Pastor Jim writes: “For the past few years I have been sensing the Lord telling me that it’s time to prepare to pass the baton to someone new to serve as our Sr. Pastor. I brought this up to the Elders about two years ago. The board and I began discussions about that and prayed extensively over it. During the Spring of 2019 our Leadership Team read the book Next: Pastoral Succession that Works. In May 2019 we gathered to discuss the book and to pray over the future. We then hired the Vanderbloemen Search Group – a recruitment firm that specializes in assisting churches with pastoral transitions - to consult with us and give us their professional guidance.”
Vanderbloemen began working with the Elders during the summer of 2019. In September of that year, Vanderbloemen spent two days with us in person, speaking with the Elders, pastors, and key staff and ministry leaders. They also met with a group of members of the congregation who were asked to keep those discussions in confidence. From September 2019 through July 2020, the Elders engaged in prayer and discussion over this transition.
In June 2020 Pastor Jim informed the Elders that he would like to make the transition from full time to part time ministry on July 1, 2021. This process culminated in August 2020 with the Elders making the recommendation to pass the baton to Tung Le on July 1, 2021 as our new Sr. Pastor.
The goal of the Elders is to ensure the passing of the baton happens with great unity and without a loss of momentum for Lake City Community Church. If the congregation approves this proposal at a congregational meeting in October the church will begin a transition process led by a Transition Task Force made up of pastors, Elders, ministry leaders, and members of the congregation.
The plan then is for Tung to rejoin the Elder Board in November (he has been on a sabbatical from the board since last September), to join our pastoral staff in a part-time role in January 2021, and to continue seminary courses. In July 2021 Tung will receive the mantle of Sr. Pastor from Jim, and Jim will take an extended sabbatical to give time for the church family to begin looking to Tung as our new senior leader. Jim will return after sabbatical in a part-time Pastor Emeritus role. His likely duties will include preaching occasionally, teaching classes, leading Holy Land Tours, mentoring Tung during his first year or two, and other duties as assigned by the Elders.
Spring 2018 – Pastor Jim informed the Elders of the need to prepare for his eventual transition
Spring 2019 – Elders and key staff read Next: Pastoral Succession That Works
Sept. 2019 – Elders and key members meet with Vanderbloemen Search Group
Sept. 2019 - July 2020 – Elders engage in prayer and discussion about transition
June 2020 – Pastor Jim informs the Elders that he desires to pass the baton on July 1, 2021
Aug. 2020 – The Elders approve the plan to recommend Tung to the congregation to be our next Sr. Pastor
Sept. 2020 – Transition Task Force is formed to assist with our transition
Sept. 26/27, 2020 – Pastor Jim informs the congregation
Oct. 5, 2020 – Town Hall meeting to answer questions & hear from Tung
Oct. 21, 2020 – Congregational meeting to vote on this transition proposal
We are delighted to introduce our Sr. Pastor candidate, Tung Le. For many in our church family, Tung and his family need no introduction. But for some newer folks Tung may be less well known.
The Le’s joined Lake City Community Church in 2003 and have been very involved in our church family ever since. Tung has served on our Elder Board for 15 years, taking a sabbatical one year ago when we began the discussion about our Sr. Pastor transition. Before then, Tung served as chairman of the Elders for 6 years. He has also served as an usher, a small group leader, a small group coach, church Treasurer, and a regular member of the preaching team.
Tung sensed the Lord calling him into pastoral ministry in 2010 and began taking seminary classes in 2012. He is resuming classes at Whitefield Theological Seminary and expects to complete his Master of Ministry in Pastoral Studies sometime in 2021. WTS has two tracks and Tung is enrolled in the Baptist track which aligns more closely with LC3 doctrine.
The Elders of LC3 have been praying and considering who should be our next Sr. Pastor for almost two years. After considering the recommendation of Pastor Jim, and the input of Tim Stevens (our consultant from Vanderbloemen Search Group) we are recommending Tung Le become our next Sr. Pastor on July 1, 2021. The reasons for this recommendation are many. Tung knows and loves the Lord deeply. He meets the Scriptural qualification of a Pastor as outlined in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. We have had plenty of time to observe his life and we know how much he loves and is committed to the congregation of LC3. He and his family have been actively and faithfully serving the Lord among us for the past 17 years. The congregation loves Tung and Debbie and they respond well to his preaching. Tung has good relationships with the staff of LC3 which is a great advantage. When the pastoral staff was asked (in the spring & summer 2020) about who they believed would be the best choice to be our next Sr. Pastor they unanimously affirmed Tung. Finally, Pastor Jim and Tung have a very positive relationship and they desire to continue to serve together in the coming years.
The Elders invite you to participate in an all-church Town Hall meeting on Monday, October 5 at 7:00 pm. It will be a live in-person meeting in the Worship Center and will also be streamed on Facebook Live. It will be a chance for us to explain more about the process and to hear from Tung about his heart and thoughts about being our candidate for Sr. Pastor. You will have an opportunity to ask questions (both in person and via text for those watching online) of Pastor Jim, Randy Madson (Elder chairman), and Tung Le.
