Pastor Search Team
Pastor Search Team
First Baptist Church of San Antonio has voted to call Chris Johnson to be the new Co-Pastor in our church approved transition model. The vote was 737 for - 1 against. His first Sunday with us will be August 20.
We are excited for this new chapter in the life of FBCSA.
Welcome home Chris, Amy, Avery, and Ellie!
Pastor Search Team
Sunday, July 24, 2016 was a huge, happy step in our intentional and prayerful Pastoral Succession Plan for First Baptist Church, San Antonio.
These eleven friends were elected to lead our search. Great group! Great hope at FBCSA! Grateful to be a part of this church in the center of this city.
Top Row, Left to Right: Santiago Jaramillo, Staff Liason: Scott Lane, Personnel Committee Liaison: Charlie Cottle, Pastoral Committee Chairman: Byron Bexley, Ken Andrews, Matthew Benesh.
Bottom Row, Left to Right: Elizabeth Biedrzycki, Barbara Williams, Britain Nichols, Rachel Sandlin, Kevin Loudermilk.
Byron Bexley, CHAIR
Byron & Debbie have been married for 37 years and members of FBCSA for 27. All four of their children grew up at FBCSA and were baptized here. They now have 4 grandchildren.
One of the submissions recommending Byron said, “He is like a second father to me and with that comes fatherly attributes: steadiness, trustworthiness, dependability, strength, leadership, I could go on and on....”
Byron is a past deacon chair and deacon officer. He was ordained a deacon at 2nd Baptist in Houston in the late 80’s. He served as Chair for the Search Team that brought us Josh Vaughan and has served on Finance committee many years.
He and Debbie have impacted young marrieds in our church since 1993 serving as directors and teachers.
Byron is the Chairman and CEO of TexStar bank and has a degree from Baylor & just recently finished his MBA from Sam Houston State– Just in time to star this new project! He has served on many community boards including: McAllister Park Little League, Baylor Bear Foundation, and currently a local Advisory Group for the Federal Reserve Bank.
In his free time, Byron likes to spend time with his children and grandchildren, spend time with Young Marrieds at FBC, and every now and then Debbie lets him play golf.
Our Pastor says this of Byron, “Loyal. Strong. Prayerful. These are words that describe Byron and make him a great choice to chair this important committee at this important time in the life of FBCSA.”
Scott Lane, STAFF LIASON
Scott Lane (married to Kristie) is the Executive Pastor for Ministry at FBCSA. He came to our church in 1996 as Minister to Youth and served 19 years in that position. In the past year, Scott has taken on new responsibilities for leadership in our fellowship. He coordinates the staff team, all ministry efforts and is the direct supervisor for all NextGen Ministries. He is the father of two teenagers, Mary Beth and Marshall. He is a graduate of Howard Payne University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He serves as the staff liaison to Search Team.
Charlie Cottle, PERSONNEL COMMITTEE LIASON
Charlie Cottle (married to Patti) is the Personnel Committee Liaison to the search team. He joined FBCSA in 1980. Professionally, he is a private practice Physician specializing in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Charlie is a deacon, a past chair of the personnel team, a Sunday School teacher and served on the “Next 5 Pastoral Succession Planning Team”. He and Patti have three adult children and are solid fans of the Oklahoma Sooners.
Ken and Jean Andrews have been married for 45 years and have joined FBCSA 4 times since 1972 because of military moves. They have 2 daughters (both married) & 4 grandchildren.
One church member described Ken as having, “Spiritual depth. A continuity from the last senior pastor search. He has excellent institutional church memory.”
Ken is twice retired – first as a Lieutenant Colonel after 23 years in the U.S Army in healthcare management and a helicopter pilot, and second, after 23 years at UT Health Science Center in management. Ken got a Bachelors and Masters from Ouachita Baptist, a Masters from Baylor, and a Ph.D. from Texas.
He was ordained as a deacon in 1976 in Syracuse, NY. He has served our church as Chairman of the Deacons and was on Don’s search committee. He has chaired the Personnel Committee and served on Finance and Committee on Committees. He has been the President of the Sanctuary Choir and taught SS for several years. In the community he has served as Chairman for the Baptist Health Foundation.
In his free time, he likes to spend time with grandchildren, travel, play basketball, and read.
Don says this about Ken, “Ken Andrews has walked closely with me from the very beginning of my years at FBCSA. He is a wise and prayerful and steady friend to our church.”
Matthew and Emily Benesh have been married for 8 years and have been members of FBCSA for 2.5 years. They have Charlie – age 2 – and a baby to be named later due in October. Matthew grew up attending Columbus Avenue Baptist church in Waco and he and Emily were members of Eden Baptist Church, Cambridge UK.
Matthew was described by a fellow choir member this way, “He is a scholar, a very inquisitive and insightful person, and a person who has been confronted with perils to his faith and remained rock solid. He is very talented, very creative, and someone others seem to trust.”
Matthew earned a BS in Physics from Baylor, PhD in Physics from Cambridge University. He is an Engineer in the Tech Manufacturing industry with TowerJazz. At church, he serves on the Choir Council and Strategic Planning Committee.
In his free time, Matthew enjoys camping, traveling, board games, DIY home improvement.
Aaron Hufty describes Matthew, “He is sensitive to the needs of his young family, and how the next pastor will need to communicate effectively to his generation. Matthew is also exceptionally bright and thoughtful. His intelligent approach to church governance and scripture is balanced and good. He will listen, pray, and think.”
Elizabeth and Bobby Biedrzycki have been married for 5 years. Elizabeth first became a member here at FBCSA in 1990 when her parents, Blake & Kappie Coffee joined. She has been a member 17 years total with time away for school and work.
One of the parents in our church who watched her grow up here says this about Elizabeth, “She is bright, articulate, astute, and a good communicator. Her love for Jesus is evident in her natural evangelism style. Her work with the BGCT means she is knowledgeable about and well-connected with churches, clergy, and laypersons in our state.”
As newlyweds, Elizabeth and Bobby helped plant a church in Dallas called Christ City Church. While in the Dallas area, Bobby served as the interim pastor of Ferguson Road Baptist Church and also was the College Pastor at Lakeside Baptist Church. We like having the pastor’s wife experience that Elizabeth brings.
She is South Texas Regional Coordinator for the Baptist General Convention of Texas. As part of her daily work, she works with churches (pastors, ministers, lay leaders) as they seek to engage emerging generations in their communities. Elizabeth received her degree from Abilene Christian University. At church, she assists Holly Guthrie with events for the Women's Ministry and is on the Community Missions Vision Team.
In her free time, she enjoys writing, frequenting local coffee shops, reading a good novel, walks in the park and, quite honestly, Netflix.
Jimmy Gunn says this of Elizabeth, “Elizabeth loves the Lord with all that is in her and wants others to enjoy the same love she feels. She gives of herself sacrificially in all aspects of her life to share that love of God.”
Santiago Jaramillo has been attending FBCSA since the Fall of 2013 and has been a member for 2 years. He is engaged to Sarah Woods – whom he met in the singles group here at FBCSA - and is getting married this September. He is a member of the Single Ministry Team here.
He was described this way on our submission form, “has a kind and generous heart; a good leader to help people and meet needs; a servant's heart”
He is a local boy, having attended Holmes High School. His family worshipped at Alamo City Christian Fellowship and he was baptized there.
Santiago is an Aggie, Class of 2009 and was a member of the Corps of Cadets and Fighting Texas Aggie Band. He also earned an MS from Sam Houston State University. He was able do part of his undergraduate work at the Academy for International Education Bonn, Germany. His current position is a Strategic Planner for the VIA Metropolitan Transit Authority.
