A message from Steve Nicholson:

The church council has decided to hire Ted Kim as our senior Associate Pastor starting next June. Approximately a year after that the council will make another decision about whether to recommend Ted to the church to be our next senior pastor. If they do, then the members of the church will be able to vote yes or no based on actually getting to know him over a year’s time.

Over the past five years we’ve been reading and researching as much as we can about successful church transitions. We came away with two key ideas. First, it’s best to have an overlap. We are planning a three year overlap. So, yes I’m retiring, but not for four years. We want to have a situation where the transition is gradual. Second, it’s important not to change your key values when a new senior pastor comes in. That led us to come up with a list of criteria – what we were looking for in a potential senior pastor:

1. Is in the Vineyard movement and thoroughly committed to the Vineyard movement
2. Has at least 8 years of experience in top level leadership
3. Has the ability to think and lead strategically, theologically, and practically
4. Is able to put in at least 20 years into building the church into the next generation
5. Is a person of color or has experience with cultural and racial diversity
6. Has a commitment to the historical values of Evanston Vineyard
7. Has clear signs that God is supernaturally calling them to lead this church

This list is not a wish list in the order of importance, as if the things at the bottom are expendable. This entire list is essentially non-negotiable. From the beginning we were committed to having someone clearly meeting all seven criteria. Ted meets those criteria. Our church council found that he more than met our criteria, and feel excited about working with him, as does all of our pastoral team.

I’ve known Ted since he was an intern with us back in the 1990s. We’ve stayed in touch over the years. About five years ago we both happened to be on the same ministry visit to a church in Africa with some major problems. As we talked with the pastor their and tried to help him I found myself very impressed with the way that Ted was thinking and speaking, and I thought then: maybe Ted would be a good fit to be my successor one day.

For the past seven years or so he’s been a worship pastor at a Vineyard church in Syracuse New York. But I knew that he was also being treated as a kind of senior associate by the lead pastor there because of his strategic thinking ability.

So in the lead up to this time I’ve had in my mind that I knew for certain two people in the Vineyard movement who would meet all our criteria for my successor. My intention was to ask both of them to apply this summer and see what happened. At the same time, I have been praying that God would work all of this out in such a way that it would have a very clear element of God supernaturally calling and orchestrating this transition. I didn’t want to have just a process of using human wisdom to find someone who fit our criteria. That would be a part of it, but I wanted something more, something with God in it. That’s how every significant change in our church has happened – through the intervention of God in very clear ways.

Then last December I got an unexpected call from Ted. And for about 45 minutes he began to lay out several out-of-the-blue, supernatural things that happened to him to say that he should be getting ready to lead a church as senior pastor and that it had something to do with Evanston Vineyard. He concluded by saying, is there any way we can come out and work with you?

My firm belief is that Ted Kim is not only the right man for us at this time in all the important ways of values and abilities, but I also believe that God has chosen him for this. Both Bill and I feel very, very good about handing over to him our life’s work in full expectation that he will build on it and into the future for the next generation.

The Bible says that Jesus is the head of the church, and as the head of the church he gives leaders to serve the church and help it to become all it’s meant to be. This is how that works out in real life.

Of course Ted won’t be exactly like me. I think he’ll be a lot more fun. I think you’ll like him a lot. But he’ll also hold all the values that have been important to us as a church at the same time.

You’ll have a year to get to know him better, and I’m confident that during that year you’ll see the hand of God at work in him and through him.

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