PASSING THE BATON
On the weekend of October 2, we announced that we have begun the process of Pastor Gary's succession.
Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about the process.
When did the succession process begin for Gary’s role (Lead Pastor)?
Gary and Belinda felt led to approach our Chairperson for the Board of Elders, Joanna Randall, in July of 2015 to share that they were feeling led of God to initiate succession planning.
Usually succession planning is a process that stretches over a couple of year’s time. The private phase began last fall by prayerfully seeking counsel from God for guidance throughout succession and creating a timeline. The timeline is a guide, which can be accelerated or slowed, depending on when we believe we’ve identified the right next Lead Pastor
Who is leading the succession?
Gary and Belinda initiated the process with the Elders and asked the Elders to lead through the process in partnership together. There was no one event, nor discouragement, nor influence from anyone but the Holy Spirit to begin the process. They felt the witness of the Spirit that this is the time to begin succession planning.
We have secured the counsel of Dr. Greg Wiens, founder of Healthy Growing Churches. Dr. Wiens has been consulting with Indian Creek for the last 5 years and has assisted many churches in working through succession. For more information on who Dr. Wiens is, please click here.
What are the Elders looking for in a new Lead Pastor?
- Have the capacity to lead the church to grow and to equip disciples to reproduce disciple-making.
- Experience in leading staff, leaders and volunteers, to create a team culture (have high emotional intelligence).
- Communicates effectively to the body as a preacher and teacher.
- Out-going and trustworthy.
- Have a maturity and security in who they are in God’s kingdom.
What is the process for bringing in a candidate?
The bylaws of Indian Creek clearly spells out the process for choosing a new Lead Pastor. The Elders started with a wide funnel for candidates. They employed Church of God leaders and a consultant in Greg Wiens who leads Healthy Growing Churches. Greg has helped over 300 churches in transitions similar to Indian Creek.
The Elders fasted and prayed for God’s wisdom and direction. They formed a desired profile intended to both build on the best of what Indian Creek and one that would take us forward. We desire to be a healthy and growing church that leads people to experience new life in Jesus (our mission).
The Elders followed up on candidates who were given to us, and those who volunteered. They contacted candidates who were recommended. They called for references and had many qualifying conversations. They listened and watched many messages. They used paper interviews to narrow the field. Then went to Zoom (electronic interviews) and finally to in-person interviews to get to one candidate - Jake Zaske (click on the link to learn more).
The congregation will meet the candidate and family on the weekend of April 30, and partners will have the privilege of voting for or against. If the candidate receives a 75% affirmative vote, a call is extended. If the vote is less, the Elders will continue the process until a new Lead Pastor is selected.
What is Gary and Belinda’s plan after the transition?
We don’t know yet because their focus is still on leading the Creek through this important next step. They feel called to stay in the greater Kansas City area and work to build on the ministry they’ve established outside of Indian Creek. Both Gary and Belinda have been active in ministry nationally and internationally. They look forward to the opportunity to serve the big “C” church in a greater way. It is their plan to give the new pastor time to bond with the church by giving appropriate space for both the congregation and the new Lead Pastor. After that, the new Pastor and the Kendalls will see how God is leading. The Elders and the Kendalls have open minds and hearts for a future together.
Will this change Indian Creek?
One of the most important concerns for the Board of Elders, is to maintain the calling that is on Indian Creek to lead people to experience real life in Jesus. We are a missional church that is dedicated to making disciples who make disciples. We are recruiting a new Lead Pastor to the vision God’s given us as a church. The new Pastor will, no doubt, have their unique gift set and calling. We want to build on that in forming our future vision together, however, we do not, foresee changing our mission and values.
Will we continue to be Church of God?
We are a Church of God congregation. This was the desire of the founders and continues to be the desire of the Elders and staff. There is no consideration being given to leaving the Church of God. The next Lead Pastor is recruited knowing this is the plan. One of the qualifications of the desired Lead Pastor candidate is to be a part of the Church of God. If he/she does not come from a Church of God background, they will become a part of the Church of God.
The Church of God is a non-denominational movement. A person joins the Church of God when they choose Jesus as their Savior and Leader. There is no formal membership. To read more on the Church of God click here.
Ministers moving to the Church of God go through an ordination process that begins upon application. If the minister applying is in good standing, they are granted a license for ministry in the Church of God. He/she is officially a minister in the Church of God then. Over the course of the next year, they receive coaching and training from experienced pastors (Pastor Kendall is one of the trainers). If things go well, as expected, the minister is ordained into the Church of God in one year.
Why are we choosing a non-church of God Pastor and from a reformed background?
Over the past twenty years, Jake has served in pastoral roles in a number of church traditions ranging from charismatic to a more traditional reformed worldview. This wide range of exposure and experience has provided him with the unique opportunity to wrestle through theological and ideological questions about who God is and how we relate to Him. It has been his desire to align himself within a movement that accurately reflects his theological understanding. Ten years ago Jake was introduced to the Church of God through pastoral relationships like Pastor Gary Kendall at Indian Creek.
Through the years the Zaskes have discovered that they align with the primary distinctives of the Church of God. This has led them to confidently lean into leadership of a Church of God church and seek ordination. Furthermore, Pastor Gary and the Elders have thoroughly vetted Jake to ensure that his theological beliefs align with the vision and mission of both the Church of God and Indian Creek Community Church.
What is his cross-cultural experience?
God has been gracious to provide Jake with a number of cross-cultural experiences that he believes has uniquely prepared him to lead Indian Creek. Jake and Sarah both grew up in the Midwest where the majority of their family still resides. Toward the end of Jake's ministerial training in Illinois, God began to give him a vision for the rest of the world. That call took him to Northern England where he ministered to teens in local housing estates (public housing), served Iraqi, Iranian, and African asylum seekers through a refugee ministry, as well as pastored English people from various socioeconomic backgrounds. Upon returning to the United States, they moved to Southern California where Jake served as the Associate Pastor of a new church that rapidly grew in size. The congregational makeup in California consisted mainly of Caucasian and Latino ethnicities.
For the past nine years Jake and Sarah have been in New York City as lead church planter/pastors. Their congregation is located in Queens, NYC. Queens is a borough known as one of the most diverse communities on the planet. There are over 200 languages spoken in this community of 2.4 million people. The church they have led has over 30 nationalities represented from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds, and would be considered part of the 7% of Christian churches in the US defined as multi-ethnic. Additionally, they have traveled to nearly 20 countries and love exploring and celebrating new cultures.
These experiences have led Jake to understand and thrive in the complexity of multi-cultural and multi-ethnic ministry. The Zaske family has been blessed to minister in many unique contexts. They now sense God's call back to the Midwest where they eagerly anticipate rooting themselves in the community.
Do you have more questions?
Feel free to send us a message. We'll get back with you as soon as we can.