Lead Pastor Search Team Updates ~
As our church continues in this time of transition, we, on the Search Team, are trying our best to keep in step with God’s timing. As much as we’d like to speed things along, the process we’ve been following, which is suggested by the Covenant denomination, has provided a good framework for moving forward in a very thorough and thoughtful manner. While there is room to tailor the process to each church, most churches in our denomination use this basic step-by-step process when they are looking for a new pastor.
We are about 10 months into what is typically a 12-18 month process. As we’ve mentioned before, the rule of thumb for setting a timeframe is that it takes approximately one month’s time for every year the leaving pastor served at the church. Pastor Mark was the church-planting pastor at Community Covenant’s inception and continued to lead our church for 17 years, so according to the rule of thumb we can expect our search to take 17 months, give or take. At this point and if things continue to go well, we are on track for getting a pastor within that timeframe.
We have finished our paper screening, done meet-and-greet-style interviews with the candidates on our shortlist, and are now starting our more formal interviews. Once we’ve asked enough questions to declare a frontrunner, the plan is to organize a site visit. No doubt, if the candidate hasn’t been to AK, they will want to come check it out. Pray for one of God’s beautiful sunny Alaska days to coincide with the visit:). As we are trying to figure who we like for the position through these interviews and site visits, the candidates themselves are entering into their own process of discernment. They are weighing their current life circumstances and all the relationships they are invested in against whether they should be uprooting their lives and families to start on a new adventure with us. If both parties are still a go after the site visit, we will start to talk about hiring details and a candidating weekend, where the pastor will meet the staff and congregants, and will preach on a Sunday. More details will be outlined when we get closer to that step in the process, but it is at this point we will ask the congregation for their input and to vote yeah or nay.
In order to allow our interviewees the freedom to explore the possibilities without fear of jeopardizing their current ministries, it remains important that we keep their names and locations and the rest of their specifics confidential. Even though we are having a lot of the discussions behind closed doors, we still covet your prayers, and we have a couple specific prayer requests, if you’re willing.
If you’re not already, would you be praying for the right fit—that we would be guided towards the candidate who is the right fit for our congregation, for Eagle River, and for Alaska. And, would you be praying that the person God is calling to this congregation would really get a sense of God’s calling. We talk about a lot of factors when we are discussing these candidates, but one question that often comes up is, “Will they love Alaska?” We really want somebody who has or can develop that Alaska spirit. A person who can handle the long winters: a person who is not too picky about fresh fruits and veggies. We all know Alaska is a great state and that it has a lot to offer; however, there have been a couple of people we’ve reached out to who have felt it’s a little too far North. And, that’s okay. We don’t need everyone to feel called up here. We just want the one to hear the call loud and clear. So if you could pray for those two things—a good fit and sense of God’s calling—and whatever else you feel like we need prayer for, we would really appreciate that.
On a different note, the composition of the Search Team is undergoing a couple of changes this month. Some of you may have heard that longtime member and Church Leadership Team Chair, Karl Swenson, is moving to Minnesota at the end of the month. Larry Wood will step into his position, and, so too, will fill Karl’s slot on the Search Team. After getting us off to a great start, Search Team Chair Ben Schoffmann has stepped down from the Team for personal reasons. Ben has assured us that he is in full support of the current search team process and team members, and that his decision to step down in no way reflects any concerns in that area. I, Megan Lang, have been selected to serve as the Chair as a result. I look forward to continuing to work with such a great group of individuals and to carrying out this task to completion.
Finally, the results of the survey have now been converted into graphs that are informative and pleasing to the eye :) by our in-home Excel-expert Jim Lomen. Please come check out what our congregation had to say on June 9th at the Annual Meeting. Thank you all for your support and prayers!
Lead Pastor Search Team Update
This is an exciting time, and we are seeing God work in wonderful and interesting ways as we seek the person God has chosen to be our Lead Pastor here at Community Covenant Church. Behind the scenes, our team continues to make a lot of progress in the search. Since Cheri and I met with some candidates and key leaders to advise us at the Midwinter Conference in early February, we have:
Received and reviewed resumes of over a dozen interested and recommended candidates,
Made contacts with the candidates to confirm their interest/availability,
Conducted a preliminary ranking exercise, both as a team and with input from other key leaders who know our church and the candidates, based on a number of factors,
Had "Meet and Greet" engagements via Skype (isn't technology great!?) with the top tier of candidates, and
Narrowed our search to a short list no more than 3 potential candidates with whom we would plan to prayerfully continue the evaluation process.