Santiago has a heart for service and has served on many different boards in our community, including serving as President of the Alamo Area GIS (geographic information systems). He was awarded the Big Brother of the Year for San Antonio & State of Texas and was a Student in the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Alex Briseno Leadership Development Program (ALBDP). He has also been nominated as Volunteer of the Year for United Way of Bexar County.
In his free time, Santiago likes the outdoors (camping, canoeing/kayaking, boating), traveling to special places in our community & abroad, and mechanical work (vehicle maintenance, home repair, woodworking, etc.).
Bryan Richardson says this about Santiago “The church can't function without the kind of devotion to servanthood you find in Santiago Jaramillo. Assessing logistics, rearranging rooms, preparing meals, transporting people--whatever needs doing, Santiago loves the church enough to roll up his sleeves and go to work.”
Kevin & Niki have been married 11 years after meeting in the Singles department here at church. He has been a member of FBCSA for 18 years. They have 2 children- Lauren (10) and Matthew (8).
One church member described Kevin this way, “There are not many at FBCSA who are as deeply intellectual and as significantly human as Kevin is. A "preacher's kid", Kevin has moved in his own strengths to other career choices, to solid faith and heart for the Lord, to rebuilt marriage and joyous parenthood, and to profound love for their current affiliation with FBCSA.”
Kevin grew up with a dad who pastored for 24 years, serving in 4 different churches, and then served as the Executive Director of the Denton Baptist Association for 20 years. After retiring, his dad has served as interim pastor in 6 churches. We like having the experience of a PK on the Search team.
Kevin holds a B.S. Math and M.S. Math & Statistics from Baylor. He is a Manager in the P&C Information, Reporting, and Analytics group at USAA.
At church, he is an ordained deacon. Kevin has taught in the Singles and Young Married Departments and also facilitated the DivorceCare group through Heart 2 Heart. Kevin has search team experience – with teams that brought us Bryan Richardson and Aaron Hufty.
In the community, Kevin is on the board of CrossPoint, Inc., a non-profit focused on reintegrating homeless Veterans, state hospital patients, and formerly incarcerated men and women into our community. He is also on the board for the Greater Helotes Little League.
In his free time, Kevin is a softball / baseball dad, loves sci fi movies and all types of music, but “at my heart, I'm a Star Wars and comic book nerd.”
Aaron Hufty says, “Kevin is the perfect choice for this search team. Every aspect of his life has equipped him for this task. He is the son of a pastor. He is a husband, father, deacon, and Bible Study teacher. His commitment to Christ and to the leadership of this church will serve this fellowship well.”
Britain & William Nichols have been married 26 years and members of FBCSA for 8.5 years – spread out over 3 Air Force tours. They have been members of Baptist churches in Columbus & Biloxi, MS - Springfield & Yorktown, VA – and we part of a church plant with the Catalyst Church Launch Team in Newport News, VA. William’s military assignments have also led them to Spain & Germany. The Nichols have 3 sons and one daughter-in-law. Their two youngest are students at Mississippi State.
One nominator described Britain as, “a hard worker who loves to serve the Lord.”
Britain holds a BA in Elementary Education from the Mississippi University for Women. Currently she works part-time as a receptionist at Bible Study Fellowship headquarters. For many years she was a stay at home mom and prior to that, an elementary school teacher.
She and William teach in the college department and she has also taught in the Married 20’s. She has also served on the Missions Committee and Committee on Committees. With Bible Study Fellowship, Britain has been the Children's Leader, Group Leader, Substitute Teaching Leader, and Class Administrator.
In her free time, Britain loves to travel with William, go on adventures with our friends, drink coffee with my college girls, cheer for the Spurs, and gather all our family under one roof.
Bryan Richardson says of Britain, “College students and military recruits matter to Britain Nichols. That's why she helps the local church establish a family of faith and friendship. Britain knows that when love for Christ and for one another takes root in young people, the whole world finds more hope.”
Rachel & Matt Sandlin have been members of FBCSA for 1 year and have been married for 9 years. They have 3 children: Chip (5), Alice (3) and John Fredrick (22 months). Rachel & Matt are originally from Columbus, Indiana and they met in high school. Since they've been married, the Navy has taken them to Portsmouth, VA; Twentynine Palms, CA; and Naples, Italy. They have been previous members of Westside Community Church Columbus, Indiana and a sister church in our city.
Rachel was described by one in her peer group as, “disciplined in her walk with Christ. She wants for God to be glorified. She is wise, thoughtful and prayerful in her decision process.”
Rachel is now both a homemaker and Marketing Manager for a dental office. Previously, she worked in event planning, logistics, community resource and referral for the US Marine Corps as a Family Readiness Officer. She has a BA from Kenyon College where she majored in English and creative writing. She also holds an MBA from Liberty University.
Rachel was a MOPS Discussion Group Leader last year and is in the succession plan to lead MOPS in the near future. She has also led several women's Bible study classes with Protestant Women of the Chapel (PWOC) and was involved with VBS when stationed overseas. She and Matt currently co-lead the Tenth graders in the youth group.
In her free time, she enjoys exploring San Antonio with Matt and the kids. Reading books (Dr. Seuss and C.S. Lewis and Timothy Keller are all on my nightstand). Fitness in general, CrossFit in specific, and being able to outrun my kids. ☺
Jimmy Gunn describes Rachel this way, “Rachel has a true servant heart that seeks to equip and help young moms through fellowship, accountability, and love through all of her interactions.”
Barbara & George Williams have been married 51 years and have been members of FBCSA for 12 years. They came to us from Trinity Baptist. She is a native San Antonian and has lived in San Antonio most of her life with brief stints in San Francisco and Austin. She and George have 2 children & 4 grandchildren.
She was described by her church family as, “Strong commitment to Scripture; faithful in service; wise, compassionate leader”
Barbara is a retired educator. She was both a teacher and administrator for the Alamo Heights I.S.D.; San Antonio Academy and Buckner Fanning Christian School. She earned her degree from St. Mary's University and did graduate work at Trinity University and the University of the Incarnate Word.
Barbara invested in this Church quickly after becoming a member and got right to work with Yes, Lord! Community Ministries. She has chaired the At Risk Children's Ministry, Mentoring Program and Backpack Ministry. She has also served on the Personnel Committee and as an Area Fellowship Group Leader. She was also a member of the Search Committee that brought us Jimmy Gunn.
Barbara is also active ministering to the community on a number of outreach and museum boards.
She considers volunteer "work" as her favorite hobby! She loves to play bridge, read, cook and entertain, and enjoy good times with friends and family members.
Larry Soape says this about Barbara, “Barbara Williams is well respected and loved by all who know her. Her ‘can do spirit’ is an inspiration to all.”
On Sunday, June 25, our committee made an exciting presentation and recommendation to First Baptist Church San Antonio. After 11 months of meetings (36 important gatherings in total) and 305 resumes, the Lord faithfully led us to recommend Pastor Chris Johnson from Chalk Bluff Baptist Church in Waco, Texas to come in view of a call to be the co-Pastor at FBCSA.
God has been so faithful throughout this process. The Spirit has been steadfast and certain. We pray Christ alone has been honored in our work and in our selection.
Pastor Chris is a husband to Amy and father to Avery and Ellie. He is originally from Corrizo Springs, earned his masters and doctorate from Truett Seminary, and loves the Spurs. He has a heart for the least-of-these and leads with a contagious enthusiasm we look forward to witnessing. He has been a good and kind shepherd to his flock at Chalk Bluff Baptist Church.
We are excited about the prospect of Pastor Chris joining Pastor Don as co-pastor at FBCSA. The committee has been blessed by a spirit of unity and certainty in this recommendation.
It is a joy to make this recommendation to our church family.
Thank you for your commitment to pray for our Search Committee, the new Pastor and his family, the Transition Team, and Pastor Don and Holly. As we continue to meet, we find ourselves regularly amazed by the great blessings of your prayers. Our committee remains unified and energized to this task. We are grateful for the encouragement.
