As the ground begins to thaw (hopefully), we continue to experience change at First Baptist. It was wonderful to experience Matt’s ordination at the end of February; we now face the reality of his absence. What does that mean for us? Who will do the work that he has been doing? What is going to happen next? While some questions remain unanswered, I would like to fill you in on what we do know.
We have been fortunate in that we have had several months to prepare for Matt’s departure. We have been careful to identify unfinished projects that would help us as we learn to live without Matt. Two main projects have to do with the sound and media equipment. We have aging technology that hinders our ability to streamline our sound and media. We have identified weak links in our technology and are in the process of replacing the sound board and projector. These improvements will make it easier for the sound and media volunteers. While Matt did much of this work, we will be able to function primarily with volunteers in this area.
An obvious question has to do with worship leadership. Matt has been able to equip volunteers in many areas, but having a key person to lead is important. We have identified three students who will work in this area. Jericho ?? has been working with the choir for several weeks now. He will continue this learning experience. Two others students from Taylor University have agreed to work with the praise band in the late service. They will rotate responsibilities each week. It is exciting to offer these opportunities to students who are looking for the experience to lead. We will continue to serve as an equipping church as we empower students to serve.
Leading worship is a visible way in which Matt served the church. But the behind-the-scenes planning required much time and attention. Who will do this work? While Julie Kirklin serves as Worship Coordinator, it would be impossible for her to carry the weight of this responsibility alone. A team will work together to organize and plan the worship services. Dana Davis will be the early service coordinator. She will organize a team to do the work of planning early worship. Adam and Jessica Fink will serve as late service coordinators. They will arrange the various pieces each week, relying on team members to take care of particular aspects of worship. I will work with the coordinators, giving and receiving information to plan worship each week. Certainly this model requires volunteers to take on more responsibility. At the same time, this sort of approach allows for members of the church to be involved, expressing their gifts for the building up of the body. As Paul wrote to the church at Corinth,
(1 Corinthians 12:27 NIV) Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
Replacing our Associate Pastor
I have been asked several times, Are we going to replace Matt? The question might be phrased Are we going to hire another Associate Pastor who leads worship? The immediate answer is that we are not sure. This is a question that needs time and attention. We plan to work through our discernment process (the one that we have used on a number of occasions) to discern God’s plan in this area. We are certainly a different congregation than we were four years ago. We have different needs and God may be calling us in new ways. We need to figure this out. The beauty of the discernment process is that allows for everyone to have a voice. Opportunities for your feedback will come as we work the process. It will take several months to do the work involved.
Decreasing staff is never an easy transition. I am sure that we will find tasks that go undone. At the same time, I am confident that the church will step up to the challenge. I am sure that God will provide for all that He is calling us to do.