Our next steps include gathering more information on the short list candidates' work, gifts and passions to help determine their fit with our requirements and church vision. We will also interview at least 2 candidates in the coming weeks using both remote technology like Skype, but eventually also by meeting face-to-face.
Please pray for direction, not only for our team and church, but for the candidates. We are encouraged that these candidates are also prayerfully asking God if this opportunity is something He is providing, and if this is the time and place to pursue a new call and adventure. As always, there are circumstances and questions that must be navigated, but God is faithful, and He has a history of doing things in His time and His way, not the way we would always have done it on our own.
In closing, thank you for your support, patience and prayers.
PS - Oh yes, and we still have the survey to tell you about. You'll hear more on that topic again in a future update and at our annual church meeting.
Regards, Ben Schoffmann
February 2013 Lead Pastor Search Team Update
After clicking, tapping, or writing in your feedback, the congregation completed over 345 surveys-well above our goal of 300! We sincerely thank all of you who participated in the church-wide survey. As a body of believers, we each represent a different part of the whole. Are you a hand? A foot? The brains? Or perhaps you fancy yourself the batting eyelashes or the left pinky. With such a good response rate, we feel confident that we have captured the thoughts and opinions from a broad range of perspectives, from the person who serves as a grater to the teenager who adds their bright personality to the Youth Group on Sunday nights. We are encouraged by the honest feedback and the show of support and interest through participation.
As we seek to give everyone a chance to provide input, we have also made concurrent efforts to reach out to potential Lead Pastor candidates. Through posting our church profile, talking with several Covenant superintendants, and making connections at the Covenant Midwinter conference, we have gathered several promising resumes for our review. Our next step is to pour over these resumes and formulate interview questions. Since its formation, the Search Team has endeavored to be transparent and to invite congregational participation; however, as we move into the stage where we are screening specific individuals, we will-for a time-need to keep names and personal details confidential in order to protect their privacy. We ask for your continued prayer support as we take this exciting next step. Please pray that we are responsive to the Lord's leading as we attempt to match our congregation with a solid spiritual leader.
January 2013 Lead Pastor Search Team Update
Now that the holidays have come and gone, things are about to heat up! Well, at least as far as the Lead Pastor Search activities go, that is.
In January, you will hopefully see and actively participate in our Church Survey. This survey is your chance to tell us what you hope to see in our new lead pastor, and provide thoughts on how we are doing (both going well and room to improve) relative to our mission and values. The survey will open on January 20th and continue for about 2 weeks. We’ll be giving information on what we are hoping for, how you can participate, and the like during our services beginning January 6th. In addition, we plan to provide greater detail at our Semi-Annual Church Meeting on January 20th. Please make plans to attend!
Once we get the surveys back and begin reviewing them, we will also be planning to hold some focus groups to make sure we truly understand the feedback we get. This will enable us to get insight in “the why” behind “the what” and hear some testimonials on what is important to our congregation. We’ll keep you posted on those opportunities in the weeks to come.
We are also finalizing some information that Cheri McDonald and I (Ben Schoffmann) will bring to the denomination’s Midwinter Conference in San Diego, which runs from February 4 – 8. We hope to meet with leaders and potentially interested candidates to tell them more about our church and our community to set the stage for our initial slate of potential candidates for review.
In closing, on behalf of the Lead Pastor Search Team, I want to thank the group that has been meeting regularly to pray for us and our church in this time of transition. And thanks to those who have been praying on their own, in their families or with their small groups. As James 5:16b says, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” We can ask for no greater support from our friends and church family in the coming weeks and months. Thank you again.
Lead Pastor Search Team Chair
December 2012 Lead Pastor Search Team update
It is hard to believe that Thanksgiving has come and gone and Christmas is not all that far off - Merry Christmas!
