Greetings Capital Pres Family,
As we journey in this process together, you can now visit The Pastoral Search Committee’s webpage on our McLean and Fairfax websites, which centralizes all the information and resources to facilitate our partnership, including:
- Scriptural references to provide encouragement and guidance as we pray for our next senior pastor
- Link to send direct feedback and questions to the group
- Excerpts from the Book of Church Order to provide a window into the processes and procedures that govern our church
- Confidentiality Covenant that binds agreement across the group
Here is a quick video that introduces the webpage and shows you how to get to it on our website.
The committee is also in the process of putting together a congregational survey so we can systematically gather data and insight around compiling a church and pastor profile. In addition to this feedback effort, we will conduct listening sessions across dozens of communities at Capital Pres (CGs, Young Adults, Senior Saints, Crosstrainers, etc) so we can glean additional sentiment and perspective to inform The Pastoral Search Committee’s work.
We hope you find this news helpful and encouraging.
May God continue to give us all a Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that we can know Him and His hope, riches, and power better in this season (Ephesians 1:16-19).
Praising God for the unity we have in Christ,
The Pastoral Search Committee
Ellis Chaplin, Gene Goodell, Leslie Hobbs, Tricia Hollis, Rachel Hooker, Erica Hotmire, Jim Perry, Don Solberg, Eric Treene, Margie Watkins, Mark Whittle, Bruce Young, Daniel Zimmerman
The Pastoral Search Committee is delighted to let you know that we are up and running. We have kicked off with twice-weekly Zoom meetings, and one of our first objectives is to open lines of communication between the Congregation and the Committee. We want to hear from you and keep you informed regarding our progress.
How can you contribute to the Pastoral Search Committee?
- Send us your thoughts, questions, and suggestions by using this central email address: [email protected] We may not act on every suggestion, but we will prayerfully consider every message.
- Watch for periodic emails and Sunday announcements.
- Participate in any congregational surveys and other input opportunities that we may ask of you.
- Visit the coming landing page on the church website, where we will be updating a prayer guide, work plans, milestones/progress, and any congregational survey results, as appropriate.
We will strive to communicate frequently and thoroughly. However, until a candidate is put forward, we will maintain maximum confidentiality about our candidate pool. While we aim to communicate around what we are doing, we will be silent about whom we are doing it with. We hope you agree that this is the right way to treat candidates who are trusting us with their reputations and the feelings of their families and churches. We understand that a prolonged silence about the one thing we all care most about will be hard, so please be patient with your Pastoral Search Committee in this regard.
If you have any suggestions about other ways that we can effectively establish and maintain an open and constructive dialogue, please let us know.
In the interim, may you rest in God’s promise from Jeremiah 3:15: “And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.”
Yours in Christ,
The Pastoral Search Committee
(Dan Zimmerman, Chair; Bruce Young, Vice-Chair; Gene Goodell, Clerk; Ellis Chaplin, Leslie Hobbs, Tricia Hollis, Rachel Hooker, Erica Hotmire, Jim Perry, Don Solberg, Eric Treene, Margie Watkins, Mark Whittle)
What is the role of the Search Committee?
Each PCA congregation has the privilege and responsibility of selecting its own Senior Pastor. The Pastoral Search Committee was elected by the congregation to work on its behalf in that effort. The Committee does not select the pastor. Rather, it does the necessary background research, first gathering input from the Congregation and wise counsel from a variety of sources and then identifying and evaluating candidates accordingly.
“Then the pulpit committee shall, after consultation and deliberation, recommend to the congregation a candidate who, in its judgment, fulfills the Constitutional requirements of that office (e.g., BCO 8, 13-16, and 21)1 and is most suited to be profitable to the spiritual interests of the congregation.” (Book of Church Order 20-2) The congregation has the authority and responsibility to accept or reject that recommendation.
Who are the members of the Pastoral Search Committee?
The congregation elected 13 members to serve as the Committee. Please use this link to access short biographies for each member.
How long does a search process like this normally take?
Consultants who specialize in helping evangelical churches of our size and complexity conduct pastoral searches estimate the process normally takes 6 – 18 months. Our two most recent Pastoral searches indicate that range should be appropriate for us to use in setting our expectations.
How can I pray for the church, the Committee, and the process?
Please use this link to find our most recent requests for prayer support.
Will the Committee share information about their process and the candidates being considered before a candidate is presented?
The Committee will attempt to over-communicate with regards our process while maintaining absolute confidentiality with regards any people affected by that process. Please see our Commitment of Confidentiality for more detail.
How do I submit the name of a candidate for Senior Pastor?
Please send us the candidates name and current role, along with any other information you want us to know, at [email protected].
Why do PCA churches choose their own pastor?
The Book of Church Order, which is part of our denomination’s constitution, states that “The government of the Church is [conducted] by officers gifted to represent Christ, and the right of God’s people to recognize by election to office those so gifted is inalienable. Therefore no man can be placed over a church in any office without the election, or at least the consent of that church.” (Book of Church Order 16-2)1
This declaration is anchored in two truths. First, that the sole authority in the Church is the Lord Jesus Christ. Second, that any power excercised by the Church is committed to the Church by Christ and is vested in a priesthood of all believers who stand equal before God. If the Holy Spirit wishes any man to hold an office in a particular church, He uses those believers in that church to call that man to that office. Each particular church is the “sacred unit” for calling those who will lead them. So their collective voice must be respected. When members of a church differ, the expression of the majority through voting determines that collective voice and also calls into practice the principle of submission to the brethren.
Is the new Senior Pastor elected by a simple majority?
