Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bessemer City First Wesleyan Calls New Pastor

This past Sunday the congregation of Bessemer City First Wesleyan Church voted to extend a call to Pastor Wes Brown to serve as their Senior Pastor. Pastor Brown has accepted the call and will begin his ministry here in July.

The Transition Team developed the following Pastoral Profile based on all the work that has been done with the congregation over the last year.

Pastoral Profile (Spring 2008):

* Bessemer City First Wesleyan Church is looking for continued growth and desires a senior pastor who is willing to grow with us, to seek new challenges, and to explore creative methods of ministry.
* The senior pastor should be comfortable with and provide leadership for multiple style worship services.
* The senior pastor should also be prepared to lead the church as it transitions from a pastoral size model church to a program size model church.
* The senior pastor should be prepared to join lay leadership in moving toward and possible completion of a building program.

A recent congregational survey yielded the following characteristics and responsibilities as most important in our next pastor:

Characteristics of a Senior Pastor:
Srong Leader / Innovator / Encourager / Hands On Worker

Tasks and Responsibilities of a Senior Pastor:

Preaching/Teaching / Leadership/Vision / Prayer/Intercession / Evangelism/Outreach

Worship Style:

Traditional Service
More formal service
Choir, Pianist, future hopes of an Organist
Traditional hymns
Message is currently delivered by Senior Pastor

Contemporary Service/In House Church Plant
Informal Service
Praise team leads worship
Full band
Power Point is used to convey song lyrics & visual aides
Message is currently delivered by Senior Pastor

The transition team feels these services would be best served by having a pastor for each service who’s preaching style matches that service.

I have known Pastor Brown for eight years and have worked closely with him on a number of district projects. He is well respected across our district and has provided strong pastoral leadership in four previous congregations. It is my opinion that he is a very good match to this pastoral profile and am excited to have him coming to assume the mantle of pastoral leadership after my service as an intentional interim.

There have been developments in my personal plans for our intentional interim ministry as well. The next blog will share those plans that God has orchestrated.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Election Recommendations Approved

The annual meeting of the Local Church Conference met Sunday evening, April 20th. At the conference the following three recommendations from the Transition Team were approved with strong votes from the conference. These recommendations will take effective with next year's church elections.

a) Individuals will serve a maximum of three successive one year terms on the LBA. After a one year sabbatical individuals will be eligible to again be elected to the LBA. - 97% favorable vote.

b) The Sunday School Superintendent no longer be an ex-officio member of the LBA. - 86% favorable vote.

c) The LBA appoint a Business Manager that reports to the LBA and supervised by the Finance Committee rather the conference elect a Treasurer that serves on the board. - 81% favorable vote.

These votes show, in my opinion, the confidence the congregation has in the leadership of our Transition Team. Another indication of the this congregational confidence was expressed through our recent LBA elections. The congregation elected five new members to our nine member LBA. Of these five new LBA members, four of them are Transition Team members.

The current LBA selected the Transition Team and has been very supportive of the process. They have recently served as the Pastoral Search Committee and have brought a strong pastoral candidate to the congregation. The congregation will be voting this Sunday on this candidate. They are to be commended for an excellent year of leadership. Many pastors dread church board meetings. But I have looked forward to our meetings this year.

As the church has worked through our recent elections and are working through the pastoral selection process they have shown increasing spiritual maturity and church health. With each passing day my confidence grows that our intentional interim ministry has been a good thing for the congregation and that great days of Kingdom building lie ahead for them.

To God be the glory! Great things He has done (and is doing)!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Do You Really Want To?

Yesterday I started reading a book by William McConnell entitled: Renew Your Congregation (Healing the Sick, Raising the Dead). In the Introduction, McConnell says, "One of the most difficult church myths to deal with is the myth that churches want to grow." His premise is, and I think it is correct, that if churches really wanted to grow they would be making the necessary changes to grow. Most congregations are all talk and little action. The church growth that is wanted is limited and born from the selfish desire to have more money to pay the bills and to produce enough programming for the church to meet the perceived needs of those already attending.

This truth has bearing on intentional interim ministry. Congregations have to reach a point of desperation before they will acknowledge their need for intentional interim ministry and be willing to make the necessary changes that the process reveals are needed. In our denomination the District Superintendent has great influence in the connection of local congregations with potential pastors. It can almost become an "arranged marriage" on occasion. Church - here is your pastor. Pastor - here is your church. I have told our district superintendents that until a congregation realizes their need for intentional interim ministry we will see little fruit for our efforts. BTW - I still haven't had any contacts from any local churches about being their intentional interim pastor. But, with God's help, I am totally at peace and am trusting that He will open the right door at the right time.

The second chapter of the book is entitled: Start from Where You Are. McConnell says, "To get where you want to go, you must first know where you are." This is what the first task on intentional interim ministry, Coming to Terms with History, is all about. Along with the myth of wanting to grow, another problem in most churches is self deception. Those inside the congregation think they are one thing and everyone outside the congregation knows that are something entirely different. It takes courage to hold the mirror up so that you can see yourself for who you really are. It is my duty as an intentional interim to help congregations to muster the courage to hold the mirror up so that they can see who they really are. But it is also my delight to see the freedom that this act gives to congregations. Jesus said, "You shall know the truth and truth shall set you free."

This book promises to be a good read. I will keep you updated as I proceed through it.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Leadership and Decision Making Concerns

The Transition Team’s current task is to review leadership and decision-making concerns. The goal is to help the church to develop a structure and system that will enable more people to get involved in leadership and that the church can operate more effectively as it attempts to transition from the present operational model toward one that enables the church structure to function better as the congregation grows.

Therefore, the team is making the following three recommendations to the church conference on April 20th. All three of the following recommendations, if approved, will take effect with the elections of the LBA for the 2009-2010 conference year. Each recommendation will be voted on individually. The recommendations are:

a) Individuals will serve a maximum of three successive one year terms on the LBA. After a one year sabbatical individuals will be eligible to again be elected to the LBA.

Rationale: Term limits insure that there will be greater opportunity for more individuals to serve on the LBA without having the concern that once someone is elected they are “elected for life”.

b) The Sunday School Superintendent no longer be an ex-officio member of the LBA.

Rationale: This position is no more important than many other ministry director positions of the church that are not on the board. In the past some qualified candidates for the position have declined to serve because of the requirement to also serve on the LBA. The Sunday School Superintendent will continue to report and be accountable to the LBA.

c) The LBA appoint a Business Manager that reports to the LBA and supervised by the Finance Committee rather the conference elect a Treasurer that serves on the board.

Rationale: It is often difficult to find multiple qualified candidates to place on the annual election ballot. Having a Business Manager rather than a Treasurer would provide for continuity in the financial administration if recommendation A is approved.

These 3 recommendations are only part of the work the Transition Team is doing on the current task. They have also been divided into 3 committees to work on writing or reviewing various job descriptions for positions of leadership in the church. These positions include paid staff as well as volunteers. Some of our church committees have job descriptions from the denominational Discipline but there are several that function within the local church that are not referenced in the Discipline. These job descriptions will probably be a significant project for the team but very much needed to help clarify expectations and communication within the local congregation.