As you have heard us say from our Prayer Prompts on Sundays, we are currently conducting on-site visits. This means many things, but perhaps most importantly- we are one step closer to finding God's man for FBCSA. On-site visits consist of traveling to the candidate's church and observing their worship service. We do our best to do this anonymously. It is our prayer each time we arrive that we would not disrupt the worship of anyone there. As anonymous "visitors" we are often asked who we are and where we are from. We answer honestly, though vaguely, and try to instead focus on them. We have visited many wonderful churches and have been loved on well by their members.
We have more site visits to conduct over the coming month. Once we have completed those visits, we will determine whom we will ask to come to San Antonio for an interview.
When our committee meets we pray around the Re:Verse scripture. We study God's word and consider how it applies to our process. We also spend a good deal of time in corporate prayer and reflection. This week we prayed that God's will would be accomplished and He alone would receive all the glory. May our efforts be in God's name, not our own. Thank you for praying with us.
When we began this search process in August 2016, our task loomed large. Our objective, to identify the next Senior Pastor of FBCSA, seemed a distant goal. And our undetermined and unknown timeline seemed daunting. Our one sure thing was our commitment: to the Lord, to FBCSA, and to one another. Along the way things have shored up. Our goal seems attainable, our progress is timely, and our commitment is unwavering.
At different intervals throughout this process we have achieved small milestones. Completing the position description was a milestone. Posting the job was a milestone. Receiving resumes (over 300!) and removing the job posting were two more milestones. Culling our “yes” pile from about 40 to 15 to single digits… still more milestones. And along with these identifiable progressions in our process have been significant prayer milestones within our dear church.
You prayed for our unity, our endurance, and our relationships. You beseeched the Lord on our behalf for wisdom, clarity, discernment, and tenderness. You prayed for our protection from the enemy. Together we prayed for Pastor Don and Holly. We prayed for our church, our staff, and our community. We prayed for our next Senior Pastor, his wife and family, his church, and his ministry. We prayed for the hundreds of applicants and for their continued ministries.
Together we have moved forward in intentional prayer. As a committee we see first hand the benefit of this practice. We find unity in difficult decisions, unity in next steps, and unity in timing. We are blessed to see the fruit of your prayers in this process. We are so thankful for your encouragement and your prayers. Please continue to walk with us in prayer utilizing the weekly Prayer Prompts and Prayer Posts.
Our next step is to complete phone interviews and reference checks on our remaining candidates. We will then move forward with site visits to their respective churches. We foresee these events carrying us through May.
Thank you for coming alongside us in prayer. We are truly blessed to serve you, our church family.
As reported at the Church Conference on March 26, 2017 by committee member Matthew Benesh.
We have completed a review of all resumes received, and are no longer accepting additional resumes.
- For a small number of candidates, we gathered additional background information, including sermon videos, article/newsletter writing samples, and assessing their social media presence.
- Based on that review and the strength of resume, we have generated a short-list of candidates that we are pursuing in greater detail. This includes phone interviews and reference checks.
- We expect to begin traveling to visit these candidates' respective church in late April through May.
- Separately, we have received continual encouragement from the church body, particularly in response to the 'Pray First' prayer campaign. We are hopeful to continue this weekly prayer focus through the rest of the search process and beyond.
At the time of our most recent meeting, 305 candidates have submitted resumes for consideration to be the next Senior Pastor of FBCSA. Please join us in thanking God for such a response.
Our recent meeting marks a shift in assessing resumes to beginning initial phone conversations. Over the past several months we have been working diligently to narrow down a very qualified pool of candidates. Each time we meet, we spend significant time in prayer. We consistently ask that we move with the Spirit and remain sensitive to God’s pace for this process, not our own. As we begin these initial conversations with candidates, it is very important to keep in mind that we are several months from the next step of site visits. There is much work to be done, but we are joyful and remain faithful to the task.
We hope you’ve heard it said by members of this committee, we count it a tremendous blessing to be exposed to the “next generation” of pastors around the country. Our time spent listening to them preach the Gospel is time very well spent. It has given each of us great hope in the kingdom work being done. Church family, we have much to be excited about and much to pray about. Please join through the Prayer Posts on the website and the weekly Prayer Prompts announced at worship on Sunday. It is a privilege to pray to a God so big and so near and it is a blessing to be encouraged by a prayerful church family. God is so gracious.
Can you believe that over 300 pastors from around the world have applied for the position of the next Senior Pastor of FBCSA? It is a big number and should encourage you. The number speaks of the high esteem of our church; the high regard for our current pastor, Don Guthrie; and, moreover, the good work that the Lord is doing in the hearts of His people. Glory to God! We have briefly been introduced to a wave of people committed to pursuing kingdom building. It has been refreshing and invigorating. Praise the Lord for His tender love in this way.
We have removed the public posting of the Senior Pastor position. We will continue to accept resumes by personal recommendation.
Our work now is to continue to cull down our candidate pool. We are continuing to research as technology enables: social media, church websites, blogs and other writing, and sermons. We are already being impacted by these pastors and their teachings. It is edifying and a rich reward that our "work" at this point consists of spending even more time centered on the Word of God with these potential pastors.
Our meeting this week included discussions about phone interviews and site visits. These next steps are coming soon, but there is much work yet to be done before such events. We are mindful to be forward looking, but prayerful and sensitive of the Spirit's tempo.
Please join us in prayer as we continue to discern the Lord's will for FBCSA. We also encourage you to join us in the weekly prayer prompts. May we be about the work of preparing our hearts for this transition and may our church be one of joy-filled, Christ-like love and unity!
The Pastor Search Committee gathered this week and we continue with the objective of narrowing down the field of qualified applicants. We are now taking a closer look at each applicant and getting to know them by the means of technology. We are listening to sermons, reading scholarly and general writings, observing social media, and considering their current church. We are encouraged by their messages and their respective missions in their current vocations.
As we continue to cull down our candidate pool, we pray for those pastors we decline and for their continued kingdom work. May the Lord continue to lead them.
We still have a fair way to go in our process, but we pray that as we begin this next step the Lord would be lavish in his blessing of wisdom. During our meeting we prayed for wisdom with the confidence of James, the expectation of Solomon, and the vision of Samuel. Please join us in praying for such spiritual eyes that see clearly whom the Lord has chosen.
Please join us in praying for wisdom as we continue to move forward.
The Pastor Search Committee resumes its regular meeting schedule this week. Though thankful for the holiday break, we are eager to continue on in the process of identifying the next Senior Pastor for FBCSA.
Have you picked up a “Pray First” wristband yet? These red bands are a reminder and a call for our church to be a praying church. As we enter into a time of discernment and strategic planning for the entire church, it is our hope that prayer for the Search Committee and FBCSA would be a regular rhythm of your day. To aid in this, the church has started printing a weekly “Pray First: Prayer Prompt” in the Highlights. These few sentences are to give you an insight as to what the Search Committee is working on and give you a specific area to prayer over. Thank you for your continued prayers.
We are happy to report that we have completed our first pass through all received resumes! As we begin to narrow the candidates, we will take a closer look at each person: listening to sermons, reading publications, and researching their church and education background. Please join us in praying for discernment. We pray to look at each applicant through God’s eyes and that He would help us see. It is our prayer that the person God has raised up would become abundantly clear as we move forward.
In the coming days all applicants will receive communication from the Search Committee. It is our goal to communicate frequently and transparently with them. We pray for those to whom we will say “no”. May their kingdom work continue and may their interaction with FBCSA have been one of mutual blessing. For those candidates who remain, we pray for their continued faith and patience in our process. And finally, for the person whom God has chosen, we pray for the Spirit’s stirring. May they feel increasingly called to FBCSA and the city of San Antonio; and may their spouse and family feel equally drawn.
