor Shaheen emphasizes the significance of a well-thought-out succession plan, drawing from his experience transitioning with Pastor Kevin. The church had a five-year plan that involved mentoring, decision-making inclusion, and Shaheen’s intentional involvement in various aspects of leadership. This careful planning ensured a smooth transition, and Shaheen commends Kevin for honoring his promise not to undermine the new leadership. The transition was not only a testament to the self-awareness of Kevin, but also to the importance of prioritizing the mission of the church over personal considerations.

Access Church ensures that its church services are welcoming to all. Pastor Shaheen recognizes the changing cultural landscape and plans to adjust service scheduling to better accommodate those interested in attending. Shaheen said, “As culture is changing away from Sunday mornings, we feel like we need to be with the times as well…” He envisions a move toward weekday church services based on the success they’ve experienced with alternative timing during the week.

Based on his experience, Shaheen offers valuable advice to pastors approaching transitions. For older pastors, he emphasizes the importance of self-awareness, recognizing when it might be time to hand over the reins. While there is no “magic age,” succession planning, as demonstrated by Pastor Kevin, is crucial for a church’s long-term health and impact.