In these days he [Jesus] went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles… Luke 6:12-13
What’s up with the pastoral search process? Did it stall because of the COVID-19 outbreak?
Actually not. The Succession Group (Dale Moses, Iain Kenney, Huck Halley, and Rob Miller along with myself) have been meeting almost every week by ZOOM. Over the last three months, we have been interviewing candidates, meeting to discuss our findings, but oftentimes just to pray.
We have been “shaking the trees” looking for fruitful prospects. We have contacted local pastors and ministry leaders. We have communicated with several of our missionaries asking them to think and pray about candidates they might know who would be a good fit for Island Christian Church. We have determined not to “settle,” but to press forward to determine God’s best choice for ICC. We have some very viable candidates, but in all truth, I really have no idea at this point who will be the next Senior Pastor of our church. It is assuring however that it really is not our church–not at all–but God’s church over which he has appointed us as stewards. He is showing us and will continue to show us the way as we seek him.
I hope you will join us in that. As you can see from the Scripture above, intense prayer was the method Jesus modeled for us as he chose those who would be his closest followers and the first apostles.
What characterizes the person we are searching for?
This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. (Titus 1:5-9)
When Scripture speaks of church leaders of this type, as it does in the passage above, what is there and what is not there?
It does not specify a particular educational attainment. Nevertheless, this person must be a (lifetime) student of the word of God: He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction…(v. 9) The verse above implies that he is not merely self-taught, but he would be one who hears from others and heeds faithful teaching: …the trustworthy word as taught… Submitting to the teaching of others (with discernment), is a sign of humility, always a virtue to be prized.
It does not disqualify a person for his pre-Christian failures. They are not mentioned here. In fact, Scripture speaks of God’s great redeeming love, in this case toward the Apostle Paul:
I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. (1 Timothy 1:12-16)
It does speak of Christ-like character, living a life that is above reproach, and of leading his family well.
Please continue to pray. The “obvious” choice may not be God’s choice (see 1 Samuel 16:6-13).
Seeking God’s best with you and for you,