Church News


As presented by Donna Callaway, Vice-Chair of the Pastor Search Committee, on Sunday, January 28, 2018 during the PSC Update at 2:00PM in the Sanctuary.

Welcome and thank you for your patience, your prayers, and your presence today. Most importantly, thank you for allowing us the privilege of serving the Lord and this church in this special way.

Before the update, there are two things to understand: we are not bringing to you a recommendation for pastor today and we will not discuss any past, present, or future candidate today.

That aside join me in a reflection on the journey which is underway at FBCTLH. We all recognize that God often uses a journey to grow our faith and He will extend the length of the journey as needed. We are on that journey today and at this stage, we acknowledge before God and our church that we desire that every word spoken and every meditation be acceptable to Him whom we worship today. We have come to worship our Sovereign Lord. This is His church and we celebrate Him!

Go back in time with me. Year: 2016; Date: March 11; Place: FBCTLH; Occasion: First meeting of the PSC; Charge: Search until you find the man whom God has selected to be the pastor/shepherd of our beloved church.

Looking across the table at that meeting was somewhat overwhelming since some of us did not know each other, our involvement at FBCTLH was all over the map, our personal convictions might not be shared. Awesome moment! It was then that we realized that this task was far greater than any one of us. So, we did the one thing that we knew to do. We did what has become our mode of operation for this journey. We went back to His Word to claim His promise that if we diligently seek Him, we will find Him. We took our charge to the Lord, bowing humbly before Him, believing that He would direct our journey.

Since that time months ago we have grown in our faith and we trust that you have as well. Praying has resulted in GOD DIRECTING OUR WORK! Time after time we have seen just that!

We did not pray and sit down to wait. We put our hand to the plow and dug in. We did not reinvent the wheel, did not call for a consultant for we felt we knew our church better than anyone from the outside. We investigated, read, interviewed our own pastoral staff for input and out of this stage of the journey a clear sequence of steps emerged — Three Phases.

Phase One: Pray, Prepare, Plan. Out of this came the church profile brochure, our procedure for letting it be known that a search was beginning and deciding how we could be contacted easily. We called the church to pray and we made prayer the centerpiece of our search and this resulted in our distribution of a prayer card and a wooden cross. Our desire was that every church member would place these in strategic places so that when they were seen or felt, prayer would rise to the Father for all of us. We saw the possibility that there could be prayers arising all day and even at night. We pulled the PSC out for a day of prayer and asked some of our church members to come and pray with us and for us.

Always aware that we needed the involvement of our church, we prepared a survey asking for input. We wanted each church member to prayerfully respond so we distributed it through Bible Study classes, to assisted living facilities, made it available throughout the church, and after a reasonable time we compiled the returned surveys into a matrix format.

Phase Two began: Search and Discern. The call went out and God answered with a challenge. 797 candidates applied with a resume. This led to a discussion about how to handle this volume and the decision was made that each PSC member would read all 797 resumes because we did not want to miss God’s man. We wanted to continue moving forward together. Each of us ranked all 797 into a “yes” or “hold” division.

If we received a verbal recommendation we asked for a resume. As each of us added these readings to our lives we found that what might have overwhelmed us had the opposite effect. We experienced God’s care in personal ways. This would take more time than we thought, more family cooperation than we thought, more energy, more determination than we thought we were capable of — so back on our knees.

This was His business, so we claimed the promise that when He gives His child a task He would supply all of that child’s needs. This was a GIANT LEAP OF FAITH. We found Him faithful in the small things and the large things and we found ourselves exactly where He wanted us: COMPLETELY DEPENDENT ON HIM.

The next step in this second stage was to take the “yes” group to a vote of the committee. Those with a 2/3 vote would move to the next level and would be taken to the matrix developed from the church survey. Each of the 2/3 group was scored on the matrix — no right or wrong answers — just information. Categories were: age, family status, educational background, professional background, especially as a senior pastor, any special anointing like missionary work, book publications, and examples of how their churches had grown and baptisms increased.

Candidates were ranked and a top-tier emerged. We were then ready to communicate with them so a letter was sent with a basic set of questions. A set of candidate questions from all stages will be available today. When responses returned from these initial questions we had lengthy discussions of any and all information, especially how we perceived they would fit into FBCTLH. This was where the makeup of the committee was so valuable — we represented all areas of the church! We ranked again and those who scored at the top went to the next step in stage two which was a Skype interview where we would begin talking with them face to face.

All PSC members were present and active in these interviews. More in-depth questions were asked. After each Skype interview, and there were 6, we determined what the next step would be: More questions? Another Skype? Move forward or stop?

Those with whom we decided to move forward were issued a formal invitation to come individually and privately for an overnight visit to Tallahassee, a fellowship meal, a 5 to 7-hour interview and a late-night visit to FBCTLH. There were three at this level.

Three candidates have come to us to date. This is where we realized more than ever that we needed the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit. Of those three, we are not pursuing any of them at this time. With number two we stopped pursuing after his visit and number three withdrew himself after his visit. It was in number one that we learned that when we turn our will over to His, He follows through. We were so close to considering that he would be the one we would take to the church to present as our next pastor. We were looking at dates, exploring a financial package, determining what we could provide for his family in terms of schools. AND GOD CLOSED THE DOOR.

Definitely closed it. The reasons for ending the search with this one and the others are personal and private and we will not discuss them out of respect for the candidate himself, for his family, and for his church. We were touching real lives and we bowed to the Lord’s wisdom.

We were so passionate about number one that when God closed the door one of our members remarked that “it was gut-wrenching!” But we are all aware that God teaches us more often than not through the HARD TIMES.

Are we down-hearted? How could we be when we see God’s hand moving over everything? We are extremely excited about two candidates we are working with right now. We have not changed the process.

When will we reach stage three? And what is that stage? It is when we make the presentation to FBCTLH of the man whom we feel God has had His hand on all along — the man we will unanimously present to our church as our next senior pastor. How long? We don’t know and we are not worried. We just know it is not today. Lessons learned: We opened all available doors and access to us. Send out the word and they will come. That was our task. We have left the closing of doors to the One we worship today. We have faith that if we obey Him He will open the door of blessings to this church and we claim that promise as a united committee.

In examining our minutes and agendas to prepare for this presentation one consistent belief was expressed at the beginning and the ending of all our meetings. If we ask the Lord to direct our journey we are really asking Him to go BEFORE US. We ask Him to open and close doors according to His will. The director of any group stands BEFORE the group. He has been found faithful in going before us.

However, we also believe that whether we have a senior pastor in this pulpit or not, our instructions are very specific and can be found in an old hymn title “We’ll Work ’til Jesus Comes.” Let’s use our collective energy to build His kingdom right here and right now.

Don’t worry about your PSC! We are alive and well, energized and eager, excited and united!

Another hymn title “What a Day That Will Be.” The day we present God’s man to you will be a day like no other! It will have happened in God’s Way and in God’s timing! What a day it will be to celebrate not the church, not the committee, but to celebrate the ONE WE WORSHIP TODAY, THE ONE WHO LOVES US AND SUSTAINS US. OUR PRECIOUS LORD, OUR CORNERSTONE, OUR TOUCHSTONE, OUR SOLID ROCK, OUR ROCK OF AGES! THIS IS HIS WORK!