We continue to remain joyful stewards of this task. As the search continues there is much work to be done for all of us. We all have a spiritual responsibility to pray. The spiritual work must be done with surrendered hearts that are near to the Lord, and set on the things of God. What a privilege it is to pray! How easily we are granted access! Yet, how unbuckling our knees. Join us in prayer and walk alongside us. Together we will discern the Lord’s will and be prepared for the next chapter of FBCSA.
Thank you for your commitment to pray alongside us.
The Pastor Search Committee has been meeting regularly since Thanksgiving, with the main objective of reviewing resumes. We are eager to report that we have completed our initial read-through of all resumes submitted to date! We have been working diligently to comb through nearly 285 resumes. We will continue accepting resumes throughout the process.
Please join us as our hearts are filled with humble appreciation for the Lord’s work in this process. We are thankful to reach another landmark in the search; and we have done so with unity and consensus in each step. It is certain that the Lord’s hand is upon the process. As we join together in prayer each week, we come to the throne with humility: beseeching the Spirit’s presence in our meeting room, the Savior’s leading in our hearts, and God’s glory to be honored. His faithfulness is cause for great joy.
As we approach the Christmas holiday, our blessed appointment continues. Individually we will revaluate the candidates who remain. When we reconvene in the New Year, it is to be with an even smaller candidate pool remaining.
Please join us as we praise the Lord for his faithfulness. We are grateful for his guiding hand in this preliminary read-through. Please pray for our time spent in revaluation during the holidays. Please pray for peace and patience for the remaining candidates and their families as they await our response. And finally, please pray for those whom we ultimately dismiss, that they would not be discouraged and continue their pursuit for the Lord in life and vocation.
We will gather together one final time before Christmas in celebration and fellowship. No business will be formally conducted. We will pray, we will fellowship, and we will joyfully give praise for the Lord’s work in the search for our next Senior Pastor.
We pray your Christmas holiday is filled with wonder and love for a good, good Savior and a worthy God.
The Pastor Search Committee is beginning the exciting process of reviewing resumes. We are elated by the response the church has received. It is quite clear that FBCSA is a well-respected and well-reputed church. At the time of this posting, we have received well over 250 applications, and we will continue to accept resumes for the foreseeable future.
We would like you to join us in rejoicing over the Pastor Profile we have composed. This document will be the rubric by which we evaluate our candidates. We have come by it through much prayer and with due consideration of both the congregational survey and the staff interviews. Our unanimous approval of this document encourages us and causes us to praise the Lord. He is so kind to reveal His hand on this process in these meaningful ways. We are truly thankful.
Your Pastor Search Committee will rest from meeting during the Thanksgiving week. Despite the reprieve, we will continue to review resumes in preparation for our next meeting in December. We are boldly thankful for the Lord’s work in this process.
On your long list of blessings that you are counting this season, we pray that you would join us in praising the Lord for his plan and his work in the pastoral succession at FBCSA.
The Pastor Search Committee has been meeting for three months. We are very thankful for the progress we have made. Evidence of the Lord’s hand in the process is constantly on display as we gather. From the members of the committee and the gifts they offer, to the applicable study of Revelation Pastor Don is leading us through, it is evident that the Lord is at work in the leading and guiding of this committee and this process. We are thankful.
We are continuing to receive resumes and are excited as the number grows. As they continue to be submitted, we commit to respectfully communicating with each applicant. We feel this is extremely important as we represent FBCSA to each applicant that applies. As the number of candidates grows, we pray expectantly that God’s man is among them!
The Pastor Profile is nearing completion. This is being carefully crafted through prayer, the results of the church survey, and interviews with church staff. The Lord has led us to create a document that we believe rightly reflects the man He has in mind for FBCSA. The unanimity of the committee surrounding the development of this document encourages and confirms the Spirit’s work among us.
It is greatly evident that the prayers of the saints, you all, have been lifting us up. For this we are thankful and we covet your continued prayers. We would also like to extend an invitation to begin praying in what is, perhaps, a new direction. Will you pray for your own heart to be softened to the Lord’s plan and the Lord’s man? We don’t know who he is yet, but our weekly submersion into this process has made us keenly aware of the breadth of possibilities. Please join us as we pray for our church: a gentle leading of the Spirit; a softening of hearts; and an awareness of God’s great work in this process.
We march steadily on in faith, led by the Spirit, and in fevered pursuit of the Lord’s will. Join us, won’t you?
This week your Pastor Search Committee began reviewing the church survey results. We had a tremendous response from the church. Thank you for your participation!
Before looking at the survey results, we prayed earnestly for the Spirit to strongly guide us. Our next step is to read and re-read your input, and that of the ministerial staff, and cull it down to create a profile for our search. Our prayer is for the Spirit’s presence to be tangibly felt as we read your feedback in the coming weeks, and that he would guide us to the most vital identifiers of our next Senior Pastor. It is anticipated that this portion of our process may take several weeks. It is absolutely imperative that we develop a sound Pastor Profile to help us evaluate resumes in the coming weeks.
Applications and resumes continue to be submitted. There have been nearly 100 received already! We are excited by the numbers, but remain focused that we are really only looking for one man. Please join us in praying that we will not get caught up in the details, but remain intently focused on seeking the Lord’s will first and foremost.
In recent weeks, our committee has been blessed with celebration. We rejoice in the marriage of committee member Santiago Jaramillo to his bride, Sarah. We also rejoice in the birth of Philip Benesh to committee member Matthew Benesh and his wife, Emily. Specifically this week we ask you to pray for continued blessings and protection in the lives of these dear families.
It is an honor to serve you, church family.
The Pastor Search Committee met this week. We continue to interview FBCSA’s ministerial staff during our meetings. These glimpses into the rich and collaborative relationships Pastor Don has cultivated with each staff member are invaluable in helping us mentally shape the man God has designed for this role. Like a puzzle with one missing piece, we have confidence that the better we know the rest of the picture, the more obvious this man will be. Thank you, church staff, for your willingness to speak candidly with us.
Thank you, again, to each of you who completed a Pastor Search survey. We received a wonderful response and are eager to digest all of your feedback. Each comment will be read and considered before we move forward.
The Senior Pastor job opening is posted and resumes are flowing in. We anticipate the next step of reading resumes, but remain committed to first understanding the church survey results.
Our prayer time focused on leadership. We considered the great leadership model of Jesus’ life and ministry. With this in mind, we were prompted to pray for the current and future leadership of our church, leadership within our homes and occupations, and the leadership we exhibit in our daily lives. As always, it was a rich and worship-filled time of prayer.
In our meeting this week we talked for the first time about our next Senior Pastor as a man, rather than just as a list of qualifications and traits. We allowed ourselves to wonder, dream, and anticipate. I dare say we got a bit excited. Not about Pastor Don leaving and not necessarily about the challenge of the change. But, yes, about the Lord’s next Pastor and, if we all do this right, about the refined church that he will inherit.
And so, we ask you: Have you allowed yourself to dream about it yet? Have you let your mind wonder about the man the Lord will bring to shepherd His flock at FBCSA? Have you allowed yourself to anticipate the possibility that the pastor you have in mind may not be who the Lord calls next?
Join us as we pray for surrendered and malleable hearts. We ask you to dream, wonder, and anticipate with us. We pray fervently that there is evidence of unity within our church as we walk through the Next 5 transition plan.
Your Pastor Search Committee met this week. We are so thankful for a prayer-full congregation. Thank you for lifting us up as a committee and as individuals. Thank you for praying for this process. Thank you for praying for our church and our staff. Thank you for praying for our current Pastor and our future Pastor.
