Recommendation from the Pastor Search Committee
On Thursday, October 5, 2017, our committee met at the altar in the sanctuary of LPBC, prayed and voted unanimously to recommend Rev. Randy Overstreet as our next Pastor. We are excited about Randy and more importantly excited about what the Lord is going to do with our congregation under Randy’s obedient leadership.
Randy met with the Personnel Committee and Deacons on October 15, 2017, and we have all agreed on the following timeline:
- Informational Meeting for Congregation - October 22, 2017 (3:00pm - 4:00pm)
- Brunch Reception for Randy and Sandra – November 4, 2017 (9:00am-11:00am)
- Randy to Preach in View of a Call – November 5, 2017 (10:30am Worship Service)
- Called Business Meeting - November 5, 2017 (Conclusion of 10:30am Worship Service)
- Randy’s First Sunday – December 3, 2017
Background on Our Search Process
Our team had its first meeting on Sunday, July 23, 2017, and we have met a dozen times as a group since then. We decided a few things early on that have guided us through the process to date. First, we have been committed to bathing this process in prayer and have asked everyone else in the congregation to do the same. Our primary prayer has been for God to clearly show us the man we know He has ordained to be the next pastor of Liberty Park Baptist Church. One of our consistent prayers toward this end has been for each of us to remove the “us” and the “I” and the “me” from the process and to focus on what “He” has in store for our church.
We also have divided up the work load among the group. While we have all been involved in all aspects of the search, we did divide up the leadership of the duties between Prayer, Communication and Candidates. Don and Gene have been spear-heading the prayer effort while Shelley and Bob have led our communication effort, including our listening sessions and communications to the congregation. Susan and John have been leading our efforts surrounding the candidates.
Another item we decided early in the process was that as seemingly viable candidates were presented to us, we would fully vet those candidates until God gave us a clear “no”. This is consistent with our confidence that God has one man picked out for this job and we are not running a secular process focused on identifying the “best” candidate out of a pool of candidates. We have been blessed by technology and the ability to learn a lot about a candidate without ever leaving our homes. Almost all of the candidates have multiple sermons available on-line and a lot of them have published written material as well.
Feedback from Listening Sessions
The listening sessions we held were very helpful in validating the attributes that we are seeking. We held sessions with both the ministerial and non-ministerial staff and of course had the two-part session with the congregation. Nate did a great job in helping us understand what Scripture has to say about the qualifications of a pastor and also did a great job in helping us focus on “God’s desires” as contrasted with “our desires”.
It was not a surprise that we got a lot of very consistent feedback from the listening sessions. As one member pointed out in one of the breakout groups, some qualities are “non-negotiable”. These are things like being a strong teacher of the Word, being missional, being a man of prayer, and being a good shepherd for the flock. We strongly agree with the characterization of these qualities as “non-negotiable” and have immediately dismissed any candidates that were not strong in each of these categories.
Two additional qualities were consistently mentioned in the listening session feedback. First, we need a pastor who is gifted with exceptional leadership abilities. This feedback used words like confident, motivator, encourager, equipper of others, energetic, enthusiastic, passionate, experienced, inspirational, unifier, and many other similar descriptions. We also received a lot of feedback on the need for a leader who, while plugged into the power source of the Holy Spirit, can cast aspirational, God-sized vision for our church and congregation.
Finally, the most consistent feedback we received was the need for a pastor who could lead us to connect with, relate to and reach the community in which we are located. A lot of people pointed out the challenges of reaching a neighborhood filled with individuals who have achieved great “success” in the world’s eyes but who are struggling and searching for the only thing that can eternally satisfy, the love of Christ. The feedback acknowledged that finding someone with the gifts to understand and minister to the needs of our community is of utmost importance to us.
We have had a tremendous response to the pastor job opening. To date, we have received more than 200 resumes. We have resumes from men in their 20s and 60s and every age band in between. We have applicants with 30+ years of pastoral experience and some right out of seminary. Many of the pastors are from the South, some from other parts of the country and a few that are currently serving in foreign countries. The process of reading the cover letters, reviewing the resumes, seeing the family pictures and listening to the sermons has been very time consuming but also has been very rewarding to see so many men who are seeking to further the Kingdom. We’ve prayed for these men and their families and current congregations. Many of them have indicated that they are praying for us as well.
