I thought I’d take some time over the next week and update on some of the stuff I’ve been working on lately. When we first headed into our final year in Ithaca, we knew there were some pretty big things we’d be working on. And while I think many of them are going well, they have taken a pretty big chunk of time and energy.

So over the next few days, I wanted to comment on some of the bigger things we are working on, and keep you up-to-date on how they are going.

Pastoral Search:
One of the key transitions we want to ensure goes well is finding a new a new lead pastor. In September, we began accepting resumes, and over the past few weeks we have been reviewing them as well as listening to recordings of messages they have given. This month we will be scheduling interviews via Skype with the candidates, and if all goes well, we’ll plan on bringing one of them in in December for an in-person interview. I think the process has gone very well so far, and want to ask you to keep praying for this process and for the Pastoral Search Team (PST).

Speaking of the PST, this has been a great group to work with and we have had a number of great discussions. I have a role that is a bit unique. Often when a pastor leaves a church they go through the search after he is gone. When I was a campus pastor I would often fill in for churches who were in that transition.  Since many of those searches can go on for a while, I would often visit shortly after the pastor had left and then again after he had been gone for a number of months. Often many people had left the church during that time, and ofter there was a sense of “will anyone ever want to come here?” Which of course often led to some pretty unhealthy decisions.

With that as a backdrop, it has been a great process to go through with them. But it has been a bit of  a surreal experience.

  • On  the one hand, you are all working together on a very important decision, but once the decision is implemented and the new person is in place, I leave. (& maybe it’s just me, but this year has already been flying by.) Since I’ve given over a quarter of my life so far to this church, I am very invested in it going forward as well as it possibly can, but my involvement with the Ithaca Vineyard will be very different.
  • There are some interesting shifts that have happened. For example, as the founding and lead pastor of a church you get pretty comfortable saying this is the direction I believe we need to go. However, now it is more important for those who are part of this process, to make many of these decisions. What I think becomes less and less important over time, and the leaders who will still be here need to take on much of that role…
  • And then there are those conversations where we discus the characteristics we want to see in the next pastor. Of course those discussions involve the relative strengths & weaknesses of the current lead pastor:-) To me one of the biggest signs of the health of this team has been their comfort in talking about that in front of me…never in a way that was overly negative…but simply taking an honest look at how things work that we can make the best decision.

And then of course there is the fact that one day last week two different people called me a “lame duck” pastor…one was another Vineyard pastor…but not the same Vineyard pastor who saw me last week and asked, “So when are you leaving?”

  • So, please please praying for this process.
  • Pray for all of the members of the PST, that God would give them each wisdom and peace (and any other good stuff you’d like to throw in).
  • Pray for each of the candidates who have applied that whether they end up here in Ithaca or not, that God would bless them as they walk through this, and prepare a great place of ministry for them.
Let me close with something I’ve been saying to our church throughout this process. I don’t think the Father called our family to Ireland and has no concern for the Ithaca Vineyard. I also don’t believe that He is stressing right now wondering “how can I ever replace Bob Wilson?”  I believe that the person the Father has to be the next lead pastor at the at this church will be uniquely gifted to lead it to the next place that He has for it to be. And while I do hope you miss me, the thing I want to hear when I come back to visit in a couple years is “Clearly the Father was at work in this process…the Wilsons were wired to be planting in Ireland, and the lead pastor here was the right person for the Ithaca Vineyard!