During our most recent meeting we finalized a process for how we will conduct resume evaluation and eventually interviews. The job profile has been posted on our website, as well as numerous other websites. The resumes are rolling in and we are excited.
Before we look at any resumes, we will complete our church survey and profile. Have you taken the Pastor Search Survey yet? Please do so. The survey will close on Friday, September 30th.
As is our custom, we spent a good deal of time in prayer during our meeting. It has become a highly anticipated practice. There is something so rich about hearing one another petition and praise the Lord. Together we walked through the letters to the churches in Revelation. In light of their admonitions, we were prompted to pray. What grace that the Lord has us walking through a study on the book of Revelation during this time of pastor-transition, church family!
We will have a representative present at the Church Conference on Sunday. We hope to see you there.
The Pastor Search Committee met this week. We continue to be amazed by the way the Lord has designed our committee. We are humbled by His provision. Thank you for your prayers, encouraging words, letters, phone calls, and emails. Your trust in us and in this process make it a joy to serve.
Thank you, to all of you who have taken the time to complete the Pastor Search survey. The survey is still available online and we will accept responses through the end of September. As Byron mentioned on Sunday, your responses are imperative to helping us create a profile by which to evaluate our candidates. Please take the time to participate in this important part of the search process.
Over the past several meetings, we have heard from members of the ministerial staff of FBCSA. We have asked them about the character traits they believe are vital for our next Senior Pastor. (First of all, the lineup God has assembled at FBCSA astounds us. He has clearly been at work in developing this team. Thank you, Father, for your provision.) Through these interviews, we are given more information about the person whom God is directing toward us.
The Search Committee is putting the final touches on the Job Posting. Within the next few weeks it will be posted on our website and on multiple, reputable Ministry Job Posting websites. Once the job is posted, we will begin accepting resumes for a number of weeks. Before we look at a single resume, however, we will compile the data from the church survey and analyze the congregation’s response. This information will be the lens through which we evaluate the candidates.
Only after the profile is written and the job posting has closed, will we begin to read resumes. By next week you should be able to check the Next 5 webpage to view the job posting and information on how to submit a resume.
Please continue to pray with us. Imagine the church our next Senior Pastor will inherit if we are a people in passionate pursuit of Christ. Let’s be a people who pray. Be assured that your Pastor Search Committee is praying. We want God’s man for this job. Don’t you? Pray with us.
The Pastor Search Committee met this week and continues to move forward in the process of selecting the next Senior Pastor. Our primary focus remains in prayer and seeking the Lord’s will for this committee and the future of FBC. As Byron stated at the Church Conference on Sunday, we have delineated this awesome task into four areas: Prayer, Presence, Process and Profile.
PRAYER: Once again, we beseech you to pray with us over the search. Join us in praying over the search committee, the church and staff, Pastor Don and Holly, and the incoming Pastor and his family and church. Specifically, please pray for the Lord to speak to your heart and inform you as you participate in the Pastor Search survey.
PRESENCE: A significant portion of our meeting was spent finalizing a Church Profile to present with the job posting. We are excited by what was developed. FBC has so many tremendous ministries and our congregation is so blessedly diverse! We pray we have honored the Lord and you all with our words. This profile will accompany the job posting and will also be found on the Next 5 page.
PROCESS: We are still in the very early stages of our process. Within the next few weeks we will finalize the Job Posting, post the position, and begin accepting resumes. Perhaps, like many of you, we are eager to begin looking at candidates and their resumes, however we feel fully convicted that we must first understand whom the Lord is calling. We spend much of our time in communication with the Lord through prayer, but we also believe that the Lord speaks through his people-the church. And this brings us to the Pastor Search survey.
PROFILE: We are very excited to present the congregation with an opportunity to tell us what you believe the needs are of our next Senior Pastor. On Sunday you will hear from the pulpit about an all-church Pastor Search survey. This survey will be available through the entire month of September. Your responses will help us as we begin to craft a Profile depicting the next Senior Pastor of FBC. Though we are many weeks away from reading resumes, this profile will be the lens through which we evaluate candidates.
As you can see, we are at work. We are fervently seeking the Lord and are committed to accurately representing the composition and needs of FBC. We serve a majestic and creative God. And we stand before a unique and diverse people. We truly believe that as we continue to move forward in faith and obedience, we will find your next Senior Pastor doing the same: moving forward in faith and obedience.
We ask you to continue to walk with us by being mindful to pray. Pray expectantly and often for the dear man the Lord has chosen. We are. May this season at FBC draw us ever closer to the Lord. It is our prayer that when we look back on this time and the transition to come, we can know with assurance that God was radically honored and radically pursued in this process.
The Pastor Search Committee met this week. Our business was about understanding the position description of our next Senior Pastor, the leadership structure of FBC, and the transition that will take place in the future. While that was the business of the meeting, the heart of the meeting was in prayer, testimony and drawing near to the Lord as a committee.
In the coming weeks you will be given the opportunity to complete a Pastor Search survey. This will be available online and in print throughout the month of September. We ask that you take the time to pray through the questions and thoroughly consider your responses. We ask you to pray that your brothers and sisters at FBC will do the same. The information we gather will help illuminate the heart of FBC and enable us to better represent you.
Your Pastor Search Committee continues to fervently pray and seek the Lord. As we walk forward together as a committee, it is our goal that the entire congregation is moving alongside us. We ask you to continue praying for the committee, for Pastor Don and Holly, for our new Senior Pastor and his family, and for the entirety of First Baptist Church.
The FBCSA Pastor Search Committee met for the first time this week. We spent significant time in prayer and plan to make that the foremost thing we do each time we gather. The Spirit was invited and present as we discussed our first formal action: a Pastor Search Survey. We are eager to hear from our church about how the Lord is inclining your heart as you consider your next Senior Pastor. The survey will be finalized and available to all church members in the coming weeks. The survey will be available online, in the church bulletin, and in Unity Hall. We humbly ask you to begin praying now and ask the Lord to guide you as you answer each question.
Finally, we beseech you to be in continued prayer over our search committee, our church, Pastor Don, and our God-appointed next Pastor and his family. Our prayer is that individually and as a committee we pursue the Lord; and that our next Pastor would do the same. As this process continues we pray to find our next Pastor kneeling, next Pastor Don and each of us, at the foot of the cross. Won't you join us?
It is our pleasure and our joy to serve this mighty church family.
- For a small number of candidates, we gathered additional background information, including sermon videos, article/newsletter writing samples, and assessing their social media presence.
A Prayer for Leadership
"Lord, you have been so gracious and good to First Baptist Church by leading us through the decision to utilize the Transition Model, leading us through the search process and leading the Pastor Search Committee to Chris Johnson. We give you thanks and all of the glory for the great things you have done and will do."
A Prayer for Blessings
“Lord, we thank you for your great faithfulness in this time of change. We pray for your blessing over the week ahead, as our congregation has the opportunity to meet with and welcome Chris Johnson and his family. Bless this time with a spirit of fellowship and hopeful expectation for the path you have laid out for FBCSA.”
A Prayer of Thanks
"Heavenly Father, we praise your name for you are good. You have answered our prayers for wisdom and guidance. We thank you for your presence during this search process and the leadership of the Holy Spirit in bringing us to Pastor Chris. We give you all of the glory and take none for ourselves. We love you, Lord."
A Prayer for the Prospective Co-Pastor
"Father, we now have the names of the prospective co-pastor and his family for whom we have been praying. We lift Chris, Amy, Avery, and Ellie Johnson before you as they join us in praying for discernment. Their current church, Chalk Bluff Baptist Church in Waco, also joins us in this prayer process. Show us your will. Make your desire clear for us as we all explore the exciting possibilities of a new chapter ahead."
