Brothers and Sisters of Gethsemane,
At our congregational meeting on February 23, Andy Evans updated you on the search committee’s efforts. One step I had taken was to reach out to several pastors for counsel on the documents we had drafted as well as other aspects of our search. I updated you all on the counsel I’d received to that point, noting that there was agreement on some important points.
I’ve since gotten further feedback, and that has agreed with the advice I’d already received. I want to update you on the direction of our search; and since we may not be meeting on Sundays for a while, I didn’t want to wait.
A Reminder on the Purpose of This Search
There are two primary reasons we are undertaking this search for an additional pastor-elder. First, both the church and I have reached the point where we can’t continue with the status quo for pastoral leadership. Second, we want to be faithful to the New Testament’s instructions concerning a plurality of pastors-elders in the local church.
We can cite additional reasons: pulpit supply for Sundays I can’t or won’t be at church; the flock needs to be shepherded more than it’s being shepherded right now; the need for expertise in areas where I’m weak; support in leading worship; etc. In general, those reasons fall under “the church has reached the point…” It’s also wise to recognize that a day will come when I will no longer be the pastor, and a planned transition with a pastor who is already part of the church is better all around.
But it’s those two primary reasons we need to remember.
Searching for a Lead Pastor
With this in mind, based on the counsel I’ve received, and with the support of the search committee, I believe God is leading us to search for a full-time lead pastor.
Proverbs 24:6 says “In abundance of counselors there is victory.” Several common threads of the counsel I received moved me in this direction. Any degree of pastoring brings with it a full-time level of accountability. Even in a co-pastor situation where I had fewer week-to-week responsibilities, that level of responsibility coupled with a full-time technology position is more than I can sustain and, according to the counsel I received, more than God expects of me.
The possibility of me becoming the full-time pastor has been re-raised. I don’t believe God is calling me to that ministry. More significantly than that, it wouldn’t address either of the two primary purposes that we began the search.
There are also challenges with the idea of bringing on a full-time associate pastor. I was cautioned by several pastors that the wrong person in such a position will end up being more work, not less. It also doesn’t position that individual for success if they are the one in full-time ministry and being asked to lead in certain ways but not really being the leader.
By bringing on a full-time lead pastor, we give God’s man the greatest chance for success. It’s clear who we will follow moving forward. And, I believe, God will use it for His glory and for the spiritual well-being of all of us.
Right now we are making minor changes to the Church Profile and Job Description documents which reflect this direction, and we will post for the position in the near future. At that point the search committee will begin its process of screening and interviewing candidates.
Beyond that, nothing else will change in how Gethsemane functions week-to-week for what will probably be several months.
When the new pastor starts, I plan to move into what’s often called a “lay elder” role, preaching as regularly as makes sense, possibly teaching more than I’m able to now, and working to disciple the church and, if God wills, to see other men raised up as elders. I will stop taking a housing allowance and will resume working 5 days a week at my technology position.
How You Can Help
Most importantly, remember that this is not about me. It’s not primarily about Gethsemane. It’s about seeing the name of our Savior proclaimed; it’s about all of us falling more in love with Him. I pray that we all keep that in mind going forward.
Further, if you want to discuss this or express any concerns you have, please call me or come by our house or pull me aside at church. Going back two years, when I explained the physical and mental challenges I’d been having, I’ve tried to be transparent about where I’m at and about what we’re trying to do as a church. I don’t want that to stop now. Don’t feel like you can’t saying anything for fear of being a fly in the ointment. If you express your thoughts and concerns humbly and in love, and if in God’s grace I can hear them humbly and with love, I know we can work through the situation together.
Finally, the church, the search committee, and I need your prayers. Pray for endurance for the search committee. Pray for humility and wisdom on my part. Pray that God makes it so clear what He’s doing and who He wants to be our pastor that it is easy for us to unite around and support that man.
This is not a decision I arrived at lightly (or even expected to arrive at). When the process started, I was open-minded to a number of possibilities. I didn’t think this would end up being one of them. Though I can’t perfectly know my own heart, the Lord has given me peace about this direction.
Thank you so much for all your prayers, support, and kindness. I love you all. You truly are men and women of whom the world is not worthy.
Soli Deo Gloria,
March 16, 2020