This month’s update will be fairly brief. In addition to our normal advent preparations this year, the Lead Pastor Search Team will continue to lay the ground work to interview potential candidates for our Lead Pastor opening. Most of our preparation and activity is still “behind the scenes,” focused mainly on ensuring that we will give those who attend a chance to be heard and to ensure we have properly captured the heart of Community Covenant’s values and mission.
Progress this past month includes
1. Our “Church Profile” and Lead Pastor Vacancy have been posted with the denomination, which means interested pastors can now apply for the opening. Applications will be received by Curtis Ivanoff, the ECCAK (Evangelical Covenant Church of Alaska) director here in the Anchorage area, who will in turn provide qualified candidates to our team.
2. Our church survey has been tested and refined. It is being put into final form for roll-out in January. (Please plan to come to the church meeting in January to hear more!). This will be your chance to share your views and insights.
3. We have met with the core Pastoral staff to listen to their hearts and views on key characteristics they feel are important in our next Lead Pastor. This was a great discussion. If you don’t know it already, we have an awesome team. God has truly blessed us.
4. Cheri McDonald and I (Ben Schoffmann) are scheduled to go to the Midwinter Conference in February to provide more information on our church to denominational leaders and possibly prospective candidates.
As always, we covet your prayers. Thanks for your continued commitment, service and patience as we move through this transition in our church life.
Lead Pastor Search Team Chair
November 2012 Lead Pastor Search Team update
We are now in a season of transition as a church. This page will be a place where we will will post updates on what is going on during this transition. If you have more questions, please contact Karl Swenson, Chair of the CCC Leadership Team, at 907.726.5959, or Ben Schoffmann, Chair of the Lead Pastor Search Team, at 907.748.3589.
As our team continues to meet every week or two, it is amazing how fast the time seems to be passing. With the holidays coming, we are attempting to be diligent to get some major tasks done so we can all enjoy the season with our families, just as we pray you will.
Here is some of what we’ve been working on:
1. A church profile, which will shortly be posted on the denomination’s website to formally advertise that we have a lead pastor vacancy.
2. A survey to gain valuable feedback on our church and input on what sort of characteristics would be important in our search for a new lead pastor. We plan to release this in January, when we have our semi-annual church meeting.
3. A packet of community information to give prospective candidates a better idea of the area they will be serving.
In addition, two of our team also plan to attend our denomination’s Midwinter Conference in early February to coordinate with other leaders, further publicize our vacancy and potentially meet some individuals who may be interested in applying for the position.
Our goal is to choose the right person, at the right time and in the right way. We believe that God does have a plan and we don’t want to get ahead of Him or lag behind when He is leading us forward.
To that end, I am reminded of the apostles’ dilemma in Acts chapter 1, beginning at verse 12. In their haste to fill an opening in the 12-member group, they raised two candidates and then drew lots to see who would be the new 12th apostle. It was Matthias. You know the one who did…. No, that’s not it. Oh yeah, wasn’t he the one who wrote…. No, no that is not it. Oh, maybe he…. No, not that either. Hmmm. Come to think of it, who is Matthias? I wonder - did they choose the right person?
Interestingly, just a few days before, Jesus told the disciples to go to Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit to come on them. Ten days later, it happened! But in the meantime, the apostles took it upon themselves to appoint Matthias. But what if they had waited? Would it have turned out differently?
Why do I share this? Hudson Taylor once said, “God’s will, done God’s way, will never lack God’s provision.” We believe that good things do come to those who wait, and while waiting, seek the Lord. He is for us, not against us. He will tell us what we need to hear, if we just take the time to ask.
Thank you to all, who by their prayers for us and our church, are helping us ask the One who knows the plan and the future.
Lead Pastor Search Team Chair
October 1, 2012 Update from Lead Pastor Search Team
On behalf of the Lead Pastor Search Team, I want to thank you so much for your support and prayers for our team and our church in this time of transition. We were so encouraged by the vote of confidence and corporate time of prayer at the August 26 congregational meeting. It was truly moving and inspiring to see the church united in purpose and spirit. God is good, and we are depending upon His grace and power as we embark on this faith journey to find our future lead pastor.