After the Town Hall meeting we will mail out ballots to the members of LC3 for the vote on the proposal for Tung to be our next Sr. Pastor when Pastor Jim steps down in July. The congregational meeting where we will vote in person and answer any final questions is scheduled for later in October at a date to be announced. This meeting will be in person and also streamed on Facebook Live for your convenience.
Q1 - Why is Pastor Jim transitioning from Sr. Pastor?
A: Pastor Jim is not leaving LC3; he is transitioning into a part-time role. This was initiated solely by Pastor Jim and Jaci, after much prayer about their future. Now 67 years old, Jim has been sensing a gradual decline in his physical and emotional energy levels for the last five years or so. Jim and Jaci have five children and ten grandchildren, and they desire more time to invest in their family while they have good health. There is never a good time to step down as Sr. Pastor, but God has led them to decide he is ready and the church stands on a strong foundation to make this change. Jim is the 11th pastor who has served us over our 97 year history as a church. We are honored that Pastor Jim dedicated the last 21 years to leading our church family. We look forward to many more years of his service in a different capacity on our Leadership Team.
Q2 - Who is on the Elder board of LC3?
A: God has been very kind to LC3 and has blessed us with a strong team of Elders, pastors, and staff who are committed to leading us as a congregation. The Elders are the ones who have been processing this transition with Pastor Jim over the last couple of years. Our Elder chairman is Randy Madson. John Haddick is our vice chair and John Schock is our secretary. Other Elders include Brian Anderson, Dan Tchobanoff, Tim Edgren, and Jim Kennington. Tung Le is also an elder, although he is currently on sabbatical.
Q3 - Who is the Vanderbloemen Search Group and how did they help us?
A: Vanderbloemen is the leading Christian Search Firm in the nation serving churches, Christian schools, and other ministries. They have over 25 years of experience in this arena. After reading the book written by William Vanderbloemen about navigating pastoral transitions we spoke with them and ended up hiring them to consult us during this transition. LC3 Elders met with Tim Stevens in September 2019. Tim also interviewed our pastoral team and met with a focus group that was representative of our congregation. He then debriefed with our Elders and gave his recommendations to us for a successful transition.
Q4 - Did the Elders consider an external search process?
A: The Elders seriously explored in depth the pros and cons of doing an external search with our consultant from Vanderbloemen. However, doing a full-blown search would mean an investment of $35,000-$40,000. It would also require about 6-9 months for a search committee to work diligently on a pastoral search, providing a shorter time period in which to plan for a smooth transition. In the end we decided that with all the turmoil of the past 7 months (COVID, racial tension, etc.) an internal candidate makes a lot of sense for us at this time and provides much-needed stability. The elders came to the conclusion that we have an excellent internal candidate already that God has prepared for such a time as this.
Q5 - What other advantages are there for an internal candidate?
A: In addition to the stability provided during a challenging year, there are multiple other advantages of an internal candidate that we also weighed. First, hiring an internal candidate helps us maintain our present culture and philosophy of ministry, and build upon the last 21 years of vision and values that Pastor Jim and our Elders have established. Second, an internal candidate already has the relationships and trust of the congregation. Third, an internal candidate would be more able and willing to work in partnership with Pastor Jim as he transitions into a new role.
Q6 - Does Tung have enough experience to step into the role as Sr. Pastor?
A: Tung may not have resume experience as a Sr. Pastor, but he has unique experience as a senior leader in business and among our LC3 ministry team. We have relied on Tung for many years to guide us in strategic planning and making hard decisions as a ministry team. We have found him to be a valuable source of godly wisdom. When we met with Tim Stevens, he noted he often finds that youth pastors from large churches make great Sr. Pastors for churches of our size. They don’t have senior pastor leadership experience either. So it’s not mandatory to have experience in the role of Sr. Pastor if one has proven leadership experience in similar roles that can easily be transferred to the Sr. Pastor role. Moreover, many of the duties expected of a Sr. Pastor (preaching, hospital visits, teaching classes, meeting with individual members of the church, etc.) have been regularly a part of Tung’s ministry and contributions to the church over the last 17 years. In short, Tung has proven himself already to be the kind of leader we are looking for. He has also enrolled in seminary at Whitefield Theological Seminary and expects to complete his Master of Ministry in Pastoral Studies sometime over the next 12-18 months.
Q7 - Who is on the Transition Task Force that is helping guide this process?
A: The Transition Task Force will help guide the process by assisting in developing the strategy and planning for the transition. They will also be developing communications for the congregation and will establish objectives and milestones for the process. They will also give Tung and Pastor Jim feedback during the process and be a sounding board for them. Proverbs 15:22 says, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed”.
The members of the task force that were selected have demonstrated leadership skills, having unique insight and perspective in how they serve at LC3. They are of varying age groups and represent most all our major ministries. The members of this Task Force are co-chairs Beckie and Randy Madson, Andi Regenfuss, Carol Wylie, David Pritchard, Heather Lawrence, Jeremiah Durr, Judy Van Houte, Marc Gauthier, Nancy Shaffer, Peter Johnson, Rick Wells and Tom Falk. In addition, we have plans to add 1-2 high school students to the team.
Q8 - What should I do if I have questions not addressed in this FAQ?
A: Please contact any of the Elders or Transition Task Force members who are named above in this FAQ. They would be happy to answer your questions and discuss this process with you.