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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

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.

Prayer Guide

Link

Daily Guides

 

[email protected]

Week One:  Prayer of Covenant

Sunday, October 3

 

Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my sighing.  Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray.  In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.  Psalm 5:1-3 (NIV)

 

Is a covenant of daily prayer too much for me?

 

“Blessed Savior, I pace back and forth at the altar of commitment.  I really do want a fixed habit of prayer.  At least, that is what I want right now.  I’m not sure if that is what I will want two weeks from now.  I do know that without some kind of consistent communion with you I will not know holy obedience.  So, as best I can, I promise to set aside time regularly for prayer, meditation, and spiritual reading.  Strengthen me in this covenant.  Help me to so delight in your presence that I will want to come home to you often.  In your name and for your sake I make this covenant.  Amen.”  (Richard L. Foster)

 

Prayers of Intercession:

  • Phil and Mary Christopher’s transition to retirement
  • Our church during this transition period
  • Guidance for the Pastor Search Committee

[email protected]

Week One:  Prayer of Covenant

Monday, October 4

 

Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession.  Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation…The people all responded together, “We will do everything the LORD has said.”  Exodus 19:5-6, 8 (NIV)

 

Jesus knows about my human frailty.  Are my good intentions enough for you, Lord, even when I forget and fail?  I still want to be a part of your treasured possession – always.

 

Prayers of Intercession:

  • Phil and Mary Christopher’s transition to retirement
  • Our church during this transition period
  • Guidance for the Pastor Search Committee

[email protected]

Week One:  Prayer of Covenant

Tuesday, October 5

 

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.  I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to observe your righteous ordinances.  Psalm 119:105-106 (NRSV)

 

Your Word provides your holy standard for my life, but reading it convicts me.  I do want to keep my promises.  Lord, do you understand the desire of my heart to be faithful?  Please allow me to renew my commitment each day.   

 

Prayers of Intercession:

  • Phil and Mary Christopher’s transition to retirement
  • Our church during this transition period
  • Guidance for the Pastor Search Committee

[email protected]

Week One:  Prayer of Covenant

Wednesday, October 6

 

Then he (Moses) took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!”  So Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”  Exodus 24:7-8 (NASB)

 

A covenant of blood sounds awfully binding.  Am I worthy to receive it, much less able to keep it?  In grace I receive it from your hand, Lord.  In your mercy help me to keep it.   

 

Prayers of Intercession:

  • Phil and Mary Christopher’s transition to retirement
  • Our church during this transition period
  • Guidance for the Pastor Search Committee

[email protected]

Week One:  Prayer of Covenant

Thursday, October 7

 

When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it; for He has no pleasure in fools.  It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not fulfill it.  Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 (NRSV)

 

If I have learned anything from my time with you, Lord, it’s that I am no fool.  I am your child growing into a mature reflection of your Son.  This I vow, to be more like Him.  Please forgive my stumbling along the way while I try to fulfill my commitment.  Strengthen me by your Spirit.

 

Prayers of Intercession:

  • Phil and Mary Christopher’s transition to retirement
  • Our church during this transition period
  • Guidance for the Pastor Search Committee

[email protected]

Week One:  Prayer of Covenant

Friday, October 8

 

And He (Jesus) took a cup and gave thanks, and gave it to them saying, “Drink from it all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is to be shed on behalf of many for forgiveness of sins.”  Matthew 26:27-28 (NASB)  

 

A cup of forgiveness and redemption from Jesus himself for all those times I didn’t keep my word; for all the times I tried and failed!  Lord, your lovingkindness is more than I can fathom.  It inspires me to go on trying to please you.  Thank you for your indescribable gift.

 

Prayers of Intercession:

  • Phil and Mary Christopher’s transition to retirement
  • Our church during this transition period
  • Guidance for the Pastor Search Committee

[email protected]

Week One:  Prayer of Covenant

Saturday, October 9

 

My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed:  I will sing and give praise.  Psalms 57:7 (KJV)

 

Can I be confident that my covenant with you, Lord, is secure?  Yes, and it makes me glad!  Jesus makes it so.  Every morning you will hear my voice, O Lord, and I will listen in expectation for yours.  Your Word is a delight to my ears.     

 

Prayers of Intercession:

  • Phil and Mary Christopher’s transition to retirement
  • Our church during this transition period
  • Guidance for the Pastor Search Committee

[email protected]
Week Two:  Prayer of Relinquishment
Sunday, October 10

God tested Abraham’s faith…Take your son – yes, Isaac, whom you love so much – and go to the land of Moriah.  Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.  The next morning Abraham got up early.  He saddled his donkey and took two of his servants with him, along with his son, Isaac.  Then he chopped wood for a fire for a burnt offering and set out for the place in the distance.  Genesis 22:1-4 (NLT)

 

When have I ever been asked to give up so much?  Abraham got up early.  Did he sleep at all that night?  Did he question God at all?  Did he offer himself in place of his son?  I would have – I think.  But there are things in my life of much less value that I am unwilling to surrender.  Could life with God really be better if I gave them up?    

