On Sunday, May 6, the Transition Team hosted two Town Hall meetings to update the congregation on the status of LCPC’s transition and search process. Here is an overview of that discussion. Please contact any member of the Transition Team or other member of Session with questions.
Pastoral Nominating Committee (PNC) Update
Session recently contacted ministry leaders throughout the church for recommendations of Covenant Partners who would make qualified candidates for the PNC and we received an impressive list of over 60 names. We are in the process of reviewing this list and assembling a team. Our hope is to nominate a team of 7-8 individuals, including two members of Session, which would be elected by the congregation in mid-June and commissioned in worship in mid-July.
Following Pastor Don’s resignation in Fall 2017, the members of Session had the opportunity to meet with Dana Allin, ECO Synod Executive, regarding his recommendations for the transition and pastoral search process. As part of this discussion, Dana recommended that we not act with haste during the transition: that we take the time necessary to understand the community and changing landscape in which we minister; gain broad agreement among leaders and congregants about the vision, mission, and goals of the congregation; and define the characteristics needed in pastoral leadership for the congregation. We refer to this process as “discernment.” Doing discernment well will build a strong foundation for a new pastor and increase the likelihood of a good fit and successful hire.
After much prayer, discussion, and deliberation, the Session came to the conclusion that attempting the discernment process on our own would be unwise. We believe that outside assistance will help bring clarity and provide a fresh, independent perspective that will help LCPC move beyond its existing ministry approach, thus setting the stage for a new senior pastor.
To this end, Session has chosen to partner with The Center, a nonprofit, Christian consulting group based in Souderton, PA, to help navigate the discernment and search process. The Center was formed out of Calvary Church, a large, non-denominational church of over 3,000 members. When Calvary began to thrive and grow, they prayerfully decided to form a consulting group to help other churches, rather than planting new churches. The Center is passionate about advancing leadership and organizational health. Over the past 17 years, they have served over 700 Christian pastors, leaders, churches, and organizations.
Every member of The Center’s team is a highly credentialed, well-respected Christian leader with extensive experience in their respective area of ministry, including several pastors. The Center specializes in personalized services for the unique context, vision and needs of the client – no boilerplate solutions!
The Transition Team, along with Pastor Pendell and Elders Strickland and Zucchero, visited The Center’s offices in March. Following that meeting and after receiving a proposal for LCPC, Elders Buccini and Carroll diligently conducted discussions with 15 references provided by The Center. The Center has been engaged locally and successfully by Millington Baptist Church, who sought their expertise during a period of decline several years ago, and continues an ongoing relationship for staff coaching and strategic planning.
For more information about The Center, please visit: www.centerconsulting.org.
The Discernment Process
Working with The Center, the discernment process will roll out in three phases: Assessment, Action Planning, and Search Assistance, and take roughly 5-9 months, followed by up to a year during which the actual search will take place. In total, we estimate approximately 18 months of discernment and search.
- Phase 1: Assessment
This phase will focus on finding out who we are: taking a look at LCPC history, assessing our organizational and ministry structure, and developing an understanding of the surrounding community. Activities that will take place during this phase include a congregational survey, focus groups, confidential interviews, and a community demographic profile.
- Phase 2: Action Planning
Following the Assessment, The Center will guide us in choosing a team to work together to prepare a comprehensive and compelling 3-year strategic plan. The Center will equip this team to develop the strategic plan and to implement the plan with specific goals and action steps, as well as software to track progress and provide reports.
- Phase 3: Search Assistance and Implementation
The Center is not a search firm, however they will work closely to assist the PNC with tasks such as developing the candidate profile, leadership coaching, assistance with networking and job posting, and – importantly – screening of candidates.
Throughout our engagement, The Center will provide related resources such as staff and leadership coaching and assistance with communications. The role of The Center is to guide us and work with us as partners throughout the discernment and search process, which is intended to give voice to the congregation. Your prayers and participation are vital to our success in discerning what God has planned for our faith community in Liberty Corner.
Dave Marks from The Center will be at LCPC on Sunday, June 3. Please join us for worship and two Town Hall Meetings to learn more.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
What role is ECO playing in our pastor search?
LCPC leadership and the PNC have responsibility for the search for a new pastor. ECO does not have a prescribed format for the pastor search, and allows individual churches great freedom during the transition and search process. Our LCPC Northeast Coast Presbytery will examine our final candidate to ensure that they have appropriate credentials, are theologically sound, and subscribe to the ECO Essential Tenets. In practice, LCPC will consider only candidates who meet these criteria and who would thus be acceptable to our ECO Presbytery.
Are we limited to selecting ECO pastors in our search?
No. LCPC will be seeking candidates who adhere to the Reformed theological tradition, will commit to the Essential Tenets adopted by ECO, and who possess the experience and leadership abilities needed for LCPC. Our candidates could come from a number of denominations including PC(USA), the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, the Presbyterian Church in America, the Reformed Church of America, the Christian Reformed Church, and perhaps others if the candidate meets the criteria set by LCPC and ECO.
Given our budget shortfalls, do we have the money to pay a consultant and cover pastoral search expenses?
Yes. The Session worked with the Endowment Team to fund the engagement with The Center for 2018 and 2019. Endowment funds are reserved for special ministry projects that fall outside of the normal operating budget. This project is aimed at assessing our overall ministry structure and organizational health. It is an investment in the future of our church and the effectiveness of our ministry in the greater community.
What can you do?
- Please pray for leadership, for each other, for the formation of the PNC and the discernment process, and for God’s will for the future of our church.
- Please participate in the discernment process; your voice is important. There will be several opportunities to participate such as the congregational survey, focus groups, and meetings.
- Please have an open heart to what God has planned for us and for our faith community in Liberty Corner.
As always, Session and the Transition Team appreciate your input and are available to speak with you at any time about questions or concerns.