Pastoral Succession

baton 3

This morning the board of the church we call our second home announced that they have found the man to become our lead pastor. Over a year ago the current senior pastor notified the church he will be retiring for health reasons. The succession committee searched extensively for the right person, and unanimously settled on an internal candidate who, based on the applause upon hearing the announcement, everyone was pleased with.

Four criteria were used in the selection process. First, he must be an excellent Bible teacher:

1 Tim 3:2 An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,
• 2 Tim 2:2 The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
• 2 Tim 2:24 The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged,

The board recognized that the key to helping people obey God and growing His church is to expound the Word, and made this the first criterion.

Secondly, he must be a man of integrity:

1 Tim 3:2 An overseer, then, must be above reproach,
• 1 Tim 3:7 And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
• Titus 1:6-7 namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain,

Unlike the world which looks at externals of how impressive an individual is, the board looked at internal qualities – being “above reproach” in his conduct.

Third, he must have a passion for world missions, which is the church’s DNA. The church was founded 87 years ago, and always had a zeal for missions, the heart beat of God. She currently supports over 200 missionaries world-wide, many of whom are members sent out by the church. It saddens me how some churches give lip service to missions, but are so internally focused that they have essentially set aside the Great Commission. I’m glad that the pastor-elect has served in urban ministry for the past 17 years, and will continue the church’s fine tradition.

Lastly, he must be a good leader:

John 10:2-4 But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.

A pastor is many things to the congregation. For a small church he is the preacher, care-giver, counselor, administrator, wearing many hats at the same time. For a large church some of these responsibilities can be delegated to associates looking after functions such as worship, outreach, visitation, family ministry, youth, children, or an executive pastor looking after the staff, but the lead pastor must lead. He needs to cast the vision so that the people can follow. But they will follow only if they know his voice and trust him, which brings us back to the requirement to “preach the Word”.

Interestingly, there was no mention of number of years of pastoral experience, or academic credentials about having a doctorate from a well-known seminary, something very common in pastoral search advertisements. Perhaps because these were never biblical requirements in the first place. Or perhaps because that’s what make this church a great one instead of just a good one. I pray that we can support the new pastor as he follows Christ. That would make the Lord happy!

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