A Prayer of Thanks & Faithfulness
"Lord, we thank you for your faithfulness and clarity of direction throughout our search process. As we prepare to learn about and welcome the new pastor you have called to us, we pray for his current church as they must now begin their own transition. We ask for the Holy Spirit to fill them and guide them as they seek your will for their church."
A Prayer for Gratitude
"Dear God, our creator and loving Heavenly Father, we thank you for our earthly fathers who have a divine responsiblity given by you to love and care for their children, Give them the strength and courage to alway seek your will in fulfilling the role. But utmost in our hearts is gratitude and praise for you and your incomparable love. We pray that as we soon begin our new leadership structure at First Baptist, our co-pastors will reflect many of your most beautiful attributes as they minister not only to our church family, but to the lonely and lost who are searching for meaning in their lives. May they be conduits of your unconditional love, grace, mercy, trustworthiness, humility, faithfulness, joy and peace, all attributes loving fathers seek to be blessed with by you. Every day is a celebration of gratitude for you, our precious Heavenly Father. Amen."
A Prayer for Servant Leadership
"Lord, we pray that You prepare our church for a new period of servant leadership. As You stir the heart of our next pastor, we ask that You bless him and Pastor Don as they both transition to the new role of CoPastor. Help them to be humble servants to each other, to support and shepherd each other during the transition period. Bless our congregation to follow the example they set of love and humility"
A Prayer from the Transition Team
"Father, as we look toward a transition to a prospective new senior pastor, help him establish and grow cooperative and courageous relationships with our city's leaders. Thank You for the opportunity to participate in Your work in San Antonio through this downtown church. We pray for the Holy Spirit's leadership as our Pastor Search Team continues its work and may we glorify and serve You well in this city."
A Prayer for our Military
As we pause this weekend to remember those who died in the service of our country's armed forces, may this prompt our prayer for our Pastor search as well.
"Father, may our church continue to be one who honors and supports the armed forces. May we see our location, in 'Military City USA', as an opportunity to reach out and embrace the military and their families. May our new pastor's heart be sensitive to their needs and may we, as a church, continue to be on mission in this important community."
A Prayer for our perspective Pastor
"Lord, we thank you for our new pastor. You have known him, called him, led him, and loved him long before any of us ever met him. We pray that you fill us with your love for him and lead us to welcome him into our fellowship with open arms and hearts."
A Mother's Day Prayer for Family
The Search Committee felt it fitting that on Mother’s Day and throughout the week we would pray for our prospective pastor’s family. So let’s. Please join us in praying for this family who will be joining our church and finding a new home in San Antonio.
"Father, we want our new pastor's family to flourish in this, their new home. We commit to lovingly enfold them into this church family with kindness and care. Help us recognize practical ways to ease this season of transition. Bless their family with stability, peace, and joy in the midst of change and use us as agents of your grace toward them."
A Prayer for Our Sister Church
As you know from our prayer prompt last week, the Search Team has begun the process of visiting candidates’ churches. It is a poignant moment when you’re shaking hands with and looking into the eyes of friendly people who you know might be greatly impacted by what transpires in this process. So, it is fitting to follow up our prayer for travel with a prayer for the people of the church whom we will be affecting. Please pray the following with us this week:
“Lord, we lift up the current church of our future pastor. Prepare their hearts and relationships with each other for the change that will come. May unity abound among them and may they feel the assurance of your peace and provision. Give them grace moving forward and allow them to walk into their new chapter with a renewing faith.”
We have moved into a new phase of this process. We will now be traveling to visit the churches of the remaining candidates. It’s an exciting time, but we need your prayers. With every step forward there is healthy amount of emotion, mental energy and spiritual endurance called for. So please pray through the prompt below this week.
“Father, we pray for Your protection over our Pastor Search Team as they travel to observe prospective pastors. We also earnestly beseech You for wisdom. Grant them discernment, and may their experiences be blessed by clarity and the nearness of the Spirit.”
Break Our Hearts
The prayer this week focuses on the lost. Following Easter Sunday, our hope is that our hearts break for the lost and that our future pastor’s does too. Our city desperately needs the hope of the Gospel. May we be a beacon in the middle of San Antonio where truth is proclaimed and love overflows. Please pray the following with your Search Team this week:
“Lord, you have called Your body to join together as one to share Your good news with those who are lost. We pray for Your divine wisdom to guide the Pastor Search Committee as they seek to find a shepherd whose heart is to bring Your light, Your truth, and Your love to all Your children both in our San Antonio community and abroad.”
A Love for our City
“But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you…and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” Jeremiah 29:7
Join your Search Team with the following prayer prompt for this week:
"Lord, we pray that you will instill in our new pastor a love for this community and city at large as he seeks to become acquainted with its rich history, its customs, its multi-ethnic cultures, and its vast needs. With the large growth in the number of downtown residents moving into our church neighborhood, we pray you will equip him, in concert with Pastor Don, to lead our church family in sharing the Gospel and welcoming our new neighbors to worship with us, particularly those who do not know the Lord as their personal Savior. We ask that he be filled with passion and commitment to continue to help us share the love of Christ through our community missions outreach."
As the Search Team moves forward with steps towards our next pastor, we ask the church to intercede on our behalf for abundant clarity and discernment. We are asking God to remove anything that might hinder our understanding of His will. Please join our prayer below:
“Lord, grant the Pastor Search Team clarity and discernment as they meet with candidates and visit churches, so that the purpose and heart of each potential pastor would be clearly known. Bless us all with hope and expectation as you guide us into the next stage of life for First Baptist Church.”
The Enemy Has no Place Here
As we are reading in Reverse this week, the Enemy delights in coming between God and His people. And throughout history, has found crafty ways of planting seeds of selfishness and doubt within hearts and minds. Frankly, it would be like the Enemy to target a church and its people in a time of delicate transition. As we read Genesis 3, I hope we are led to declare the same thing: the Enemy has no place here. Please pray the following with your Search Team this week:
"Lord, guard our church against the work of the enemy. May he have no foothold on our lives, our families or the effort of this church. Give us Your righteous discernment as to not be deceived. And may the Holy Spirit transform our moments of uncertainty and define our forward movement."
A Prayer for the Spouses
What a joyful week to be praying for Holly Guthrie and the spouse of our next pastor. While the Pastor comes in with a specific task, title and responsibility in the church body, the spouse must seek theirs out. The role of a spouse to pastor or minister can be heavy. May our church make this role a complete joy to hold! And may we love Holly well throughout this transition! Let’s pray this way:
"Father, thank you for the precious gift of Holly Guthrie, and for the spouse of our new co-pastor whom we look forward to welcoming and embracing as a church family. May this transition season be a blessing to these women and may it be marked by their steadfast trust in You, joyful life in their homes, and sweet friendship with one another."
The Joy of Praying for our Pastor
Doesn’t it give you joy to intercede in prayer on behalf of our pastor?! He faithfully pours his heart, energy, and love into our church each day. So in gratitude, respect, and deep care, let’s faithfully pray for him as he makes this transition. The prayer prompt for this week is:
“Please pray that Pastor Don will have peace and joy as he senses God’s presence, His power and His guiding hand in this transition time with our new pastor. May they each develop mutual trust and a commitment to the leading of the Holy Spirit that binds their relationship and produces a true partnership that will glorify the Lord as they serve Him together.”
God's faithfulness to His bride
God is faithful to His bride! Isn’t that an encouraging reality?! He has been faithful to our body of believers as we walk faithfully into a new season. And we know He will also be faithful to the body of believers where our next pastor will be coming from. This week’s prayer prompt is an intercession on behalf of a church who will have to go through this same process we are. But let’s also view it as a declaration of God’s faithfulness! He chooses to manifest His work through the church. And we know, without a doubt, He will continue to do so.