As we reviewed and discussed these applicants, we reached a quick consensus on many of them that they are clearly not the man we are seeking. Other candidates have required more discussions and more digging and more listening to sermons.
Our Interactions with Randy
God gave us the name Randy Overstreet at our very first meeting. The ministers on staff had compiled a package of helpful information for our committee including several books on search committees, professional search firms who specialize in this area, Baptist association resources, and a list of known candidates for the interim pastor position. Assuming that Randy would not be interested in the pastor position, the staff had him listed as the overwhelming choice to be the interim pastor. Through some relationships that members of our committee and congregation had with Randy, we were aware that he did have an interest in the pastor opening.
As we began to receive resumes from numerous candidates, we also began the process of vetting Randy. Our committee met Randy for the first time on August 2, 2017. We were all very impressed with Randy’s energy, enthusiasm, relational skills, and passion for the lost. Randy shared the story of Double Oak Community Church and how the Lord had blessed him to be a part of a church plant that started with nothing and grew into a vibrant, impactful force for the Kingdom. We all took note of the similarities of the people who live in Mt. Laurel, Greystone, and Highland Lakes as compared to the communities that surround our church. Randy was clearly interested in the opportunity at LPBC but was also very happy in his current position with the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
We spent the next six weeks receiving, sorting and reviewing resumes, cover letters, sermons and anything else we could find on the numerous applicants for the pastor opening. During this time, we had the chance to review Randy’s resume and a lot of his sermons. We also used this time to check a number of references we had on Randy. These were not names he had provided us but individuals that we had personal relationships with that also knew Randy well. We had developed a pretty good picture of Randy during this time and it became very clear that he matched up really well with the input we had received from the listening sessions we held during August. We did have some questions that we wanted to explore with Randy and we did this in our second group meeting with him on September 10, 2017. We got most all of our group questions answered at this meeting but we did have some individual questions remaining. Over the next week, several of our committee members had individual meetings with Randy to cover additional questions they had.
We wanted to get some input from the current ministerial staff so we arranged a meeting with Randy and the staff. This meeting went really well and helped us confirm that Randy has an appropriate command of Scripture and that his beliefs and theology are consistent with LPBC.
On October 1, 2017, the committee and spouses hosted Randy and his wife, Sandra, for a dinner. We had heard a lot of really good things about Sandra and they were all confirmed in this meeting. We enjoyed the fellowship with Randy and Sandra in a relaxed setting.
God has been good and true to us during this entire process. As we became convinced that Randy met all of “our” requirements, we continued to pray that God would confirm for each of us on the committee that Randy is “His” man as well. He gave us each this affirmation in our own way and in our own time and we can’t wait to see what the Lord is going to do through our church under Randy’s obedient leadership.
Randy is a man of prayer, a strong teacher of the Word, a good shepherd for the flock, and missional. In addition, God has gifted him with some special abilities that are particularly pertinent to LPBC. First, Randy is an energetic, encouraging, motivating leader of people. He has experience in using these skills in a variety of church and missional settings. Second, Randy has the ability and desire to build personal relationships with most everyone he comes into contact with and a tremendous burden to share the love of Christ with those same people.
We are asking everyone to continue to pray for the Lord’s guidance for our congregation and also for Randy and Sandra as we look toward Randy coming to share with the congregation on the weekend of November 5, 2017.
Update from the pastor search committee - october 2, 2017
To date, we have received almost 200 resumes from applicants who range in age from 20s to 60s and whose experience varies from 30+ years as a senior pastor to just having graduated seminary. Some applicants are from the South, some from other parts of the country and a few are currently serving in foreign countries.
Consistent with our confidence that God has one man picked out for this job, as seemingly viable candidates have been presented to us, we have fully vetted those candidates until God has given us a clear "no". We have been blessed by technology and the ability to learn a lot about a candidate without ever leaving our homes. Almost all of the candidates have multiple sermons available online and a lot of them have published written material as well.
Thank you for all the words of encouragement and most of all for the prayers. As we continue the process, we ask that you continue to pray for us and fr the man that God has chosen to be our next pastor.
(To read this article in its entirety, click here.)