Springboard: Recapping our KGF Conversation

At our KGF Conversation on Sunday, February 10, more than 110 people gathered at tables in the Hub between 3-5 pm, and explored “What does it mean to live in into our Mission, Vision and Values as a church?”

As a reminder, they are:

Mission: To know Jesus and make Him known
Vision: To create places of belonging where people discover Jesus and are equipped to follow Him together.
Core Values: Grounded in the Bible, Guided by the Spirit, Growing in prayer

We asked each other where we ourselves live these items out.
We also asked where we’ve seen others at KGF living them out.
Through this, we heard amazing stories of the service and love that generously flows out from this community. It was a beautiful collection of stories, from India to Greenland, from nursing homes to schools, of a community on mission.

And then we asked: what do these stories tell us about our mission, vision and values?

As tables shared from around the Hub, we heard beautiful perspectives. As phrases occurred that had the ring of poetry to them, I wrote down snippets in my notebook. The result was a poem that captured the spirit of what the room was sharing that day. Here it is:

Springboard: A summary poem

We belong.
This is a welcoming home.
The heart of it is
connecting with people.
A community mentality.
Stepping up as a church
to bless others.
Actually serving others.
We live our lives
in service of the community.

More room to grow.
Ready for the spirit
to partner with us.
It was our values that
got us through the storm.
Outward moving,
vertically growing,
Love is the rock.

The passion and the bragging
(about each other’s love and service)
came out of those values.
Knowing Jesus,
making him known,
is catching.
That’s how he gets known
again and again and again.

We have so many servants.
Like a very strong patchwork quilt,
strong, growing, as an
active community.
Not transition, a
springboard into something new.
Spring is coming.

We value hospitality.
Welcoming new people.
A sense of belonging.
Community is the first step.
No-one is on the sidelines.
Each of us are invested.
It happens in community,
not on our own.
It doesn’t become real
until you’re out in
Jump right in.
The welcome is warm,
(thanks to Michelle and Pearl).

Creating safe places
where healing can happen
in non-judgmental ways.
Locally, and the chance
step up globally.
We have people ready
to pour their hearts out.
Where can they sign up?
We sense the holy spirit moving.
A testimony to the
health of the church.

We have roots.
We have wings.
Soaring into what
God is calling us to.
Becoming an
inside-out church.
Sent out into
the world.
Outside the church.
My goodness,
What are you doing?
Look at all the trails of
what we are doing.
No pastor,
no problem.

Once you are fed,
move it into
across the ocean,
and across the street.
People who belong,
creating places to belong.
Once we feed
it only leads
to where it’s not safe.

It’s the start of some new perspectives towards renewing our Mission, Vision and Values — you can read up here about how this fits in to the rest of the picture.

February Transition Update

Hi there everybody — for those who call KGF home,

I wanted to say thank you for your patience with us, as the KGF Board, and with our transition process overall. I recognize that it can feel slow, plodding, and perhaps frustrating. Levi shared that the slips of paper we filled out during a recent Sunday service showed a certain degree of readiness (impatience, perhaps) to move ahead with our next phase. So I want to honour that by helping share a recap of where we’re at, and a look-ahead to what’s next.

The short version
By our AGM (Mar 10), we hope to share our progress towards looking at our Mission, Vision, Values, doing some staff evaluations, creating a new position description, and designing the actual search process.

The long version…

Ron’s first transition update
Ron Toews, our transition pastor, began with us at the end of November. Since this time, he has met one-on-one with more than 60 attendees at our church, and also participated in many groups and gatherings — from Impact nights, to board meetings, to Stephen Ministry conversations, to staff meetings and more. Through his listening and conversation, Ron has captured a summary of his learnings so far. (Here is a link to this report!)

As a reminder, Ron was brought on as a behind-the-scenes support person to help look at questions of vision, structure and relational renewal in our transition. His voice/larynx challenges keep him from doing much public speaking, but as a resource in one-on-one situations, he has been immensely valuable. You can reach him at ron@kgfchurch.com if you’d like to arrange a connection.

Next steps and recommendations
Besides this report, Ron has also identified a few key areas he has encouraged us (the Board) to focus on, to help us move forward:

  1. Renewing our mission, vision and values. Knowing what guides us as church is crucial to making decisions about next steps. In line with this recommendation, this past Sunday we held a “KGF Conversation,” to delve more deeply into our mission, vision and values. The evening was beautiful, and helped us see ourselves in a new light. (You can click here for the “summary poem” from the evening.) What we hope to do is use this night’s information to review our current mission, vision and values, and see if any renewed or updated language is needed going forward. We hope to use the upcoming AGM (Mar 10) to present these shifts if any are being recommended.
  2. Conducting pastoral staff evaluations. A helpful part of the mix in our “what’s next” conversation is to help gain a sense of how our current pastoral leadership is functioning. Ron has agreed to help kickstart an evaluation process, with Levi as the first evaluee; this process is underway.
  3. Create a new position description for future lead pastor role. Being able to publish a new job posting requires a new job description. This will bring together the new perspective we’re gaining from our Mission, Vision and Values, as well as some valuable insight from Ron having delivered his first transition report. It will help clarify the type of leader being looked for — this will be shared with the congregation once it is available.
  4. Design the search process. With an updated Mission, Vision and Values and position description approved, we’ll be able to design a process that delivers the right outcome.

