The Search

April 30, 2019
by JJ Ollerenshaw

Matthew 16:18b – I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. (NIV)

The church that I attend, like many others today, is searching for a new pastor. Our pastor retired two years ago, after serving us for three decades. He still attends, along with his children and grandchildren. We knew that it would be difficult to replace him, but we did not realize how difficult that task would be. Dozens of pastors have been considered. For various reasons, every name has been crossed off the list.

We are a large congregation with a new building and a lot to offer the community. Programs continued. The assistant pastor stepped in; a retired ordained member became a regular; we welcome guest speakers. "Discovery Weekend" ascertained exactly what we were looking for. But as time passed, the congregation grew restless. Some of the sheep began to stray.

There was a name considered at the beginning of the search process: a pastor who had attended our church as a teen. After ordination, he was called to the United States. When our search began, he had just renewed his work visa to continue serving there, so the timing was not right.

Eventually, his name re-surfaced. An election in the United States caused some laws to be changed, and when this pastor tried to renew his visa again, he was instructed to return to Canada and apply from here. The process would take a year, and there were no guarantees.

We were sorry that he, his family, and their church were reeling from the blow, and we mistakenly assumed that God was orchestrating events and leading him to us. Our church was packed on the day that he came to preach. The vote to call him was practically unanimous. But what a shock to find out that he had also been called elsewhere in Canada! When he confirmed that he'd accepted the other call, we were sorely disappointed.

Our search continues. We must remember that our task is not only to worship together, but to surrender total control of our lives to Jesus. The Bible tells us that all believers are members of a royal priesthood. The church is built on a rock, and Christ is the cornerstone. We "are being built like living stones into a spiritual temple." (1 Peter 2:5 CEB Common English Bible)

Colossians 1:18 – And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body. (MSG)

We are human, but the church is not a man-made project. Buildings may close, but new groups form elsewhere. The church is divine and cannot fail; it is Jesus' responsibility. What God began, He will sustain. Who can stop the Lord Almighty? We know that God will lead a pastor to us. Our duty is to wait for His perfect timing and continue the work that He has given us.

Prayer: Lord, give us the strength to bloom where You plant us. We are impatient. Often, we do not understand Your ways. But we can be assured that You are a precious cornerstone anchoring Your family, the church — and nothing can stop its growth. Amen.

About the author:

JJ Ollerenshaw <sandjollie86@gmail.com>
Belleville, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Prayers your way, JJ.


    So true, God bless you in your continued search!


    Good devotional. I admire the congregation, allowing time for God to provide the right minister.


    Praying for your church family to find a new pastor according to God’s will and loving grace. Blessings.


    As a former resident of Belleville and a teacher there as well, I have to be wondering which Church can be.


    O, J.J! You write so well, and your understanding goes so deep! Your church search goes on my prayer list today.


    We went through the process of hiring and interviewing pastors as well. Remember your prayers and leave it to God. Our new pastor is wonderful, he is indeed a gift from our Father.


    Hi JJ,
    It is sometimes hard to find a pastor for the church, but quite often the variety of Pastors and preachers who “Fill in” during a vacancy also bring blessings to the congregation of the believers. I know that from experience.
    Thank you for writing.


    Hi there,
    Wanted to say thank you for sharing the devotional with us today. Though none of us know when, where, or how God will provide when we have a specific need, … we know in His time He will. Sounds like you and the congregation only want God’s will in this matter and are not only praying but also willing to wait for His provision. Amen!


    Hello
    I will be praying with you and the others for God to send the right Pastor to this church. I have been in that position twice and it is not always easy as you pray and wait and believe the right one is coming.
    Praying for success in the search for the right Pastor and trusting all else is good with you.
    God bless.


    Our pastor was asked to leave by our Board of Elders. I don’t know why. We have a transitional pastor. He came to us and we know he’ll be here for awhile. We know the church will find it difficult. We are a small, rural community. We, too, must remember that WE are the Church and, like you, can serve ourselves until God sends us the right person for our family.
    Blessings.


    Hello JJ,
    I sure understand your situation as our church went through this same situation not long ago. We now have a minister in place, and it is good having stability and continuity in leadership again. My prayers that God will soon bring the right person forward to serve your congregation.
    Blessings for your contribution to devotionals.
    (B.C.)


    As an elder I have been through his process and it is very demanding.
    Sometimes God has a surprise.
    One time a person appeared, out of the blue, who we had not even considered and was a perfect fit.
    God is always in control.
    And if a mistake is made it will be fixed.
    Pray for wisdom.
    Bless you.


    Thank you for that encouragement. The pastor here is retiring soon and some in the congregation have expressed concern for the vacancy. He has been here for a while now and yes, “replacing” him will be a challenge. I have told them that it is a time for earnest prayer and for people to come together in strength. It is surprising who comes to the fore in leadership and service during a vacancy and often hidden gifts are uncovered, so since we know that God has a plan, we need to take courage and be strong. The Lord will provide a way. Blessings on your day!


    Thanks for a good word JJ. This interim time l believe is exactly what your congregation needs so that a new pastor can come and succeed. It is VERY difficult for a pastor to come in after a long-term pastor leaves. It is even more difficult when the retired pastor and his family remains in the church as a member. Things need to really cool down. The people need to get over the way it has always been and be prepared for a new and very different shepherd from the one they had. They may all be gung-ho but old habits die hard. Likewise, for the retired pastor. This has been his flock for a very long time and you better believe he still sees it that way in his heart. You don’t just walk away from your flock and not keep an eagle eye on whoever else has been hired to now shepherd them. It will take a very special pastor to come in and succeed amidst these factors and l’m sure God has the right one as you say in His time, when He knows people are truly ready.
    Blessings.


    “Let’s bloom where we are planted,” gives such hope because God has the power to let us make a garden of his fruit, anywhere we are. Thanks, JJ.
    Blessings to your day.


    Dear JJ,
    I pray with you and the people of the church that you will soon have the person of God’s Choice as minister.
    In the meantime, I pray that persons with suitable spirituality and understanding of the Word of Our Lord will be touched by God to fill the pulpit and uplift the people to His throne.
    Amen.


    Thank you for the reminder that the church is divine and cannot fail.


    Hello JJ,
    What an encouraging message – both corporately and personally!
    Your last paragraph and prayer are powerful, and a real blessing.
    Thank you, and indeed, the Lord will provide!
    Blessings,
    (BC)

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