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Senior Pastor Transition

 

First Baptist Church Abilene, founded in 1881, has had nineteen pastors. In the early days several ministers came and went, but in the last 100 years the church has been led by only seven senior pastors. The most recent, Dr. Philip L. Christopher, began his ministry in March 1995, and after twenty-six years of service he retired as senior pastor in September 2021. The people of First Baptist are grateful for his long and fruitful tenure. The church is now in a time of transition as it prepares for the coming of a new senior pastor.

 

Pastor Search Committee

 

First Baptist has elected a Pastor Search Committee of nine people to lead the church through this season of transition and the search for our new pastoral leader.

PASTOR SEARCH COMMITTEE

Front row: Debby Brown, Jecilly Varghese, Libby Gibson, Tiffany Hammer

Back row: Bob Ellis (Chair), Paul Irby (Vice-chair), Evan Harris, Marcus Spencer, Jim Jones

 

Updates

May 2022 Update from Pastor Search Committee

 

The Pastor Search Committee is now taking the last step in our church’s self-study process. As a committee, we recognize that before we can call someone to be an effective leader for our congregation, we have to ask, “What kind of church are we, and where is God leading us?” Rather than coming up with the answer to that question on our own, we have been listening to what you, the church, said about our identity and calling through three church-wide conversations and two surveys of the congregation.

 

We have been analyzing the information you provided in the conversations and surveys and summarizing the data into a Congregational Profile. It will be a significant document which provides a snapshot of who we are at this point in time and where we as a church hope to go in the future. We have completed the text of the profile, and it’s now in the hands of a layout designer. The final document should be ready in a few weeks. The purpose of the Congregational Profile is to provide prospective candidates for our senior pastor position a clear picture of who we are as a church. The profile will also be available to the whole congregation through our church website.

 

Now the Pastor Search Committee is turning our attention to developing a second profile, one which describes the sort of senior pastor our church needs, based upon what we’ve said about ourselves in the Congregational Profile. We are asking, “Given the kind of church we are, and who we think we need to be in the future, what sort of person can best lead us to fulfill God’s calling?” The Senior Pastor Profile will be an internal document we use as a committee in the process of seeking and interviewing pastoral candidates.  

 

As your Pastor Search Committee, we are grateful for your participation in the self-study process, for your patience and encouragement, and for your prayers. We see the signs that God is at work in our church in unique ways, helping us to remain faithful in this transition time and to prepare wisely for our future as the faithful servants of Christ.

 

Praying for God’s wisdom,

The Pastor Search Committee

Lin

Messages

April 1, 2022

 UPDATE FROM THE PASTOR SEARCH COMMITTEE

 

The Pastor Search Committee, with the guidance of Dr. Matt Cook, has embraced a unique transitional path that involves two distinct stages. First, we are engaging a congregational self-study which will result in a Congregational Profile and a Senior Pastor Profile. With these profiles we will then embark on the second stage of searching for the senior pastor we think best fits our church’s needs.

We are well into the self-study phase, whereby our congregation has been considering our church’s values, focus, and trajectory, by means of three congregational conversations and two surveys. The Pastor Search Committee is grateful for the overwhelmingly generous and fruitful participation of the congregation in each of our data-gathering exercises, resulting in a rich store of insights and aspirations about our church that we are carefully considering in these days.

 

In the March edition of First Words, we provided a summary of the central findings from our first two Congregational Conversations and the Convictional Survey. Our third Congregational Conversation at the end of February and the Next Pastor Survey involved some questions about our next senior pastor, and we will be sifting through that data for some time. The conversation and survey also asked some questions about where we see our church, which provided some information we can report on now. The questions involved a series of polarities, asking where we as a church fall on a five-point scale at present and where we think we need to be in the future.

 

With regard to our current positioning between the polarities, the third Congregational Conversation showed we are close to the middle on each one. The results show:

  1. Between our church’s internal focus [1 on scale] and external focus [5 on scale], we were just right of the middle [at 3.3], leaning toward an external focus.
  2. Between focus on stability [1] or change [5], we leaned a bit from the middle toward stability [2.4 on scale].
  3. Between strong lay leadership [1] and strong staff leadership [5], we were just right of the middle, leaning toward more staff leadership [3.3 on scale].
  4. Between a focus on nurture [1] or on transformation [5] as a church, we were slightly right in the middle [3.1 on scale].
  5. Between being a church that is attractional [1] and being missional [5], we were just right of middle, leaning toward missional [3.3 on scale].

