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May was a busy month for the search team and elders as we made more than 20 joint visits with Adult Communities and leaders from Kid Connection, Jr. High, and Sr. High and held two separate forums between services. Our last forum on Sunday May 21 provided the opportunity for the search team to share the insights and input received from all of these sessions. Here are a few of the takeaways:
The general consensus is that the Ministry Description & Qualifications for the Senior Pastor position as framed by the search team and elders is a sound reflection of the congregation’s desires in this individual.
- A unanimous voice was heard that he should be a strong preacher and expositor of God’s word who challenges believers, calls the unbeliever, and mobilizes the body to fulfill our mission of Make, Mature and Multiply through the Gospel message.
- That he should be a passionate and compassionate man of God who understands that we are all broken sinners in need of the gospel’s transformative message of grace, forgiveness, and justification through faith
- The average senior pastor search takes 9 to 18 months. We will utilize a professional search firm if, at the end of July, we believe we’re not being successful in identifying and qualifying candidates. UPDATE: To date, the search is going extremely well with several candidates in various stages of the process, so the July target date for bringing in a search firm may end up being extended.
Recommendations to the search team:
- Don’t try and please everyone
- Don’t be held hostage to the past
- The new senior pastor can’t be everything to everyone
If you missed any of the sessions be sure to stop a search team member for a personal update. We love to share what’s going on.
The team is so appreciative of all the encouragement and support, particularly the prayers from everyone. This is such a critical time for us but God is at work in the body unifying us and giving us direction and hope.
We know there is no such thing as over communicating so we’ll work hard to provide frequent updates here, in the service every third Sunday of each month, and in the halls as you meet us. Remember, you can also reach us through email at email@example.com.
The Senior Pastor Search Team
5/17/17: Forum Reminder
We will be having a 25-minute forum THIS Sunday, May 21, in the Activity Center from 10:15 to 10:40 am. The Search Team will provide the congregation an opportunity for dialogue and input. We will end in time for everyone to attend the second hour of worship or their second hour Adult Community.
We encourage you to join us!
5/10/17: Prayer Requests
Any endeavor such as this one requires a lot of prayer! Would you come alongside the Senior Pastor Search Team in prayer? Here are their requests:
- Pray for wisdom and discernment to find the right person for our church. (See James 1:5 – If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.)
- Pray that as the search team begins networking, several solid possibilities will emerge in the first three months. (See Jeremiah 3:15 – Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding.)
- Pray for unity in the church body as well as in the search committee. (See Acts 4:32 – All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.)
- Pray for the search team to hear the guiding of the Holy Spirit clearly. (See John 16:13 – But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.)
- Pray for guidance for Don and John in their roles as co-pastors in the interim. (See Psalm 24:4-5 – He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. He will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God his Savior.)
- Pray for protection against Satan’s schemes to steal, kill, and destroy. (See Ephesians 6:10-11 – Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.)
- Pray for our church to be ready to receive the senior pastor that the Lord brings. (See Hebrews 3:17 – And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert?)
Thank you for your prayers!
4/10/17: Search Committee Update
At the February 12, 2017, congregational meeting the members of First Free Church approved the search team candidates for the senior pastor search. The nine-member team has been working diligently in preparation of identifying the man that God has planned for First Free. The committee members are Julie Bono, Lauren Standeford, Sandy Pritchard, Sam Li, Sean Heskett, Mark Vigil, Brad Blake, Dave Williams, and Bob Richter (chair).
(Top Row: Sam Li, Sean Heskett, Brad Blake, Dave Williams, Sandy Prichard)
(Bottom Row: Bob Richter, Julie Bono, Lauren Standeford, Mark Vigil)
Everyone is excited about getting the search going quickly, yet the wisdom we’ve received from experience is to “plan thoroughly”. Like any project worth doing well, the more you invest in preparation the better the finished product will be, and this is no different. As a new team, we have been working in collaboration with the elders to document the qualifications, characteristics, and responsibilities of the position as defined biblically in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. The Ministry Description draft will be made available for review, input, and discussion at the Search Team Q&A session between services (10:15 – 10:40 am) on Sunday, April 23 in the Activity Center, and at the Search Team Forum the evening of Sunday, April 23 in the Chapel at 7:00 pm.
Over the next several weeks the elders and search team members will also be partnering to visit Adult Community classes, Small Group sessions, and adult leaders in Kids Connection, Jr. High, and Sr. High to have an open dialogue about the search team effort and gain additional insight. We look forward to the discussion.
It is an exciting time for First Free. God has blessed us with two wonderful interim leaders with John and Don and the body is stepping up serving and ministering well. If you would like to contact the Senior Pastor Search Team, please feel free to reach out via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can contact Bob Richter directly at 314.315.2800.
We will be having 25-minute forums on Sunday, April 23, and Sunday, May 21, in the Activity Center from 10:15 to 10:40 am. The Search Team will provide the congregation an opportunity for dialogue and input. We will end in time for everyone to attend the second hour of worship or their second hour Adult Community.
There will also be an extended time of prayer (and an opportunity for more dialogue) during another forum at 7:00 pm on Sunday, April 23, in the Chapel.
We encourage you to join us!
On Sunday, January 15, Pastor Bill announced that he would be transitioning from his role as Senior Pastor at First Free to a missionary role.
Bill and Carol will serve with the mission ministry of the Evangelical Free Church, called ReachGlobal. They will be staying in St. Louis, and First Free will continue to be their home church when they are not traveling.
Bill will transition his responsibilities in stages. This will allow him to transition smoothly into his new role as a First Free missionary by gradually adding the ReachGlobal training, networking, and support raising duties that will be required in his new role as a First Free missionary. This staged transition will allow First Free to find the right people to assume his Senior Pastor responsibilities in a timely way while maintaining all its other ministries.
The first stage of the transition will occur on February 13, 2017, when Don Erehart and John Richardson assume new roles as an Interim Staff Leadership Team. In this role, Don and John will report directly to the Elder Board and will be responsible for leading all staff members and activities. They will continue their current responsibilities as Senior High and Care Ministries leaders, but will rely even more heavily on their staff and volunteer teams to help them in those roles.
The second stage of the transition will occur after Easter when Don Erehart and John Richardson also assume responsibility for the preaching plan. This will include identifying and recommending to the Elder Board the sermon series that they believe will best meet the needs of First Free. It will also include recommending to the Elder Board a plan for who should preach each sermon.
The final stage will occur at the end of July when Bill’s responsibilities for leading the Small Group ministry will end and he will move fully into his new role as a First Free missionary.
Subject to congregational approval at the February 12, 2017 Annual Congregational Meeting, the elders have appointed Bob Richter to lead a Senior Pastor Search Team. Bob and the elders are now prayerfully identifying the remainder of the Search Team members with the expectation of having them ready for congregational consideration at the February 12 meeting.
Additional information regarding Bill’s transition, our interim plans, and important dates will be added to this page as information becomes available. All entries will be dated.
If you have any questions about the transition, call or text Chuck Hembree (314.591.4792) or Rich Keffer (314.753.7606), or email email@example.com.