"So what is the Search Team doing?" you ask. Good question. We have been meeting every week or two, mostly to form our team and formulate a plan to help the church through the process to find our new lead pastor. Specifically, we are:
- Connecting with denominational leaders as well as staff and search team members from other churches who’ve recently filled pastoral vacancies. We are learning about their processes--what to expect, what worked and what didn't, and what they would do differentl--to help fine tune our process.
- Brainstorming and preparing opportunities (e.g., surveys, focus groups, etc.) for the entire church to have input to the search process.
- Gathering and preparing the needed church and community information to create and post a detailed pastor vacancy with the denomination; this will allow us to begin accepting resumes from potential candidates early next year.
- Making plans to be represented at the Evangelical Covenant's Mid-Winter Conference (in early February) in order to highlight our church and its mission to potential candidates.
So how can you help? We humbly ask three things:
- Please be prepared to give us open and honest feedback as we seek your input to the search process later this year and early next.
- Please continue to pray for us and the church in this time of transition.
- Please remember that Community Covenant Church has a mission – we are not "on hold." We ask you to join us and the many others who are investing in the life of our church, especially at this time. We have a great opportunity to be the Body of Christ by combining our respective gifts and talents – the Spirit's fruit in us – to show the world the Good News of Jesus’ love and resurrection power. What a privilege!
Thanks again for your support and prayers.
Lead Pastor Search Team Chair
August 30, 2012 Update - Lead Pastor Search Team Approved
At Sunday's congregational meeting, the CCC congregation approved and prayed over the Lead Pastor Search Team to begin its work of searching for the next permanent lead pastor for CCC. The team is made up of Ben Schoffmann, Sandy Gold, Jim Lomen, Megan Lang, Karl Swenson, Cheri McDonald, Kevin Krumanaker, Hannah Dompier, and Tim Barto. Please pray for the team as they have a lot of work ahead. Here is a more detailed breakdown on what the process typically looks like:
- CCC members approve and empower the Lead Pastor Search Team.
- Lead Pastor Search Team begins gathering information for the purpose of clarifying the core identity of CCC and important information about the Eagle River-Chugiak community. This includes inviting input from the congregation through surveys and interviews to identify perceived preferences and needs within the core mission of the church. This is also an important time of prayer for the church as we seek together to hear the voice of God in each other.
- Search Team begins requesting, reviewing and prioritizing lead pastor candidates narrowing the list to just a few names.
- Search Team makes phone contact, conducts phone interviews and potentially brings these candidates for a face-to-face visit to further discern the movement of God in the process. This is not usually a public visit but a visit with the Search Team only.
- Search Team identifies and invites one candidate to visit CCC to "candidate" as Lead Pastor for the purpose of recommending this candidate to the congregation as the permanent Lead Pastor.
- CCC members vote to extend a call to the candidate. Assuming the candidate accepts the call, the new Lead Pastor will be in place soon after.
August 15, 2012 Update - Transitional Lead Pastor Hired
We are excited to share the news that the CCC Leadership Team has hired Pastor Brad Bergfalk as the full-time Transitional Lead Pastor at Community Covenant Church.
Brad recently completed serving as the Interim Lead Pastor at Pine Lake Covenant Church in Sammamish, WA (yes, this is the church where Pastor Mark Meredith recently became Lead Pastor) where he did an outstanding job preparing the way for Pastor Mark.
In addition to his recent experience as a transitional/interim pastor, Brad has another ten years experience as a lead pastor, experience as pastor of youth and mission, and experience as a church planter and chaplain. Brad is a life-long learner and has a Master of Divinity from North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, IL and a Doctorate of Ministry from Drew University in Madison, NJ.
Brad is married to Roxanna(Roxi) and they have three children: their oldest daughter is a senior in college, their middle son is a sophomore in college, and their youngest son is a senior in high school. They have lived in the Seattle area the past five years and lived in the Northeast for about eighteen years prior to that. I've attached a picture of Brad and Roxi. Brad and Roxi are truly looking forward to serving us in Alaska for this temporary period of time.
We anticipate Brad's first Sunday with us will be September 9. Roxi will be joining him in Alaska in October. Please be in prayer for them and prepare to welcome them into our community. They will be a gift to us as a church.