    In the survey following the third conversation, we asked again about the same polarities, but this time in terms of where we think the church needs to go in the future. The responses were again close to the middle, with small shifts on the five-point scale:

 

  1. On the first polarity, a slight movement toward having more of an internal focus rather than external [0.4 point shift toward internal focus].
  2. On the second polarity, a somewhat larger (but still not dramatic) shift toward change rather than stability in the future [1 point shift toward change].
  3. On the third polarity, a small shift toward more lay leadership compared to staff leadership [0.4 point toward laity].

 

With all of the good data from our congregational self-study in hand, the Pastor Search Committee now moves to a “quieter phase” where we will be writing the Congregational Profile, which we will share with the church in a few weeks. Then, we will turn to writing the Senior Pastor Profile. Up to this point, we have been able to share freely the results of our conversations together; however, as we move to more personal information relating to our future pastor, we will need to hold more data in confidence. That said, we continue to encourage the congregation to communicate with us through your questions, suggestions, ideas, and encouragements. We are eager to listen and share what we can, while realizing that some information will need to be held confidentially.

 

The committee asks that you continue to pray for us as we enter the next phase of our work, praying particularly that we will discern where the Spirit of God is leading as we compile the profiles for our congregation and our next senior pastor.

 

Grateful for your encouragement,

 

The Pastor Search Committee

 

March 2022

A Message from the Pastor Search Committee

 

Thank you for your ongoing support of the Pastor Search Committee and your generous participation in three community conversations and two individual surveys. In this time of pastoral transition, we are winding down the first phase of our work together, a congregational “self-study.” In order to know what sort of Senior Pastor we need, we first must ask what sort of church we are, and where we think God is leading us in the future. In our three Congregational Conversations, we have come together as a church community to discuss the important issues of our identity and calling. The dialogue has been very fruitful, resulting in clear statements of our values from the first conversation, concrete directions in which to focus our energy from the second conversation, and a sense of our trajectory, or where we think we need to go, from our third conversation. In addition to these three big conversations, we have asked you to participate in two surveys: one about our convictions as a church, and one about our next pastor.

 

To summarize the results from our first Congregational Conversation, where we talked about what we value most about our church, we said that First Baptist is a:

 

  1. Welcoming community who values authentic relationships.
  2. Missional community who values outwardly-focused service.
  3. Spiritual community who values intergenerational, lifelong formation.
  4. Worshipping community who values depth and reverence in music and word.
  5. Traditional community who values heritage, innovation, and progress.

(To review fuller statements of these values, go to the February First Words, or click here: February First Words.)

 

From our second Congregational Conversation, the most commonly discussed items about where we are focusing or need to focus the energy of our church, we said the following.

 

        With regard to the Mirror view (looking inwardly), we said that:

  1. Our senior membership is emblematic of our rich heritage, and we hope to increase engagement of younger generations.
  2. While we are concerned about a decline in Sunday morning attendance, we have maintained numbers fairly well through the pandemic, and we hope to grow in the future.
  3. The well-balanced budget of our church reflects our heart for missions by prioritizing externally-focused ministries.
  4. The people of FBC are generous in their giving, especially in the senior adult area, and we hope to encourage more generosity among younger adults.

 

        With regard to the Window view (looking outwardly), we said that:

  1. Community ministries, such as City Light, GLO, FLC, and Ministry of Counseling, are hallmarks of our church’s significant imprint in Abilene and the Big Country.
  2. Our community has a relatively high number of households made up of singles, adults without children, and single moms, and we hope to increase our engagement with them.
  3. FBC media ministry reaches many well beyond our church walls and can provide a springboard for even more creative engagement in this arena.
  4. While City Light Community Ministries serves a diverse population, we would like for the rest of our congregation to reflect more of the ethnic, economic, and overall diversity of our city.