So please pray the following with us this week:
“Please lift up the churches we will visit during the Pastor Search process. Pray for unity and strength within these churches as we conduct our visits. As the Lord calls one Pastor to FBCSA, we pray that a spirit of peace and supreme confidence in the Shepherd reigns as that church releases him to us. May the Lord be bountiful in His provision of their next pastor.”
A wise man once said, “It is an eternal truth: we most often come to a fuller understanding of truth, a more effective discernment, in community with others than we do individually and alone.” There was intention in God’s design for His sons and daughters to live life in community with one another. It wasn’t merely for our own benefit. It was also so we would maintain a fuller view of His identity and a clearer discernment of His will.
As a church, through the Search Team process, we are exercising this truth. And prayer is the mode through which we are trying to see our next steps through God’s eyes. So, in diligent prayer together along with the larger church body, we are collectively finding our way forward and we rejoice in that! May your prayer times be inspired by the prayer prompt for this week below. Thank you for walking this journey with us!
“Lord, guide the pastor search team as they seek Your will for our new shepherd. We pray for unity with You and each other as the team seeks truth and wisdom.”
A Prayer for our Staff
For this week, your Search Team has been led to pray for our staff. No other group of people will feel this transition more regularly and strongly than they will. As leadership shifts for our congregation, it also shifts administratively within the walls of our office. Staff meetings, direct reports, worship planning and inter-office communication will begin to look different. Let’s lift our AMAZING administrative staff and ministers up to our Father with full faith He is ahead of us in this transition. Below you will find the prayer prompt for this week.
"Lord, grace our staff with your peace and strength as they enter this time of transition. May unity, brotherly love and patience bind their hearts and minds in this season of change.“
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
Just as your Search Team is praying for clarity of direction, we want to be praying the same for our coming pastor. God has been slowly revealing next steps to each of us; and we live in the hope He is doing the same for this new pastor. Please pray this with us:
“Pray for God to grant our new pastor a clear sense of call to this assignment. Pray that his heart remains soft, teachable, and humble before the Lord and is thereby prepared to obey God with strength, confidence, and joy.”
A prayer for the desire to seek God…
As many of you may be aware, the Search Committee has begun leading the church each Sunday with a prayer prompt for the offertory time in the service, which we hope you continue to pray throughout the week. It can also be found on the front page of the Highlights. We hope this not only spurs us toward prayer-filled lives in this search process, but toward unity as we go on this journey together.
This week is a prayer for a desire to seek God. The faith we have is in God, not a process or the results of a process. It is in Him and Him alone. So we hope you pray through the prompt below with us this week:
“Pray we seek God purely and desperately. Pray He ignites a burning desire to come before Him in humility of who we are and in confidence of who He is.”
Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.” Mark 3:20-21
Sometimes the people who know us the longest take the most work to adjust to change in our lives. For most of Jesus’ life, he had been just a son, a brother, a student, or a carpenter. His identity as the Son of God had yet to fully manifest itself through his work and ministry. So, after 30 years of one lifestyle, of course his mother worried when His new lifestyle was taking up all of His time and energy. So much time and energy that He even struggled to find time to eat. And of course it was a major adjustment for his brothers to see Him make such a drastic career change; not to mention to go from being revered by teachers and scribes to being ridiculed by them. Their hearts were in a loving place wanting what was best, yet blinded by the discomfort of change that they could not see what was best.
It is easy for us to fall into that same trap. When we have known something one way for so long, it can be difficult to embrace the change God is requiring of us to move deeper into His plan. And for us at First Baptist Church of San Antonio, this challenge is palpable. While our church has gone through tremendous transformation over the last 20 years, it has had a common trajectory and vision with consistent leadership from our pastor. And now God is making a shift. Let’s pray for peace and faith as we move through the discomfort of God changing us. It would be a shame to miss out on what He’s doing.
Hope Found in Humility
“Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’ Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” James 4:5-10
What would it look like if the purity of humility permeated every step of the search and transition processes for our church? What would it look like if in complete humility the Search Team submitted fully to the beckoning of the Spirit? What would it look like if our entire congregation humbly laid all our selfish desires down before God allowing His truth to ring louder than our wants? What would it look like for our future pastor to walk in perfect humility through the interviews, visits to our church, leaving his previous church and transition over several years into the role of Senior Pastor? What would it look like for the Transition Team to communicate with one another in humility and selflessness? Don’t these thoughts excite you?! There is tremendous hope in humility. With selfish desires set aside, our vision and hope for the future can be experienced with clarity and purity. So let’s pray toward that end! Let’s pray for deeply rooted, wide spread humility. A humility that can only be cultivated in and through the Holy Spirit, manifesting itself in the actions, words and lives of God’s people. May humility abound in the church family of FBC San Antonio.
“Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” Psalm 107:8-9
For those of you who attended the business meeting this week, you heard Matthew Benesh offer up a prayer of thanksgiving about the pastor-search process celebrating where God has brought us so far and where He is continuing to guide us. I hope you will join us in a prayer of thanksgiving. Thank God for speaking through our congregation to help create a pastor profile, aiding your Search Team to more effectively seek out our next leader. Thank God for the humility of Pastor Don to begin ushering us into this process and his continued discernment throughout the transition ahead. Thank God for the men and women appointed as our Transition Team. Thank God for His provision over each of our lives as a body of believers seeking His will in this season. Thank God for his goodness in working through First Baptist Church and what that will look like in the future. Needless to say, we have MUCH to be thankful for! Let’s spend the week declaring those things.
“I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.” Psalm 130:5-6
The liturgical calendar is nearing the end of “Ordinary Time.” This season of Ordinary Time makes up most of the liturgical year referring to those periods falling outside the major liturgical seasons such as Lent and Advent. Yet Ordinary Time is far from unimportant or uninteresting. It represents the times in our life when we are neither fasting nor feasting, but in watchful expectation of the second coming for Christ.
In our culture today (which can include church culture), we tend to live from feast to fasting without much regard for the mundane in between. Living with intention while waiting is not necessarily an American value. But it is a value found throughout Scripture. And, like the liturgical calendar, that season represents most our life as Christians.
As a Search Team, and as members of FBC San Antonio, we are in Ordinary Time. Together we wait taking the small steps required to move closer to clarity from the Lord. As Psalm 130 beautifully says, “…[our] whole being waits…” This discernment process can only be effective if immersed in prayer. So please join us in praying as an entire body waiting together. To wait with intent requires unity and active praying. It is a joy to share the waiting with you.
“The preparation of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD.” Proverbs 16:1 (KJV)
Proverbs 16 beautifully speaks into the plans, preparations and works of man. The wisdom expressed in this chapter is, without the Lord, our preparations are futile. Verse two warns that we can often be deceived to believe our ways are pure; however, God knows our motives. The most well-known verse being verse 18 speaking toward the destruction that comes with pride and the fall that comes with haughtiness. The challenge is to guard ourselves from ourselves. We have the power to convince and sway ourselves into thinking we know what is best for our future and our development.
Your Search Team feels your prayers. And we are incredibly grateful and humbled by the petitions you are making to the Lord on our behalf. But we hope you are praying for your own heart in this process as much if not more often than you are praying for the process itself. While 11 of us meet weekly working to discern God’s will in regards to our next pastor, we are ALL one body walking in this together. And we must all walk in the same direction ending up at the same place.
So please pray this prayer along with your Search Team: “God, prepare my heart. Prepare me to trust with all of who I am in the work You are doing and the path You are guiding us, as a church, down. Give me humility to discern the working of Your Spirit in this season. Allow me to see You clearly through my prayer life, in reading Scripture, in the circumstances around me and through Your people. Remove the barriers I have created which distort my vision. Please make the necessary shifts in my heart and mind to step with humble confidence into Your plan. I trust you, Lord.”