 

Prayers of Intercession:

  • Pastoral/Ministry leaders of our church
  • Senior Pastor Search Committee
  • Faithfulness and vitality of our church in this interim period

[email protected]
Week Two:  Prayer of Relinquishment
Monday, October 11

Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”  Luke 1:38 (NRSV)

 

The angel Gabriel.  The Holy Spirit. A teen-age virgin girl will bear a special child but out of wedlock.  Extraordinary promises mixed with unsettling circumstances.  But whatever must be endured won’t compare with the blessings ahead.  What argument is there in such a situation?  Certainly none.  Yes!  Let it be as you say.  Everything in your hands, Lord.    

 

Prayers of Intercession:

  • Pastoral/Ministry leaders of our church
  • Senior Pastor Search Committee
  • Faithfulness and vitality of our church in this interim period

[email protected]
Week Two:  Prayer of Relinquishment
Tuesday, October 12 

Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done.  Luke 22:42 (NRSV)

 

The incarnate Son of God praying alone through sweat and tears only to be told ‘No.’  God, your will is hard sometimes.  Your plans and mine collide sometimes.  Accepting that your plans for me are best, I still want my way most of the time.  Lord, release me from my stubborn will to seek yours all the time.    

 

Prayers of Intercession:

  • Pastoral/Ministry leaders of our church
  • Senior Pastor Search Committee
  • Faithfulness and vitality of our church in this interim period

[email protected]
Week Two:  Prayer of Relinquishment
Wednesday, October 13

And even the rulers were sneering at Him saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.”  And the soldiers also mocked Him…If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!”  And Jesus crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit My spirit.”  And saying this, He breathed His last.  Luke 23:35-37, 46 (NASB)

 

The moment I yield to your will I am tempted to step back into my own easy way.  Being in your will – shouldn’t that be a safe haven?  I suppose not. The Enemy doesn’t want me there.  He lures me to back to the easy way.  No thanks!  The easy way just gets me into more trouble.  Strengthen me, Lord, to abandon the easy way.    

 

Prayers of Intercession:

  • Pastoral/Ministry leaders of our church
  • Senior Pastor Search Committee
  • Faithfulness and vitality of our church in this interim period

[email protected]
Week Two:  Prayer of Relinquishment
Thursday, October 14

Jesus answered them saying, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.  Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” 

John 12:24 (NASB)

 

Why does it seem so many things must die to make something new?  A single grain sprouts a new plant with many grains to feed many.  An ugly worm spins a cocoon to emerge a beautiful butterfly.  Yet, the worm is gone – forgotten.  What is new puts the old to shame.  Lord, what shameful things in me should die to resurrect something new and better?

 

Prayers of Intercession:

  • Pastoral/Ministry leaders of our church
  • Senior Pastor Search Committee
  • Faithfulness and vitality of our church in this interim period

[email protected]
Week Two:  Prayer of Relinquishment
Friday, October 15

I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.  And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  Galatians 2:20 (NRSV)

 

Dying to self is shocking.  Didn’t You create me as a unique human being?  Must I give up all that is good about me?  I am self-sufficient, self-motivated, self-determined.  Ouch! What am I saying?  When I think of it, those make me self-absorbed, self-indulgent, self-exalted, self-pitied, self-deceived, self-abused, even self-hated.  Dying to self empties me, frees me, releases me from my sinful self.  Christ in me is a better way.

 

Prayers of Intercession:

  • Pastoral/Ministry leaders of our church
  • Senior Pastor Search Committee
  • Faithfulness and vitality of our church in this interim period

   

[email protected]
Week Two:  Prayer of Relinquishment
Saturday, October 16

I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.  Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away.  Each time he said, “My grace is all you need.  My power works best in weakness.”  II Corinthians 12-7-9 (NLT)

 

Stuff gets in the way of everything I want to do for you, Lord.  I am not healthy enough.  I am not smart enough.  I am not rich enough.  I am not popular enough.  I am not attractive enough.  I haven’t time enough.  Thorns.  Oh, God.  Why don’t you fix all this stuff so I can do everything I want to do?  What?  What’s that you’re saying, Lord?  “You have used the word “I” enough.”

    

Prayers of Intercession:

  • Pastoral/Ministry leaders of our church
  • Senior Pastor Search Committee
  • Faithfulness and vitality of our church in this interim period

[email protected]
Week Three:  Prayer of Meditation
Sunday, October 17

For the word of God is living and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)

 

These are hard words, and painful.  As I meditate on them, I find myself reading them over and over.  Then silence.  My brain can’t make sense of them.  I wait.  I’ll come back later and think about them in the meantime.  Is this what it means to “meditate on your word day and night?”  Send your Spirit, Lord.  Teach my heart your truth.    