 

Between the first and second Congregational Conversations, we also participated in a survey of the convictions of our church, related primarily to theological matters, but also to broad cultural and political issues. The purpose of the survey was to gauge where our church stands on a spectrum of conservative, moderate, and progressive perspectives. The survey showed that we have folks in our church who hold convictions at all points of the spectrum, but the average of respondents indicates that we are a “center right” church, with most of us being on the line between conservative and moderate. The survey also indicated that as a congregation we value relationships with folks who have different perspectives from us, and we are open to leadership from a Senior Pastor whose perspectives are somewhat different from our own. Because 403 of us were willing to engage in this survey, we have some very helpful data to share with a future pastor about our convictions as a church and our openness to perspectives different from our own.

 

Our third and final Congregational Conversation occurred on February 27. Thank you for your generous involvement in the table dialogue, which produced a lot of helpful information about the trajectory of our church, focusing on where we see God leading us and what we imagine our future Senior Pastor will need to do and be. That conversation was immediately followed by a second survey concerning our future pastor. We are asking everyone in the congregation to take the Next Pastor Survey, which will be available until March 10. A link to the survey was sent out in an email from our interim pastor’s organization. If you haven’t seen it yet, look for an email from MattC@CHChurches.org. The emailed survey link can only be used once (and it can’t be forwarded to anyone else for use), so each person in your family will need to provide the church office with an individual email to receive the survey. Most of us have already worked out individual email addresses in connection with our first survey. However, if you do not receive the Next Pastor Survey or have any trouble with it, contact Debra Clemmer in the church office at (325) 675-8116 or debra.clemmer@fbcabilene.org. The survey typically takes about ten minutes to complete, and we hope that all youth and adults in the church will complete it. As a committee, we are eager to hear your individual thinking about the sort of Senior Pastor our church needs.

 

Over the next 6-8 weeks the Pastor Search Committee will move into a less visible phase, as we are

analyzing the data from the third conversation and the second survey. From all the data collected, we will develop two important documents: a Church Profile, which describes the nature and vision of our church, and a Senior Pastor Profile, which broadly describes the sort of leader our church needs in the future. Please pray for us in this analysis and writing phase of our work, that we will have the gift of spiritual discernment as we listen for God’s direction. When this self-study phase is completed, we will share our work with the congregation and move into the search phase, where we are actively seeking the person whom we will recommend to the church as our next Senior Pastor.

 

With gratitude for your participation and encouragement,                                    

 

The Pastor Search Committee


February 2022 Update

 

The 2nd Congregational Conversation was held on Sunday, January 23 and if you would like to go back and review the slides which were presented during the presentation, you may access them by clicking on this link:

 

                       2nd Congregational Conversation Slides

 

  • Update for the Congregation for January

     

    Patient anticipation. This is our hope for First Baptist as this new year begins: that we will anticipate what lies ahead with patience. As a church in transition, we know things are changing and will change even more. Changes call for patience as we work within shifting circumstances and fresh challenges, but changes also create the opportunity to anticipate new things God wants to accomplish within our congregation.

     

    Following the retirement of Dr. Christopher, we are fortunate to have the leadership of a very capable ministry staff who have taken on extra duties, and we have heard from various gifted preachers over recent months. While that variety has been good this fall, we now look forward to the consistency of a single voice of weekly proclamation as Dr. Matt Cook begins service as our interim pastor on January 9. He will be able to wisely guide us through this new year of transition in which we are patiently listening to discern the leadership of the Spirit of God and preparing for the coming of a new senior pastor one day. Because Dr. Cook is serving as both the consultant to the Pastor Search Committee and as our Interim Pastor, there is a significant financial savings to our congregation by using him in both roles.

     

    In the new year, we are also anticipating two more Congregational Conversations during which the Pastor Search Committee will be listening to what you as a church say about who we are and where we are going. The Second Congregational Conversation will be on January 23 and will address the FOCUS of our church. The Third Congregational Conversation will be on February 27 and will consider our church’s TRAJECTORY. We will follow the same timeframe for these sessions as for our first conversation. Please put both dates on your calendar: January 23 and February 27.

