March 5, 2018
To the Members of Palm West Community Church:
In the past year your Diaconate and Vision Leadership Team, and the various Ministries and Committees, have been looking with me at the vision God has for us. We have seen it in the responses to the Church Health Assessment we completed last winter, the input of various focus groups, and even through the challenges we face. The consensus of both the Diaconate and Vision Leadership Team is that we move toward that vision in the next few years and beyond. God’s vision will affect our major decisions, what we hope to accomplish, what we do and what we choose not to do so that vision can become a reality. God calls us not only to take care of our people but also to reach out to our community with His love, using the gifts, talents and abilities He has given us.
Here are four major areas that impact our vision. God wants us to see these major realities and respond effectively as He leads us.
First, there is the increasing physical, emotional and spiritual care needs of our congregation, including the challenges associated with increasing age, physical limitations, and health concerns. We see the value in having a part-time Faith Community Nurse on staff who can respond to these needs, be familiar with and recommend the many resources of our community and who will visit people in homes, hospitals, and rehabilitation and care centers. This role will be a tremendous help to our pastors, and to our Stephen Ministers and Pastoral Assistance Team.
Second, there is a growing excitement among those who have and are leading in our Women’s Ministries as evidenced from recent meetings and focus groups. We see the value of strengthening the Women’s Ministry of our church by considering a part-time Director of Women’s Ministry to oversee our volunteers, foster discipleship, and develop our women leaders.
Third, there is no question that as our current congregation and community grows older and in time passes on, younger people are already and, in increasing numbers, moving in. They will impact our church. They will tend to be less like us, have different needs and expectations of church, and may not even seek out churches at all, which calls us to go and seek them out.
While we cannot ignore the coming generations and their needs, how we respond has to be handled carefully while at the same time not neglecting the current people who appreciate what we are doing right now.
Fourth, how we respond to these challenges requires the alignment and stewardship of our resources, and that includes our pastoral staff. The 2018 church budget provides support to hire two part-time leaders (the Faith Community Nurse and the Women’s Ministry Director).
But for the long-term development of responding to both the current and next generations we see the critical need of hiring a pastor full-time who will have the skill, gifting and ministry experience, who will be adept in Biblical preaching and teaching, who will have a servant’s heart and strong leadership skills, and who can invest at least eight to ten years in helping us fulfill God’s vision. Since this position is not currently supported in our 2018 budget, we are proposing that after a search process, our hope is to present the new pastor to the congregation before the end of 2018, and by receiving our call, begin serving after January 1, 2019.
I wholeheartedly embrace this vision. This vision helps me understand the role I will have over the next twelve months at Palm West Community Church. I am committed, God willing, to assist the new pastor in getting acquainted with the church and his unique role so that he will be successful in God’s vision and also be embraced by each of you as your pastor.
God has shown me that it is time to help this vision become a reality and then retire. Therefore, it is my intention to retire as senior pastor of PWCC, to occur after a short time of helping the new Lead Pastor get settled. This means my retirement would be approximately one year from now. It is my desire to leave you in the best position to continue to fulfill God’s vision.
Having the church go through a long search process, then calling a pastor, and having the pastor get settled and then begin to serve before I retire avoids having the church go through all that process after I retire. This avoids an interim period which, in my experience, puts the church “on hold” and waiting till the next pastor arrives. And then waiting till that pastor gets settled. Completing this search process before I retire is a much smoother transition and has the least impact to a forward moving vision.
Congregational Affirmation of this Vision: Since any vision needs to be evident and affirmed by the congregation, we will follow these steps:
- This letter was read on Sunday, March 4, 2018 and then mailed to the membership and also posted on our church’s website.
- On Sunday, March 11, at 6:00 pm, this vision will be presented by various leaders with time for questions and prayer. It will be recorded for those who cannot attend.
- On Wednesday, March 21, 2018 Fellowship Dinner, the membership will be able to affirm (approve) this overall plan.
- Upon your affirmation, a search team would proceed in hiring a Faith Community Nurse. The Women’s Ministry Directorwill be considered as leadership decides.
- Over the summer and early fall we will begin the search for the Lead Pastor and, God willing, will present a candidate before the end of this year; after receiving a call of the congregation, the Lead Pastor will start no sooner than January 1, 2019.
Finally, on a personal note, upon retiring as your senior pastor, I will devote my time to Cristy, our children and grandchildren, assist in encouraging pastors and friends, and, if health permits, enjoy some hiking and travel. Cristy and I are remaining in our home and will continue to be active supporters of both Palm West Community Church and Inspire Church.
A Bible verse that resonates with me about God’s vision (for His glory and also our effectiveness in ministry) is Habakkuk 2:3. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. May we seek God in prayer and trust His leading.
In the love of Christ,
Bruce Schipul, senior pastor