 

Prayers of Intercession:

  • Lay leaders of our congregation
  • Pastor Search Committee
  • Spiritual direction of our church as we prepare for our new pastor

[email protected]
Week Three:  Prayer of Meditation
Monday, October 18

I remember the days of old.  I ponder all your great works and think about what you have done.  I lift my hands to you in prayer, I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain.  Psalm 143:5-6 (NLT) 

 

Meditating on the past and the things you have done in my church make me glad.  I smile.  Let me take time right now to remember them.  Bring back the joy of each one.  In these quiet moments, even some forgotten ones return.  I try to imagine what lies ahead with eager anticipation.  I could listen to this verse all day long.  How great you are, Almighty God!            

 

Prayers of Intercession:

  • Lay leaders of our congregation
  • Pastor Search Committee
  • Spiritual direction of our church as we prepare for our new pastor

[email protected]
Week Three:  Prayer of Meditation
Tuesday, October 19

I rise before dawn and cry for help; I put my hope in your words.  My eyes are awake before each watch of the night, that I may meditate on your promise.  In your steadfast love hear my voice; O LORD, in your justice preserve my life.  Psalm 119:147-149 (NRSV)

 

There are nights when I am too tired to sleep, but my brain won’t turn off.  I am afraid there won’t be enough rest for tomorrow.  Take this time and make it yours.  Clear my head, Holy Spirit.  Speak and I will rest in your promises, Oh God, for life in the new day.    

 

Prayers of Intercession:

  • Lay leaders of our congregation
  • Pastor Search Committee
  • Spiritual direction of our church as we prepare for our new pastor

[email protected]
Week Three:  Prayer of Meditation
Wednesday, October 20

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my redeemer.  Psalm 19:14 (NKJV)

 

How often I begin my time with you with words, Lord.  My wants, my needs, my, my, my.  I don’t even address you properly as Creator, King, or Father, or express my adoration and praise.  No thought of your holiness and how much my sin has broken communion with you.  Thanking you for hearing my confession, forgiving my sins and for all your blessings ought to preclude my endless list of wants.  Surely the psalmist meant to put ‘meditation of my heart’ before ‘words of my mouth.’  Or, perhaps it just didn’t rhyme as well in Hebrew. 

 

Prayers of Intercession:

  • Lay leaders of our congregation
  • Pastor Search Committee
  • Spiritual direction of our church as we prepare for our new pastor

[email protected]
Week Three:  Prayer of Meditation
Thursday, October 21

When the LORD saw that he (Moses) had turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush, and said, “Moses, Moses!”  And he said, “Here I am.”  Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”  Exodus 3:4-5 (NASB)

 

Lord, let me read this again…and again.  You are calling out to Moses from the bush, then you tell him not to come near.  Why?  It seems you want to make a connection with him, but you warn him to stand back.  Let me think about this.  Hmmm.  While I am silent you seem to be speaking; making a connection with me.  Ah! The sandals!  You want Moses to experience your holiness, but something is blocking the way.  No Israelite has heard from you in 400 years, so there must be no mistaking who you are.  Moses takes off his sandals and the holy connection is made!  Bare flesh and blood touching the Holy One of Israel.  Praise the LORD!  As I pore over your word “in bare feet,” you speak your holiness to me.        

 

Prayers of Intercession:

  • Lay leaders of our congregation
  • Pastor Search Committee
  • Spiritual direction of our church as we prepare for our new pastor

[email protected]
Week Three:  Prayer of Meditation
Friday, October 22

I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.  May my meditation be sweet to Him; I will be glad in the LORD.  Psalm 105:33-34 (NKJV)

 

Lord Jesus, there are times in your presence when I just want to sing a song or a hymn to you; not at church, but when we’re alone.  Is that okay?  Your awesome gift of music just makes the words come alive.  I sing them over and over again, like prayerful meditation.  Just one more thing, Lord.  If you don’t mind too much, you know I sound best in the shower.    

 

Prayers of Intercession:

  • Lay leaders of our congregation
  • Pastor Search Committee
  • Spiritual direction of our church as we prepare for our new pastor    

[email protected]
Week Three:  Prayer of Meditation
Saturday, October 23

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.  On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’  Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’” 

Matthew 7:21-22 (NRSV)

 

More hard words, Lord.  I have to read these over and over.  If those people aren’t worthy of the kingdom, then what about me?  How could they do those things in your name without your power?  Isn’t doing things in your name what you want?  I’m confused.  I have nothing more to say, so I’ll shut up and listen…finally.  Please speak, Lord, and show me the will and wisdom of the Father.   