     

    Here are the details for our next Congregational Conversation:

     

    WHAT: Second Congregational Conversation for all FBC Youth and Adults

    WHERE: Family Life Center Gym

    WHEN: January 23, 2022

          4:45-5:30 p.m. – Meal (complimentary)

          5:30-7:00 p.m. – Conversation around the Tables

    CHILDCARE:

    • Infants through Pre-K may be dropped off at the main church nursery starting at 4:45 p.m., and these children must have eaten before they arrive.
    • Children who are K-5th grade are invited to enjoy the meal in the FLC at 4:45 p.m. with their families and then move to their activities in the FLC at 5:15 p.m., while adults and youth (6th grade and up) join the Congregational Conversation in the gym.

    RSVP: To make your reservation for the meal and conversation simply click here, or contact Debra Clemmer at (325) 675-8116 or debra.clemmer@fbcabilene.org.

     

    For everyone who came to the first congregational conversation in November, thank you for participating AND we look forward to hearing from you again, because the second conversation will be asking for your feedback on different issues. If you were not able to attend the First Congregational Conversation, we especially want to hear from you in these other two conversations, as it’s very important to have your input.

     

    In the Second Congregational Conversation on January 23, we will be looking at two major pieces of information: internal data about the state of our church and external data about the community in which we minister. To say it another way, this second conversation involves a mirror view, whereby we take a look at ourselves, and a window view through which we examine the context around us. The search committee will be presenting data about these two perspectives and asking what you think about this information and what it means for our church now and in the future.

     

    Leading up to our Second Congregational Conversation in January, we are also renewing the call to [email protected]. We will have prayer emphases in our worship services and on Wednesday evening at 6 p.m., and we ask that all Bible study classes and small groups pray for our church in transition. We encourage you to pray for a good attendance at the Second Conversation and for our church as we grow in our spiritual discernment.

     

    The Pastor Search Committee is grateful for your patience as we continue our work. We have spent many hours analyzing and distilling what you as a church said about our core values during the First Congregational Conversation last November.  At our January 23 session, we will report back to the church the results about those core values. The committee is also carefully planning for the Second Congregational Conversation and we hope you will be present to share your insights about where God is leading our church.

     

    Looking forward with patient anticipation to what lies ahead, 

     

    Your Pastor Search Committee

 

Update from Pastor Search Committee – November 1, 2021

Thank you, First Baptist Church, for the encouraging words and prayerful support you are showing to the Pastor Search Committee! We are inspired by your participation in [email protected] during the month of October, as we are praying for Phil and Mary, for our church body, and for the Pastor Search Committee in these days of transition.

 

First Congregational Conversation on November 7

 

We also feel a genuine sense of excitement about our upcoming First Congregational Conversation on November 7. On that day we will have a church-wide hamburger meal together at 4:45 pm in the Family Life Center gym, and then all adults and youth will gather around tables at 5:30 pm for a church-wide conversation. Pre-school children will be cared for in the main church’s nursery area. They can be dropped off as early as 4:45 pm, but be sure they eat before coming. Children in Kindergarten through the sixth grade may join their parents for the hamburger meal at 4:45 pm; then they will be cared for in designated areas of the Family Life Center, while their parents go to the gym for our conversation.

 

During the Congregational Conversation we will be talking about our Values as a church — what we see as the most treasured qualities of First Baptist. The Pastor Search Committee is eager to hear from everyone about what matters most to you about First Baptist.

 

In order to prepare adequately, we need everyone to provide an RSVP for November 7, with the meal at 4:45 pm and the First Congregational Conversation starting at 5:30 pm in the FLC.

Two More Congregational Conversations

 

To look ahead, the Pastor Search Committee will be hosting two additional Congregational Conversations in the new year. In January the conversation will center on what we Focus on, or what we should Focus on, as a church. In the third Congregational Conversation, which will come in February, we will talk about the Trajectory of our church — where we are going in the future.

 

The information we gain from all three Congregational Conversations will be incorporated into our Church Profile, a description of our identity and aspirations. The Church Profile will then be the basis for developing a Senior Pastor Profile, which will outline the skills and gifts we will be looking for in our next pastor. As you can see, it is very important that we hear from each of you in all of three conversations, because we want to know your thoughts about who our church is, where we are going, and what kind of leadership we need in the future.