Yes … with two caveats. First, “On the election of a pastor, if it appears that a large minority of the voters are averse to the candidate who has received the majority of the votes, and cannot be induced to concur in the call, the moderator shall endeavor to dissuade the majority from prosecuting it further, but if the electors being nearly or quite unanimous, or if the majority shall insist upon their right to call Pastor, the moderator shall proceed to draw a call in due form, certifying at the same time in writing the number of those who do not concur in the call, and any facts of the importance, all of which proceedings shall be laid before the Presbytery, together with the call.” (Book of Church Order 20-5)1
The second exception addresses internal candidates, who must meet or exceed an 80% threshold. “The associate or assistant pastors may continue to serve a congregation when the pastoral relation of the senior pastor is dissolved, but they may not normally succeed the senior pastor without an intervening term of service in a different field of labor. However a congregation by a secret ballot with four- fifths (4/5) majority vote may petition Presbytery for an exception which by a three-fourths (3/4) majority vote Presbytery may grant. Presbytery needs to determine if the dissolution of the pastoral relationship with the senior pastor was brought about in Christian love and good order on the part of the parties concerned. (Book of Church Order 23-1)1
Two principles are at work here. First, unity is of paramount importance both to the peace and purity of the church and to the credibility of her external witness. Therefore, a church should take all reasonable steps to avoid the disunity which may result from pursuing a call in spite of principled objections by a sizable minority. Second, due to the fallen nature of man even a clear majority view can be in error. In that case the consciences of an unconvinced minority may offer a vital warning against such error. Therefore a church should take all reasonable steps to utilize, as a potential source of wisdom, the consciences of those holding objections.
What is the Presbytery’s role in choosing a pastor?
After the congregation has voted to approve a candidate, that congregation – by public vote – appoints a commission to “prosecute the call before its Presbytery.” “The Presbytery, having heard all the parties, may, upon reviewing the whole case, either recommend them to desist from prosecuting the call; or may order it to be delivered to the minister to whom it is addressed, with or without advice; or may decline to place a call in his hands; as it shall appear most beneficial for the peace and edification of the Church at large.” (Book of Church Order 20-10)1
What are the qualifications for a Pastor (Teaching Elder) in the PCA?
Because the Pastor is so important to God’s people (Jeremiah 3:15) and because “those who teach shall be judged more strictly” (James. 3:1) great care is taken to properly qualify men for the calling of Teaching Elder (Pastor). To become a Teaching Elder in the PCA a man must:
- Earn a Bachelor or Master degree from an approved college or university
- Also earn a Bachelor or Master degree from an approved theological seminary or a theological study program as approved by the General Assembly.
- Serve a one-year internship while a member at a particular church under care by his Presbytery.
- Meet the Constitutional requirements for the office of Elder as found in BCO 8-1 through 8-3.
- Meet the Constitutional requirements for the calling of Teaching Elder as found in BCO 8-4 through 8-6.
- Become licensed by passing an “ordination trial” that includes written and oral examinations covering:
- A statement of his faith and his calling
- Basic knowledge of doctrine as outlined in the Confession of Faith and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms.
- Practical knowledge of Bible content and its application (Please see BCO 21-4-c for the exhaustive list of the 15 major components of “ordination trials”.)
- Have been ordained into the PCA or else admitted by transfer as spelled out in BCO 13-6.1
What is the distinction between a Teaching Elder (Pastor) and a Ruling Elder?
According to the BCO the Scripture describes one office of Elder comprised of those who meet the Constitutional requirements found in BCO 8-1 through 8-3. As noted in 8-3 those believers “jointly and severally exercise government, shepherding, discipline, and oversight of the spiritual interests of their particular church and of the Church generally.”
But within that one office I Tim. 5:17 distinguishes two groupings. All elders are required to “rule well” (Greek καλῶς προεστῶτες, “diligently lead or influence”) and to be able to teach (I Tim. 3:2). But a sub-set of elders are called to diligently “labor (literally ‘exhaust themselves’) “in the word and in doctrine.” “Those elders who are gifted, called, and trained by God to preach may serve as teaching elders.” (please see BCO 7-2.)1
In our tradition teaching elders are not only uniquely called to “feed the flock by reading, expounding, and preaching the Word of God” but they alone can also “administer the sacraments” (BCO 8-5.), specifically baptism (BCO 56-1.) and the Lord’s supper. (BCO 58-4 ff.)
According to scripture, what is a Pastor’s role?
The only scripture that specifically uses the English word “pastor” is Ephesians 4:11, 12. Those verses teach that God gave the church “pastors” as well as “evangelists” and “teachers” “to equipping the saints [the lay-members of the church] to do the work of ministry.”
Beyond that, Paul’s instructions to a young pastor in I Timothy I and II can infer a more detailed “job description.” The important duties that the Holy Spirit called out are:
- Rightly handle the word of truth
- Preach the word in season and out of season
- Focus on teaching sound doctrine
- Relentlessly refute erroneous doctrine
- Pray for the church and its members
- Teach a few individuals everything you know and teach them to teach those things to others
- Pursue personal holiness in order to set a good example in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity within the church
- Set a good example outside the church in the larger community
- Suffer patiently, as necessary, for the sake of the gospel
1 For those who are not familiar with the Book of Church Order (BCO).
The BCO, along with the Scriptures and The Westminster Confession, comprise the Constitution of the PCA and several other conservative Reformed denominations. The BCO has a particular focus on the practical details of church governance and polity. It is not inspired and is considered the least authoritative or binding of the 3 core documents. That said, it is well-crafted and comprehensive. Since its original publication 231 years ago it has undergone constant scrutiny and regular refinement and updating in an attempt to capture the collected wisdom and experience of our current leaders, our fathers in the Reformed faith and their forefathers as reflected in Scripture.
If you have a question you want us to post and answer please send it our way by using this email address: [email protected]. Thank you.