Why do we need a second pastor?
God has blessed our church with steady growth the last couple years and significantly now as we have moved into our new ministry center. It is vital that Pastor Ben has adequate time and energy to focus on the things that will help our church continue to carry out our outreach mission of sharing Christ’s victory with more people. That means we also need a second pastor to help shepherd the many new people that we are reaching through our outreach efforts so that they can get connected, grow, and become serving members of the Body of Christ.
What will the second pastor’s position description look like?
We are not looking to simply split pastoral duties with Pastor Ben 50/50. We have instead crafted an associate pastor position to compliment Pastor Ben who will serve as the lead pastor so that each pastor will have specific areas of responsibility according to their gifts and passions. The associate pastor’s primary ministry areas will be in discipleship especially in regards to small group Bible studies, assimilation of new members, volunteerism, and starting a Jesus Cares Ministry for people with special needs.
How will we fund the associate pastor position?
Through a combination of special grants, increased financial giving by our members as we continue to grow in numbers and in faith, and careful stewardship of the gifts given to support our mission.
What is a divine “call?”
Extending a divine call to someone is similar to making a job offer for a pastor, but it’s also more than that. Unlike a job offer, a divine call is extended to someone who will have significant Word and Sacrament responsibilities and will serve as a public representative of God in the church. Based on Scripture, we believe that the Holy Spirit calls through his church so that whoever accepts our call to be our second pastor can be assured that it is God’s will for them to serve here now. They can be confident that God guided the human decisions that went into extending the call as well as the human decisions that led the person to accept the call. We read this in the book of Acts where the Apostle Paul told the pastors of the church in Ephesus: “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood” (Acts 20:28).
A divine call therefore comes from God through the church even though the call process itself involves human elements and decisions. A divine call is also considered permanent in the sense that it is not extended on a trial basis.
Will we call a Seminary graduate or someone who’s already a pastor?
We will be extending a call to someone who is already serving as a WELS pastor somewhere else. Our reasons are that we think we would benefit from someone 1) who has ministry experience especially in dealing with healthy church processes, people and counseling ; 2) who will have the opportunity to consider whether they would be a good fit at our church in terms of both our church culture and regarding their own ministry gifts and passions; And finally 3) Because this year’s Seminary graduating class is small and we’ve been told it is unlikely that we would receive a graduate due to the large number of churches who’ve already put in requests.
Who does the call process / timeline look like?
In our church, Victory of the Lamb, our Leadership Team is the authoritative decision making body and has the right to call pastors, teachers, staff ministers, etc. representing the needs and wishes of the congregation. However, as a member of the Wisconsin Synod – Southeastern Wisconsin District, our church is also overseen by our District President, Rev. David Rutschow. Likewise we also receive guidance and support with accountability from our District Mission Board since we are still considered a mission church that was started with the synod’s financial support.
Thus we’ve been working with our District President and our Mission Board for a couple months in this process. With our District President’s help we will soon be setting up a “Call meeting” where a list of potential pastor candidates is presented to our Leadership Team. The call list is prepared by our District President who tries to match a number of potential pastor candidates with our position description. We can also submit particular names for consideration by the District President on the call list ahead of time. That does not mean they will necessarily be on the call list however, because the District President has the responsibility of determining if there are reasons they cannot or should not be on the call list. For example, we can’t call someone who has received another divine call within the last 6 months even if they declined that previous call.
Finally then, at the “Call meeting,” after prayer and conversation, the Leadership Team will vote to decide which man we will call to be our associate pastor. He will receive a phone call that day from our Leadership Team. We will then share our packet of information with him. He will announce to his congregation that he has another call and after that we will announce who we have called. Typically then his deliberation of our call might take 3-4 weeks. During this time he will be prayerfully seeking to discern where he can best serve with joy using his gifts. We will communicate back and forth with him to help him discern whether he would be a good fit in our church. During this time we will invite everyone to pray for God’s blessings on the deliberation process.
If he declines our call then we would have another “Call meeting” as soon as possible to begin anew with a new call list. Thus the whole process can take months if a couple people decline our call. It is at least something to be prepared for.
After a person accepts our call it will also take some time to plan a move and their transition here. Their housing situation will be determined once we know who have called and what their needs are—whether they’re single, have a family, etc. After our second pastor arrives, we will have an installation service and a big celebration for everyone to get to meet our new pastor!