 

Thanksgiving

 

In this season of Thanksgiving we have so much for which to be grateful. Within our congregation we sense the loving presence of the Spirit of God who inspires our worship and empowers us for faithful service. The very gifted ministers of our church staff lead us to grow in faith and serve the Lord. We who are the laity of the church continue to be the hands and feet of Christ in our community. This is not a day of stagnation, but a time for prayerful reflection and fresh openness to the moving of the Holy Spirit among us.

 

On Wednesday evenings we have a [email protected] time at 6:00 pm in room 164. In a recent prayer meeting, while we were talking about where we sense our church is these days, one person in our group said, “I feel a real excitement right now, like this is a time of renewal.”

 

We may have entered this liminal space of pastoral transition with some feelings of uncertainty, perhaps even anxiety. Yet we are discovering that God, who is forever faithful and always moving, is certainly in our midst, guiding us into the uncharted opportunities ahead that we cannot now see, but will certainly become adventures of faith that are greater than our imaginations.

 

With hope and joy for the journey ahead, we look forward to seeing you for our Congregational Conversation on November 7.

 

 

Update from the Pastor Search Committee – October 1, 2021

 

The Pastor Search Committee has been praying and carefully thinking about the best way for our church to enter this period of senior pastor transition. We have created two important opportunities for the whole church to participate in this fall.

  1. [email protected]: A Season of Prayer for the Month of October

We invite the congregation to engage in a focused season of prayer in October called [email protected], wherein we will focus on praying for

  • Phil and Mary Christopher as they transition into the next chapter of life
  • Our church in this interim period as we prepare for a new Senior Pastor
  • The Pastor Search Committee as they guide our church in the transition and search for a new leader.

During each of the Sunday Worship services in October, we will engage in this season of prayer as a congregation, and we will be encouraging many other opportunities for prayer:

  • In Sunday School classes
  • On Wednesday evenings at 6:00 pm
  • In weekday prayer groups and all other meetings of our fellowship
  • At home and with our families.

Jim Jones has prepared a Prayer Guide for our church, which is available here

  1. First Congregational Conversation on Sunday, November 7

We will be engaging in a series of Congregational Conversations about our church’s identity and mission. The input from these discussions will shape our Church Profile and the Senior Pastor Profile, which will serve as the principal criteria for our search for a senior pastor. It is very important for everyone in the congregation to participate in these church-wide conversations. Here is information about our first conversation.

 

WHAT: First Congregational Conversation for Our Pastoral Transition

      Designed for all FBC Youth and Adults

      Hosted by the Pastor Search Committee

 

WHERE: Family Life Center Gym

 

WHEN: November 7, 2021

      4:45-5:30 pm – Hamburger Meal (complimentary)

      5:30-7:00 pm – Conversation around the Tables

 

CHILDCARE:

  • Infants through Pre-K may be dropped off at the main church nursery starting at 4:45 pm, and these children must have eaten before they arrive.
  • Children who are K-5th grade are invited to enjoy the hamburger meal in the FLC at 4:45 with their families and then move to their activities in the FLC at 5:15, while youth and adults join the Congregational Conversation in the gym.

Message from the Pastor Search Committee – September 29, 2021

 

Dear Church Family:

 

On behalf of the Pastor Search Committee, thank you for supporting us through your encouragement, prayer, and the commissioning of our committee in worship on September 12th. We are privileged to be part of such a compassionate church family.

 

Along with everyone else in the congregation, we feel deep joy as we celebrate 26 years of Dr. Christopher’s ministry at First Baptist. Phil, Mary, Jeremy, and Natalie are a great gift from God to all of us. At the same time, we feel the weight of changing relationships, as Phil retires and his leadership role as our Senior Pastor comes to a conclusion. We celebrate all that God has done in our midst through Phil’s dynamic leadership, and we look forward with faith to the next chapter in the life of our church.

 

Rich Resources Available to Us

 

The Pastor Search Committee has been quite busy since you elected us to lead in this time of pastoral transition. We are learning a lot about the pastor search process, and we feel both a sense of humility in the face of the huge task and deep confidence that God, who has led FBC from our beginning in 1881, will certainly be faithful in guiding our church through this interim time and on to new horizons of service.

