At the October 28, 2018 Annual Meeting, Pastor Bill Bertsche spoke on behalf of the Elders to update the congregation on the status of the pastoral search. The content of this post is taken from his comments to the congregation.
At the October 2017 Annual Meeting, the Elders announced—and The Moody Church membership affirmed—their desire to move from searching for a Senior Pastor to a Lead Pastor/Lead Teaching Pastor model (also called the Shared Leadership Model). The proposal read as follows:
The Pastoral Search Committee will focus on finding a Lead Teaching Pastor whose primary responsibility will be to preach in the main worship services of the church. If a candidate is identified and accepted by the Elders, they will propose that candidate for Lead Teaching Pastor and simultaneously propose Pastor Bill Bertsche for Lead Pastor. Both candidates will then be voted on by the Leadership Council and the Congregation.
The Pastoral Search Committee then began searching for a Lead Teaching Pastor. They considered about 40 potential candidates for that position, including some of whom had been previously considered for the Senior Pastor position. Pastor Michael Best was one of those who expressed an interest in the Lead Teaching Pastor position.
After nearly five months of searching for a Lead Teaching Pastor, the Elders were led to prayerfully consider modifying the Shared Leadership Model for the following reasons:
- Concerns were raised that having the Lead Pastor preach less often than the Lead Teaching Pastor could effectively make leading the church more difficult.
- The Elders had a growing sense that the Lord already provided the pastors to take on the responsibility of preaching God’s Word, primarily Bill Bertsche, Michael Best, and others.
The Elders came to the Leadership Council with their modified suggestion—that the Lead Pastor would preach about half the time, with a teaching team preaching the other half—and requested their prayerful consideration and input. Over the last few months, the Leadership Council considered that proposal as well as variations to it.
Ultimately, the Elders made a final revision to the proposal and brought it to the Leadership Council for a vote on Monday October 8. Put simply, the Elders proposed to call Pastor Bill Bertsche as the Senior Pastor of The Moody Church; as such, he would assume all constitutional responsibilities of the Senior Pastor position. Pastor Bertsche would preach on average three times each month, with the other Sundays being filled by Moody Church staff pastors and some outside preachers.
Constitutionally, 75% approval of the voting members of the Leadership Council was required to pass the proposal and bring it to the congregation. However, it did not pass, receiving only 64% approval.
After the vote, the Elders asked the members of the Leadership Council to complete an anonymous survey explaining why they voted as they did. The Elders have received most of the expected replies and are still learning from them.
So, where do we go from here?
- In God’s providence, our preaching schedule is already set through February 2019. We will finish up our Be The Church series in Acts at the end of November, then move into the Christmas season. In January we will begin an exciting seven-week series called Explore God!, which will help each of us to be better equipped to answer the top questions non-Christians ask about our faith.
- Pastor Ed Stetzer will continue to serve as our Interim Teaching Pastor.
- The Elders and the Leadership Council will take the next few months to pray and discuss together where we are and where we believe the Lord is leading us—including whether to return to a Senior Pastor search or to revisit the Shared Leadership Model.
We should all be thankful for the godly leaders that the Lord has given us, men who love and care for our church and take their responsibilities very seriously. These men dedicated themselves to prayer and put in a lot of time working through this. The reality is, God’s people do not always agree on how the Lord is leading us, but we trust that He is speaking to us through the process in place. We remain confident of this: our church will, in God’s perfect timing, know and receive His will, because that is what we all truly want. God delights to answer when we pray according to His will.
As we move forward as a church, unified in our mission and prayerfully seeking the Lord’s will, let us be encouraged by Isaiah 40:31: But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Rest in God’s sovereignty, His providence, and His time. All for His glory.