My goal is to update our succession progress every couple of months. I’m a month behind due to vacation! Last summer, I asked the Elders to begin the process of finding my successor as Lead Pastor. We actively began looking at candidates as 2021 began. My plan is not to leave Tucson or Pantano; however, I think everyone is best served to have a younger man lead our church in the near future. Here’s where things stand as of today:
The Search Process
Here’s the process in review; Slingshot, our search company, gives the Pantano Interview Team extensive portfolios vetted based on the profile of the Lead Pastor we are looking for. Our trained Interview Team of diverse non-staff members takes an initial look at a candidate’s profile. They decide whether to offer the person one or more interviews. After one or more interviews, they may or may not recommend a candidate to the Elders for review. Then, our Elders look at the profile and hear the Interview Team’s recommendations and decide if they want to interview the candidate. If they have a favorable interview or interviews, they will ask our staff Executive Team to interview the candidate. If the Executive Team makes a positive recommendation, the candidate might be offered onsite interviews. That last step hasn’t happened yet with any of the potential candidates.
The Last Seven Months
Slingshot has sorted through many candidate profiles. Since we started, we’ve received 12 candidates from the search firm. All 12 have been dismissed after various levels of interviews.
The candidates were dismissed either because there was a lack of experience and/or formal ministry and Bible education, their teaching style, or concerns about being a good fit at Pantano. In addition, there are two main reasons why some potentially qualified candidates might not want to consider our church: 1) location (the hot, dry desert or far from extended family) and 2) concerns about following a long-tenured pastor who’s been at Pantano as long as I have (wondering if the church will support the “next guy” as you’ve supported me).
The Elders met with Slingshot to refine the kind of Lead Pastor we are looking for to get a more focused set of candidates. We want to look at racially diverse options, and we want candidates with at least seven years of experience in an executive-level leadership position in a large church.
Slingshot said they would be providing us with some new candidates in the upcoming weeks. We are also confirming that our Interview Team is willing to continue to serve. This process takes a lot of time, and the team members are spiritually and emotionally invested in this process.
Finally, be assured that I’m still leading our church. I haven’t checked out, but rather I’m invested in helping Pantano be healthy, strong, growing, and vibrant. Like the words from the song My Testimony that we sang the last two Sundays:
If I’m not dead, You’re not done
Greater things are still to come
Oh I believe
Well, Jesus isn’t dead, so I’m not done. I’m not tired. I believe God still has greater things planned for us. And I always value and appreciate your prayers as I lead our church.
Please continue to pray for Slingshot, the Interview Team, and Elders as we continue this process. And pray that God will provide the right person of character and vision to lead us forward to an even better future as a church.
We are clearly in the rebuilding phase as we continue to move past the COVID world that limited so many for so long. Here are a few areas where we are making progress:
Our Interview Team has spent a lot of time looking at the profiles of 10 candidates and interviewing them. Four candidates are still in active status with the Elders. Keep praying for the Interview Team and Elders as they continue to look at and speak to these candidates.
We gave our Christmas Eve offering to help a church plant in El Oro, Ecuador. They are making steady construction progress. Currently, 150 adults and 100 children are attending the church! The church team reports that they feel the grace of God surrounding them and are so grateful for our partnership. They have completed the bathrooms, two classrooms, and the kitchen. The construction of the multipurpose room and two more classrooms are still in process and will be completed in 2 months.
The church holds times of fasting and prayer, and Bible studies. The church has baptized 250 people, and more than 300 people have made a profession of faith. The church sees God’s power at work in their community. Men who were drug addicts, gang members, and criminals are converting to Christ and serving the church.
It’s been over 30 years since we have addressed the lower part of our auditorium, and it’s long overdue for some repairs and upgrades. We are just finishing up the architectural drawings for some updates, then we’ll be in the process of getting permits. Possibly in July, we’ll start a 3-month project that will: 1) remove the dangerous slope and install lighted stairs, 2) replace the pews that are breaking with theater-style chairs, 3) install new carpet and a few other needed fixes. As we get closer to actual construction, we’ll give you more details. During construction, we’ll be turning the café court into our worship area that will continue to facilitate an excellent worship experience.
Thank you for your continued partnership with Pantano and all God is doing in 2021!