 

One thing that has been particularly helpful to us is the discovery of organizations that assist churches in the search for a new pastor. After careful investigation, the Pastor Search Committee has engaged the Center for Healthy Churches (CHC) to consult with us, coaching our committee as we move ahead. CHC is a well-established organization created by Baptists and specializing in helping churches like ours. Their assistant director, Dr. Matt Cook, who lives in Dallas, will be our consultant. For over 20 years he served as the senior pastor of several Baptist churches, and now he ministers through church consultation and interim pastorates. For more information, explore the website for CHC at www.chchurches.org (look under the About and Resources tabs).

 

Dr. Cook has already been a huge asset to our committee, especially in helping us to conceptualize the journey ahead. We do not think of our work as simply helping the church to hire a new employee, but we view the search for a new senior pastor as an act of spiritual discernment for our committee and our congregation. Our purpose is to follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit, discerning the Lord’s guidance to the individual whose gifts and pastoral skills best fit the needs of our church. The process is not a matter of any one of us asking, “What do I want in the next pastor?,” but rather the question is: “What sort of pastor does our church need to help us live out God’s calling for our congregation?”

 

As a committee we are deeply grateful for our church’s remarkable Leadership and Ministry Staffs, knowing they are fully capable of guiding us in the days ahead to continue our mission of being the presence of Christ in our world. We also look forward to the pulpit ministry and pastoral encouragement of our future interim pastor, when that person is called to our church. All of the basic elements are coming together to help us thrive as a church in this time of transition.

 

Next Steps for Our Church

 

Your Pastor Search Committee has a very clear sense of how our church can begin well in this transition period. We want you to know about two important opportunities just ahead for FBC.

  1. [email protected]: A Season of Prayer for the Month of October

The first thing we ask of the congregation is to engage in a focused season of prayer in the month of October as we enter this time of transition. We are calling it [email protected] to emphasize that First Baptist is a praying church and that prayer is our first responsibility as we seek to discern the Spirit’s leadership.

 

In particular, we are inviting the whole church to focus our October season of prayer on the following:

  • Prayer for Phil and Mary Christopher as they transition into the next chapter of life
  • Prayer for our church in this interim period as we prepare for a new Senior Pastor
  • Prayer for the Pastor Search Committee as they guide our church in the transition and search for a new leader.

During each of the Sunday Worship services in October, we will engage in this time of prayer as a congregation, and we will be encouraging many other opportunities for prayer:

  • In Sunday School classes
  • On Wednesday evenings at 6:00 pm
  • In weekday prayer groups and all other meetings of our fellowship
  • At home and with our families.

Jim Jones will also be preparing a Prayer Guide for our church. The guide and other resources and opportunities will be appearing on the main page of the church website through a link called “Senior Pastor Transition.” We will also provide [email protected] bracelets for all worshipers on Sunday morning, October 3, as a tool to remind us to pray.

  1. First Congregational Conversation on Sunday, November 7

An early task that we have as the Pastor Search Committee, according to our Church’s Constitution and Bylaws, is to develop a profile of our church. The profile will explore who we have been as a church, who we are now, and where we imagine God will be leading us in the future. Based on this Church Profile, we will also develop a Senior Pastor Profile that will summarize the gifts and strengths we will be looking for in the leader who can help us fulfill God’s calling for our church.

 

As a committee we understand that this Church Profile is something that the congregation needs to help develop. We want to know who you think FBC is and what you imagine our mission will be in the future. The most effective way to collect the whole church’s thinking about our identity and purpose is to engage in a series of church-wide conversations, wherein we can think and dream together.

 

The First Congregational Conversation will be on November 7, 2021. It is imperative that everyone in the church be present for this important discussion as we begin to form a deep sense of where we are as a church. We need to hear everyone’s voice, so we strongly encourage all youth and adults in the church to join in the dialogue.