 

Prayers of Intercession:

  • Lay leaders of our congregation
  • Pastor Search Committee
  • Spiritual direction of our church as we prepare for our new pastor

[email protected]
Week Four:  Prayer of Petition
Sunday, October 24

Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And do not bring us to the time of trial but rescue us from the evil one.  Matthew 6:11-13 (NRSV)

 

It seems most of my time with you, Lord, is asking you for things I want, or need, or think I need.  Don’t you get tired of my continual pleas?  “No.”  I feel like a child in a candy store asking for everything I see, not knowing that too much will make me sick.  But didn’t Jesus teach us to ask?  “Yes.” 

 

Prayers of Intercession:

  • All the various ministries of our congregation
  • Hope Center Project
  • Senior Pastor Search Committee

[email protected]
Week Four:  Prayer of Petition
Monday, October 25

Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions.  Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin…Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and uphold me by Your generous spirit.” 

Psalm 51:1-2, 10-12 (NKJV)

 

Sometimes I don’t pray because you are holy, and I am not.  My sin makes me run from you, not to you.  But David seems to have drawn closer to you when he begged your forgiveness.  As guilty as he was, his desire was to be near to you, to have fellowship once again with you.  Is asking your forgiveness the best request I can make?    

 

Prayers of Intercession:

  • All the various ministries of our congregation
  • Hope Center Project
  • Senior Pastor Search Committee

[email protected]
Week Four:  Prayer of Petition
Tuesday, October 26

And in that day, you will ask Me (Jesus) nothing.  Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.  Until now you have asked nothing in My name.  Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.  John 16:23-24 (NRSV)

 

Well, I have my list all made out.  Just like going to the store I’ve noted all the stuff I need.  But you say to ask in Your name.  Must I lay aside my list and look for yours?  Where is it?  How do I know what you want, and will my list get filled too?  Maybe I’ll just ask for all the things on my want list and let you deal with the stuff I really need – or don’t.  It’s okay if I don’t get everything I want.  Maybe, in time, our lists might look the same.   

 

Prayers of Intercession:

  • All the various ministries of our congregation
  • Hope Center Project
  • Senior Pastor Search Committee

[email protected]
Week Four:  Prayer of Petition
Wednesday, October 27

Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he?  Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he?  If you then, being evil, know how to give good things to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?  Luke 11:11-13 (NASB)

 

I remember this.  It starts out “…Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you…”  But the rest seems to warn me to be careful what I ask for if I expect good things, right?  God must really want me to ask – for things that are good for me; not for things that aren’t.  Blessed Holy Spirit, guide me to pray for the good things the Father wants to give, so I don’t waste our time with the rest.    

 

Prayers of Intercession:

  • All the various ministries of our congregation
  • Hope Center Project
  • Senior Pastor Search Committee

[email protected]
Week Four:  Prayer of Petition
Thursday, October 28

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become My disciples.  John 15:7-8 (NRSV)

 

My eyes go straight to the words, “…ask for whatever you wish…”  I wish for a lot.  The world offers a lot, and I want my share.  But the closer I follow you, Jesus, the more I listen to what you say, the more I want what you want, and the more I want to be like you.  My desires are changing.  Tell me what you desire, Lord.  Tell me more.    

 

Prayers of Intercession:

  • All the various ministries of our congregation
  • Hope Center Project
  • Senior Pastor Search Committee

[email protected]
Week Four:  Prayer of Petition
Friday, October 29

LORD, the God of my salvation, I have cried out by day and in the night before You.  Let my prayer come before You.  Incline Your ear to my cry!

Psalm 88:1-2 (NASB)

 

Are you there?  Hello!  Is anybody home?  I’ve been banging on this door ‘til my knuckles bleed!  Oh!  You are there after all.  What’s that?  I haven’t addressed you properly?  OK.  I just assumed you heard me, but I didn’t ask, did I?  Forgive me, please.  Sometimes I forget who I am, and who you are.  You aren’t just someone waiting for me to dial you up, are you?  You are my Lord and my King.  I bow to you.  Please, Lord, hear me.  I am waiting for your call.  

 

Prayers of Intercession:

  • All the various ministries of our congregation
  • Hope Center Project
  • Senior Pastor Search Committee

[email protected]
Week Four:  Prayer of Petition
Saturday, October 30

Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul.  I cried to him with my mouth, and high praise was on my tongue.  If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the LORD would not have listened.  But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer.  Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me!  Psalm 66:16-20 (ESV)

 

What an awesome thing to know that you listen to me!  You won’t ignore me when first I come to praise you, to confess my sin and ask your forgiveness.  My prayer is heard when I begin with my love for you and my thanks.  After these things I will make my requests to you.            

 

Prayers of Intercession:

  • All the various ministries of our congregation
  • Hope Center Project
  • Senior Pastor Search Committee

Messages

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