In 2015, when Pastor Erwin Lutzer announced his transition to Pastor Emeritus, The Moody Church began a process to find a replacement Senior Pastor. That process is overseen by the Pastoral Search Committee and the Elders. Below you’ll find resources and information about the process and important updates.
Pastoral Search Process
In August 2019, we relaunched the Senior Pastor search process with the Vanderbloemen Search Group and new members of the Pastoral Search Committee (the “PSC”).
Below you’ll find more information about the extensive vetting process undertaken by the PSC, the Elder Oversight Council (the “Elders”), and the Leadership Council (the “LC”). In addition, you’ll learn a bit more about the church membership’s vital role in this endeavor.
There are five stages in the pastoral search process. Every stage will be covered in prayer seeking the Lord’s wisdom and guidance. The process may be subject to change in the months ahead as we work with the final candidates, but right now this is our best plan of how it will unfold.
The PSC is composed of men and women from the Elders, Deacons, and Deaconesses: Berv Peterson (Chairman), Joseph Carré, Steve Giere, Tom Sawyer, Les Carter, Mike Fiorini, Charlotte Arman, Phyllis Watkins, and Ruth Zahn.
The Elders have chosen the Vanderbloemen Search Group (“Vanderbloemen”) to assist us in identifying candidates for the Senior Pastor position.
Vanderbloemen’s process includes:
- Developing a good understanding of our search criteria through discussions with the PSC and Elders.
- Sourcing potential candidates from their proprietary database as well as their extensive networks.
- Evaluating candidates for their strengths and weaknesses as well as overall fit. This will involve listening to sermons, performing social media checks, reviewing websites, and interviewing the candidates (and, if married, their wives).
- Presenting a group of vetted candidates to the PSC for deeper consideration. It is anticipated that there will be between four and seven candidates presented in the initial batch.
The PSC-level investigation includes the following:
- Reviewing all material prepared by Vanderbloemen on each of the candidates. This will involve listening to multiple sermons, reading résumés, viewing church websites, and exploring other available information such as podcasts, blogs, or books written by the candidates.
- The PSC will then determine which of the candidates it wants to consider further. For example, if seven candidates are presented, some may be dropped from the list based on the PSC’s initial investigation.
- At this point, the Elders will be asked to evaluate the preaching qualifications of this smaller group of candidates in order to determine if any other candidates should be removed from the list before the PSC exploration continues.
- The next step for the PSC will be to conduct an introductory 45- to 60-minute video interview with each candidate. It is anticipated that more candidates may be removed from consideration at this point.
- A second, more in-depth video interview will be conducted for the remaining candidates.
- The final evaluation step will be a face-to-face, day-long interview with the remaining candidates.
- Once the PSC has fully vetted all final candidates, it will refer one or more candidates to the Elders for their final consideration.
This third stage of the search process provides ample time for the Elders to investigate and review the candidate(s) recommended by the PSC.
- The Elders will review all of the information and evaluations accumulated by Vanderbloemen and the PSC for the final candidate(s).
- The candidate(s) and his family will be brought to Chicago for a weekend visit. This will include activities such as dinners, interviews, touring Chicago, visiting the church, and attending a morning service.
- A small group of about six people will visit the candidate(s) in his home as well as attend a worship service at his home church.
- The Elders will ask Vanderbloemen to conduct final reference checks and a detailed social media investigation.
- With a minimum three-quarters vote of the Elders, a final candidate is passed along to the LC (consisting of the Elders, Deacons, Trustees, and Pastoral Staff) to be vetted and interviewed before a vote.
This body of men represents a larger cross-section of membership at The Moody Church. At this stage of the process:
- The LC will receive from the Elders a comprehensive research packet about the final candidate, most likely the Monday immediately preceding the Sunday before the candidate is presented to the church membership.
- The candidate will arrive in Chicago for an in-person interview with the entire LC either the Friday or Saturday before the candidate will be considered by the membership on Sunday.
- Following the interview, the LC will vote.
- A three-quarters vote is required to pass the candidate along for final consideration by the membership.
The PSC, Elders, and LC will present the final candidate to the Members of The Moody Church (the “Members”) for a vote of affirmation.
The Members will be notified two weeks prior and again one week prior that a Membership Meeting will be held at which the Members will vote on the candidate.
On that Sunday:
- The nominated candidate will deliver the Sunday morning sermon.
- Following the service, there will be time for Q&A with the candidate (and, if married, his wife).
- Afterwards, the candidate (and his wife) will leave the meeting, and the Members will then vote.
- Members must be present to vote. Only registered Members are eligible to cast a vote. If you wish to vote but have never officially joined the church, plan to attend the next membership class.
- Constitutionally, the candidate needs to receive two-thirds support from the Members.
Logistically it’s impossible for each Member to thoroughly vet a candidate, and not everyone can meet the candidate in advance.
But be encouraged! There are dozens of men and women from all walks of life in leadership positions at The Moody Church. You’ve already placed your trust in them to lead the church, and that’s what they’ve been doing in faithfully and prayerfully implementing this search process.
In the end, The Moody Church has faith that its Members will affirm the leadership’s recommendation of the final candidate.
Nevertheless, the role of the Members is vital. So, on that final Sunday, ask yourself: is there any reason, based on what I know so far about the vetting process, the church leadership, and the candidate, why I couldn’t vote to affirm the nomination?
Remember, your vote counts, both as a vote of support for the people and process behind the search, and as a vote of confidence in the selected candidate. The Moody Church can’t and won’t move forward without the support of the Members.
Please pray for the PSC, Elders, and LC, that they may discern the Lord’s will for the Senior Pastor position at The Moody Church. Pray also for our congregation, that we all might prepare our hearts and minds to move into this new era of The Moody Church history with zeal for what the Lord will do through us in Chicago and around world. To God be the glory.