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” – 1 John 5:14-15
We come before Him with confidence: confidence that He will bring His will to fruition, confidence in our duty to discern His will with vigor and confidence that He hears our voice. And it is encouraging to know we serve a God who knows our every thought. So, in our prayer times, when we don’t know the words to say, He hears us. At Mid-Week in the City last week, guest speaker Tish Harrison Warren referenced a specific petition to the Lord when she was literally speechless. All she could do was lift her hands in an expectant fashion up to God with confidence He knew her heart. It is a beautiful depiction of the state of the hearts of your Search Team.
Join with us. Sometimes in this process of waiting on God’s direction in looking for our next pastor we become speechless. Together, let’s lift our hands up in expectant confidence He will answer. Praying is just as much making our requests known to God as it is rejoicing and declaring that He knows our future when we don’t necessarily get that privilege. He hears us church. He’s making way for His will to be made known. Let’s ready ourselves to receive it.
The Truths Dragons Reveal
“…behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth.” -Revelation 12:3-4
The study of Revelation makes me feel childlike all over again. It takes me to an imaginative place where dragons and beasts represent evil, people are given wings to flee danger and eventually the savior wins the battle. G.K. Chesterton said: “Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.” I’m not reducing Revelation to a fairy tale by any means. But this quote represents perfectly the way I as a child read these stories. I couldn’t always make sense of the symbolism, but in the end, I knew there was a winning side and I was on it. And it is the same feeling I get as I read Revelation today. I can easily become overwhelmed, but probably like John felt trying to describe a beast he had never encountered before by using features of animals he was familiar with, I work to not let a bit of uncertainty taint the ultimate picture of salvation this story is telling. I do this by holding on to the truths I know about my God.
As a church, we are looking toward the future with hopeful expectance and with a bit of uncertainty. As a committee it could be easy to be overwhelmed with the task at hand. But our prayer is to hold tightly to the truths we know about our Lord and the promises He has made us. So I hope you will join us in praying those reminders over our thoughts and actions. We serve a good God who has gone before us knowing full-well our future. In that, we trust.
A Sailboat Leader
“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13
It is amazing how the Spirit is able to compensate for our weaknesses. David and his stature against a giant, Moses and his lack of eloquence when speaking and Peter and John with their lack of education, these examples serve as a reminder of the eternal truth that in our weaknesses He is made strong. The metaphor Daniel Henderson uses to communicate this reality in his book Old Paths New Power, is of a powerboat and a sailboat. There are times when we become so distracted by creating a “powerful” motor behind our vehicle of ministry that we miss real power in the wind of the Holy Spirit. What would raising a sail to catch the Spirit’s movement look like for each of us in our ministry, in our families, at FBCSA and for our future? Henderson’s prayer below is what we as a Search Team are praying not only for ourselves in this process, but for our next pastor as the leader of our church:
“Lord, all my life I have been striving to be a powerboat for Christ. The hull of my type-A personality is cutting through the waters of ministry. I’ve had my hand on the throttle of effective leadership principles. I’ve filled my tank with the high-octane insights of a seminary education. I seemed to be making an impression with my visionary style. But…Forgive me. From this day forward would You teach me what it means to be a simple sailboat?”
-Daniel Henderson, Old Paths New Power
The View from the Front of the Boat
Now on one of those days Jesus and His disciples got into a boat, and He said to them, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they launched out. But as they were sailing along He fell asleep; and a fierce gale of wind descended on the lake, and they began to be swamped and to be in danger. They came to Jesus and woke Him up, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And He got up and rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm. And He said to them, “Where is your faith?” They were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?” Luke 8:22-25
We serve a God who not only calms storms, but who fearlessly leads us from the front of the boat. For those of you experiencing any level of fear regarding this next season the church is stepping into, remember, we are all following a capable Leader who knows all, created all and fears nothing. He spoke the earth into existence, He spoke the earth into stillness and He has a plan.
The Search Team’s role is to continue to look to our leader at the front of the boat and to walk with humble confidence into His plan. Join us in praying for that humble confidence. Pray as we open ourselves up to the Lord’s work through us to calm any waters of fear. And pray as we all sit in this boat together, that we maintain the faith Jesus refers to in verse 25, a faith in whom we serve and what He has called us to.
Ears to Hear
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the church.” Revelation 2:7 & 11, 3:6
If only hearing the voice of the Lord was as easy as turning on a soundboard and managing sound levels. Sometimes, the sounds of the Spirit require a much more intent focus and all-encompassing effort in order to listen and discern what’s being said. And the times we hear and respond are so sweet! Yet the times we allow ourselves to miss the Lord’s voice, we distort the message and miss out on the blessing. John makes sure to reiterate the command to hear the Spirit as it speaks to the churches in Revelation. I don’t think God’s command for FBCSA is much different.
Our prayer is to have ears to hear. We need ears to hear God through the church as you submit your survey responses regarding what our next pastor needs to be like, we need ears to hear the Lord through the staff as they meet with the Search Team and share where they see the church moving in the future and we need ears to hear once the Search Team begins to look through resumes. God is speaking. Now we just need to listen and discern. Please join us in a posture of receiving from the Lord.
“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—
A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.
A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.
… He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, 11
There is a difference between restlessness and righteous unrest. As we go through life, no matter our life stage, restlessness can creep into the crevices of our minds and hearts making us lack contentment with our current situation. Some of us grow restless by the unknown, some of us grow restless because we have experienced pain and don’t know what to do with it, some of us grow restless because life is not working out according to our plan or agenda. Regardless of the reason, restlessness can be dangerous and even sinful.
However, righteous unrest is something different. Righteous unrest comes from God and presses us into His story. This unrest can come when God has a new direction for our lives, it can come when there are new God-ordained opportunities on the horizon, it can also come when God is about to speak in a 2 Kings 19 way, through a whisper. Regardless of why it exists or how it is expressed, the origin is the same. Righteous unrest is from the Lord.
Here is the prayer we invite you into: God, may a righteous unrest fall upon our next pastor and his family. May he begin to feel Your powerful presence drawing him into a new chapter. And may he have the patience and endurance to wait on You. God, Your timing is good and perfect. As a search team, guide us into patient endurance as well. We hand over our plans, our agendas, our timeline and our future. You are sovereign and our faith is in You alone.
May they all be one
“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.” John 17:20-21
While this prayer was not specifically regarding Pastor Search Committees, your search team prays this over our group. We each represent different areas of ministry at First Baptist Church, we each have vastly different faith journeys, we each bring different perspectives to the table, our expressions of faith vary from person to person...the list can go on. Embracing this as the reality of our group dynamic, we ask God to continue to provide a spirit of unity among us. But not merely unity for unity’s sake! We are praying for unity so the world will see and know Christ as the One we are to follow. And that in turn, we as the church stay focused on who leads and guides our steps.
Please join in our prayer for unity. Pray for healthy disagreements and righteous consensus. We serve a God who values diversity and, in His beautiful way, also values the unity of believers. May we, as a team, depict this and live into the calling God has placed on each of us.
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness…” Matthew 6:33
We serve a good, faithful and sovereign God. And it is in Him we put all hope. We do so because He is worthy; and He is able. With this hope serving as momentum, we seek God. It’s sad that sometimes in our walks, our focus can shift and God can become a means to an end. We may seek God so that… we can be better leaders. We may seek God so that… a ministry will grow. We may seek God so that… we have healthier relationships with those in our life. It all sounds good, noble even. But our “so that’s” can often become our focus rather than the One who deserves our focus in its purest form and in its entirety.
Your Pastor Search Committee’s prayer is to not lose focus. Our desire is to seek God. No “so that’s” involved. Please pray with us along these lines. The prayer we are praying is that we seek God purely and desperately and that our next pastor is seeking God purely and desperately as well. And with this focus, we know we will all end up in the same place.