 

Here are the details for our First Congregational Conversation:

 

WHAT: First Congregational Conversation for Our Pastoral Transition

     Designed for all FBC Youth and Adults

      Hosted by the Pastor Search Committee

WHERE: Family Life Center Gym

WHEN: November 7, 2021

      4:45-5:30 pm – Hamburger Meal (complimentary)

      5:30-7:00 pm – Conversation around the Tables

CHILDCARE:

  • Infants through Pre-K may be dropped off at the main church nursery starting at 4:45 pm, and these children must have eaten before they arrive.
  • Children who are K-5th grade are invited to enjoy the hamburger meal in the FLC at 4:45 with their families and then move to their activities in the FLC at 5:15, while youth and adults engage the Congregational Conversation in the gym.

The Big Picture

 

To summarize, the Pastor Search Committee is inviting the entire congregation to join in [email protected], a season of prayer in the month of October for the Christophers, for our Church, and for the Pastor Search Committee as we enter this time of transition.

 

We also encourage the whole church to participate in our First Congregational Conversation on Sunday, November 7, starting with a meal at 4:45 pm and then table talk at 5:30 pm. Your input about our church’s identity and mission will directly influence the sort of Senior Pastor we will be looking for in the future.

 

In addition to the Congregational Conversations, the Pastor Search Committee wants to be available to you at other times. Feel free to talk with anyone of us on the committee about your ideas, questions, and comments, or you may email us at pastorsearch@fbcabilene.org.

 

As we enter this transition period, we do so with deep gratitude for Dr. Christopher’s leadership and a sense of expectancy about what God will be doing in our church in the future. We look forward to seeing how the Spirit of God will fulfill in us the promise that “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it entered the heart of anyone the things that God has prepared for those who love the Lord” (1Cor 2:9). Amen!

With gratitude and hope,

 

The FBC Pastor Search Committee

Debby Brown

Bob Ellis, Chair

Libby Gibson

Tiffany Hammer

Evan Harris

Paul Irby, Vice-chair

Jim Jones

Marcus Spencer

Jecilly Varghese

 

Our Transition Process

Our Transition Process

 

We understand our church’s time of transition to be a process of spiritual discernment, whereby the Pastor Search Committee and the entire congregation are seeking to understand and follow the leadership of the Spirit of God. To guide our discernment, we have identified three stages in the journey ahead for our church.

 

STAGE ONE – Laying the Groundwork: Selection of the Pastor Search Committee and an Interim Pastor

 

The congregation elected a Pastor Search Committee on July 21, 2021, comprised of Debby Brown, Bob Ellis, Libby Gibson, Tiffany Hammer, Evan Harris, Paul Irby, Marcus Spencer, and Jecilly Varghese. The Personnel Committee of the church will recommend an individual for the church to consider electing as their Interim Pastor.

 

STAGE TWO – Exploring Our Church’s Context: The Identity and Mission of First Baptist Church

  1. Developing Our Church Profile — Discerning Who We Are and Where God Is Calling Us
  2. Developing Our Senior Pastor Profile — Discerning What Kind of Leader We Need to Fulfill Our Mission

In this stage of the transition process, the Pastor Search Committee will lead the church to explore its identity and mission through a series of Congregational Conversations that focus on the church’s heritage, its present reality, and the church’s future potential. The first Congregational Conversation will be on November 7, 2021.

 

The content of our Congregational Conversations will be the basis for the search committee to develop a Church Profile that describes who we are and what we dream for our future. The Church Profile will then be used to develop our Senior Pastor Profile, describing the sort of gifts and skills we are looking for in a new leader who can help us fulfill our mission.

 

STAGE THREE – Seeking Our New Senior Pastor: Leadership for Today and Tomorrow at First Baptist Church

  1. Searching for Senior Pastor Candidates — Discerning Whose Gifts May Meet Our Church’s Needs
  2. Presenting a Senior Pastor Candidate to the Congregation — Discerning God’s Guidance and Purpose for Us

In stage three of our transition process, the Pastor Search Committee will explore candidates who may be able to serve our church as Senior Pastor. When the committee discerns the one candidate who seems to best fit the needs of our church, as described in the Church Profile and Senior Pastor Profile, they will recommend that individual to the church for consideration and potential for calling as our new Senior Pastor.

 

For a fuller description of the work of the Pastor Search Committee at this early stage of transition, click here