With all that has been going, I need to remind myself and you that we are in a pastoral transition. Although this Covid thing has slowed our search, we are still working on finding a good, godly, growth-oriented, faithful, wise pastor for East Hills Community Church.
As we our search for a permanent senior pastor continues, we need to remember that that no pastor is perfect. You already know that pretty well because I have been with you for six months. Here is what you probably know about Platt:
1. He has a hard time staying under 40 minutes on Sunday mornings.
2. He tells a lot of jokes (sometimes the same ones over and over)
3. He gets
“hoof and mouth” disease sometimes.
4. He gets misty and chokes up on things that touch his heart.
5. He doesn’t like to sit on the front row during services very much.
6. He has a fabulous haircut!
Many people are disheartened to learn that their pastor is not the perfect Christian, the perfect man, and/or the perfect pastor. So, it is wise to be careful that we do not set ourselves up for disappointment by expecting perfection out of our pastors. Also, churches that expect perfection in their pastors will sap the joy out of the man, his wife, and his family because nobody can live up to perfectionistic scrutiny. That’s why it is very important that we get a realistic view about pastors as we prepare for our new senior pastor.
Most of the Bible characters were not perfect either. Imagine if a search committee considered some of them for a pastoral position. The assessments might look like this:
Noah: He has 120 years of experience, but no one was converted during his entire ministry. He should consider going back to the boat building business or work in a zoo.
Moses: This guy has a stuttering problem when he speaks. He seems to rely on his brother Aaron too much for leadership. His former congregation says he loses his temper and throws things when he gets angry.
Abraham: He took off to Egypt during hard times. We heard that he got into trouble with the authorities because he lied to protect himself.
David: He seems to be a good leader, but his moral character is very bad. He put out a contract and had a woman's husband murdered. He might be a possibility for a minister of music position if he had not fallen in adultery.
Hosea: He is a sincere man but his family life is in shambles. His wife was a prostitute and went back to that life again.
John: They say he is a Baptist but he is really more like an old hippie. He wears very weird clothes. All his sermons are about one thing - repentance. He would not do well at church dinners with his strange diet of locusts and wild honey.
Peter: This guy has a really bad temper. He can be really dangerous with that sword he carries if confronted. He was heard to deny that even knew Jesus on three different occasions. He might be better if he went go back to his former occupation as a fisherman.
Paul: This preacher is harsh and argumentative. He preaches way too long. One person fell asleep in one of his sermons fell out of a three-story window and died. Worse yet, this guy has a long criminal record with a lot of jail time. We can't have this!
Jesus: This man tends to offend established members with his preaching, especially the people who know the Bible. He is also not an expository preacher, tells too many stories, and is way too controversial. He even offended a search committee with his pointed questions one time.
Probably the only one that might have looked pretty good might have been Judas. I can picture some pastoral search committee giving this assessment of him:
Judas: This man seems to be very practical, passionate, good with money, cares for the poor, and dresses well. He has a lot of good connections with religious leaders. He is a good talker too. We like his zeal and passion. We think he might be just the man we are looking for to fill our job vacancy.
Wow, first impressions really can be deceiving, can’t they? We want to be wise and discerning as we seek the Lord for our next pastor.
I know I have embellished these characters some. But my point is that nobody is perfect, including you and me. So, you can be sure that our new senior pastor will have his flaws too. So, the sooner we get realistic the more likely that our new pastor will be accepted and used of the Lord. We have to remember that imperfect people are be used of God to do His perfect will and purposes.
Folks, we don’t know who our new pastor will be yet. We don’t know when our new pastor will arrive either. One thing we do know, God is working. Our Elders are seeking God’s person. In time, God will make His way plain to us. We need the hand of God and the ministry of the Holy Spirit, so please ask God to give them wisdom as we do our search.
Our church has a pastoral profile. So far, we know that he must meet all the biblical criteria of 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. We are looking for a person who has a vibrant faith, exemplary life, effective witness, and close walk with God. For a church of our size, our potential, and our demographics, he will need to have had graduate training in the pastoral ministry, have served in a mid-sized to large church and have expertise on a multiple-staff. He should have thorough knowledge of God’s Word and excellent preaching skills. He will need to have wholehearted agreement with our doctrinal statement, constitution, and our philosophy of ministry. He needs to be a leader who finds, disciples, and empowers others to lead. We believe God wants our new pastor to match our church, our city, and our culture.
Pastoral searches are like looking for a needle in a haystack. But we have to remember that God owns the haystack and He owns the needle! Pastoral searches take time. If churches are in a hurry, they often make tragic decisions. The EHCC Elders are prayerfully making sure we do not get head of the Holy Spirit.
Pastoral placement is vastly different from secular searches. You don’t just put an ad in the paper and take applications. A church is family, so it is more like finding a mate or a match. Our church needs a pastor who can pastor the folks over 60 while reaching out to people under 40. Our church is pastor-led, board-directed with congregational affirmations. Our next pastor needs to be multi-gifted. He has to have excellent people skills and be able deal with challenges and differences with wisdom, joy and grace. Above all, he has to be a spiritual man who loves God and has a contagious walk with Christ.
Just like a person who is just starting to date, we are trying to put our best foot forward. We have developed an opportunity brochure about our church, our community, and more to present our church and ministry to potential candidates. Hundreds of people have that brochure now and we hope to get it to more. We are sprucing up our facilities.
Our elders have talked to our former pastors and our denominational leaders. We have consulted with other pastors who know our church for insights about serving the Lord in the Bay Area. We are networking and connecting with other Christian leaders for names and connections of people who might match our pastoral profile. And most of all, our church leaders are diligently seeking God in prayer for His guidance and provision.
But until then, there are some things you can do. Continue to pray for our EHCC Elders. Then, pray for the man God has already chosen. Don’t despair if the search takes a while and don’t be surprised it happens quickly. Let’s just be confident in what Abraham told Isaac in Genesis 22:8:
“God will provide!” Pray that we will wait with patience until God provides our new pastor. Ask God to give us a willingness to follow his leadership.
Then, when our new pastor comes, show him grace, and give him some latitude. Let him be himself. Don’t compare him to pastors of the past. Respect his leadership. Love him, his wife, and kids. Let him grow into the job and the work. Serve, give, and honor the Lord. Your faithfulness will make the difference for time and eternity.
In the meantime, I plan on doing some “spade work” to prepare you for the next pastor. But perhaps this letter might get you thinking about our expectations and considering how we treat a new pastor.
I love being your pastor!
Pastor Mark Platt