Hiring a New Director of Student Ministries

Hello Friends of Aspen Ridge Church,

On the occasion of a candidate weekend (January 14/15) for our search team’s recommendation for Director of Student Ministry, I thought I would describe a handful of convictions about how we discern God’s leading in an important matter like this. It cannot be stated too strongly that a decision about how we support our students toward the fulfillment of our vision is vital to the health of Aspen Ridge for our present and our future ministry.

Process
It was important to our church leadership not to rush the process. We intended to be prayerful and deliberative. Therefore, we put healthy leadership in place for the “in-between” season with our students. I would like to extend a huge “thank you” to Marty Lake (Interim Director of Student Ministry) and also Jedidiah Adams (Intern) for doing such a fine job with this important ministry. Also, thank you to the adults, parents and students who so faithfully gave of themselves to our students! When it came to working with our search team, we wanted to respectfully listen to the Lord, to wise counsel, to various candidates and to each other. This process took time, but I firmly believe that a healthy process is vital to the product. I am pleased to share that we had a healthy process leading toward this recommendation.

Teaming
It was important for us to put together a team that had a significant investment in the ministry and ownership of where we were and where we wanted to go. We began by identifying a chairperson for the search team. There were significant advantages to the chairperson being a respected member of Aspen Ridge who is not on our pastoral staff or existing Elder Board. There were also advantages in having a person with a measure of experience in these types of searches. I am thankful to Ron Kilgore for the fine job he did in leading this team. Let me also say that team members needed to be able to play their role on the team while still having the self-assuredness to speak up with their opinions and feelings. Team members needed to be able to identify their own inklings while also seek the best for the church. We were depending upon the Lord through prayer, together.

Prayer
Significant attention has been given to discerning God’s leading in this whole matter. This includes personal prayers, team prayers, church-wide prayers and even prayer leading up to our candidate weekend. Our church belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ, and he has appointed prayer as a means of giving himself and his best gifts to us. We are establishing a church-wide prayer meeting for Sunday, January 8 at 10:00 AM, in the Fellowship Hall. We are also setting aside time during our Ministry Team Leaders and Elder Board meetings on January 10. Finally, we are giving over our Men’s Breakfast on Saturday, January 14, to prayer at 8:00 AM. It’s time to pray!

Wise Counsel
Calling upon God is not in opposition to seeking wise counsel. In the same way that our church leadership sought practical and intentional support to previous searches, so did we seek the same sort of support for our Director of Student Ministry search. Ron Kilgore and his team interviewed prospective search consultants, finally landing on Brian Aaby of Youth Specialties. Brian has significant experience with student ministry search teams, and he networks extensively with churches. He also has influence with a national network of candidates. After visiting with us for a day and consulting various leaders, Brian constructed an opportunity profile that eventually led toward attracting the best candidates. Brian sifted through some 50 potential candidates, presenting 4 for our consideration.

Decision-Making
My thoughts on how we would decide included seeking a unity of “spirit,” though not of structure. What this meant was that we were not bound to a formal unanimous vote prior to making a recommendation of a candidate. This was on purpose, so that each member of the team could freely express his or her views. We gave respect to each other and listened to each other and the Lord. I am pleased to say that there was, indeed, complete and unanimous agreement on the way God led in this search. An especially big challenge was to determine God’s best in the middle of many good options. We were presented with four strong candidates. We walked through a prayerful process of elimination that brought ourselves to a top three, then a top two, and then a top candidate (who we now present to you with unanimous and whole-hearted support).

Elder Board
At the end of the day, when it comes to hiring a director-level position, our church constitution gives our elder board discretion to make the hire. However, we have had some conversations with our candidate about becoming an Associate Pastor of Student Ministries. If our candidate pursues this path, it will involve writing a 15-page position-paper on matters theological and explaining this paper before our church elders. In light of the possibility of our candidate pursuing this in the coming months, our Elder Board has decided to call for a vote of Aspen Ridge membership on his candidacy. If we were hiring an Associate Pastor, this would be a constitutional requirement. Even though we are hiring a Director of Student Ministry, we are choosing to build a church vote into the process. Therefore, on the weekend of January 21/22, we will give (and receive) voting ballots to our church membership on this proposed candidate.

We have been given a mission by our Lord Jesus Christ to “make disciples of all nations.” This includes students and families in our Conifer/Evergreen region. May God guide us into a season of growth and training in the Christian way for the fulfillment of our purpose: inviting neighbors to find a home in Christ together.

In Christian Love,

Pastor Jef