This means that by the upcoming AGM (Mar 10), we’ll be in a spot that will allow us to share progress we’ve made towards renewing our Mission, Vision Values, progress towards an updated position description, and towards having a search process ready to roll.

In the meantime: We have our new worship pastor, Joel Lise, starting work on February 15! Please give him a hearty welcome.

Our staff continue to do an amazing job leading the church through this season of waiting and transition. We’re so thankful for the leadership of Levi Simpson during this time, who has carried a heavy share of this load. We’re also grateful to have Marcus Schmaling back at full-time capacity this month, who will now be able to share some of the preaching as Levi takes a much-needed rest. We invite your prayers, support and encouragement for the staff.

Transition Communication Time

Ron Toews, our Transition Pastor will be in Kelowna full-time Jan 3-16 and will be available to people who wish to connect with him, to follow up on three questions:

  • who are you?
  • how did we (KGF) get to where we are?
  • where do you think we need to go in order to be faithful to Jesus in our next chapter?

Meet with Ron and contribute to the KGF Story.

Reach him by email at ron@kgfchurch.com.

Meet our new Transition Pastor

Hi church family,

After much searching, prayer and discernment, the KGF staff and board are pleased to announce that our new transition pastor has been found.

We’d like to introduce Ron Toews to you. Ron will be assuming a three-quarter time role, starting November 19, supporting our transition process by looking at structure, culture, and vision.

Ron helped create a leadership coaching strategy for the Mennonite Brethren denomination nationally, called L2L (Leader to Learner). He is a trained mediator, and has been Interim Principal of ACTS Seminary in Langley, BC, as well as an Associate Vice President at Trinity Western University. He has served as a transition pastor, most recently with Bakerview Church in Abbotsford.

Ron lives with his wife Dianne on a farm near Aldergrove, and will be spending a mix of weekdays and weekends in Kelowna during his time with us. The initial contract is for 6 months, with the option to renew as needed. Ron rides motorcycle, raises livestock on the pastures surrounding his home, shares a property with the family of one of his adult kids, and loves serving in the church nursery when he can. God gave Ron and Dianne four children, one of whom passed away in a car accident in 2007. The Toews have 10 grandchildren.

Ron was the very first person recommended to us when our transition season began, but was unavailable at the time due to larynx difficulties. A season of looking elsewhere began for us, as a season of healing began for Ron — meanwhile, our church journeyed through some important times of prayer and seeking over these past seven months. Ron’s voice has now returned, at a time when our church finds itself in a place of new perspective, and we have found that the needs we have as a church are well-suited to Ron’s gifting. Ron understands leadership structures, listens well, works collaboratively and brings tremendous compassion and care to his relationships.

Personally (this is Kevan writing), I have found that Ron does an amazing job creating space to listen and hear stories, as I experienced during our first phone call together. Few people are able to create the space to listen as well as Ron is able to, and I’m so excited to invite him into KGF to become part of our team for this season.

After the congregational meeting

Hi church family! Kevan Gilbert here, KGF board chair. Sometimes it’s hard to put these updates together, because inevitably I find myself taking 2-3 hours to write them…after the kids have been put to bed…and the nature of the updates over this season, well, hasn’t been all “good news,” has it?

So I’m going to try something different: this update, I’m going to write quickly, because I want to help unleash the amazing perspectives coming out of our congregation meeting this past Sunday afternoon.

First of all, the turnout was inspiring. The Hub was so full, we were contemplating moving into the sanctuary. During “official” meetings like this, there are some bylaws about how much people need to show up in order for it to be considered a members meeting…we exceeded that number by 20%.

Secondly, I was genuinely amazed and humbled by the interactions and comments during the open mic. I was perhaps a little anxious in advance, not knowing what people might want to say, but what I saw was so refreshing — I was embarrassed for ever having been anxious at all. Our community’s care for each other shone through. We are so present-minded and others-focused. The questions that were asked were all about people caring for people: wanting to make sure Levi was being taken care of, that Marcus and his family were being taken care of, and people wanting to know if our refugee family was being taken care of.

What else?

  • We had some great conversations about attendance numbers, which are down significantly from this time last year.
  • Gilles gave a helpful financial update
  • We talked about progress towards new hires (like the transition role, and worship pastor).
  • We affirmed 2 new nominees for to join the board with an overwhelming “yes”
  • Levi and I asked each other three questions, and then we invited some table conversations on three topics:
    • How has this transition season been for you?
    • What has God been saying to you during this transition?
    • What are you hopeful for?

Galen filmed the event, so once that video is ready, we’ll make it available online so anybody who missed it can catch up. We can post the package of info (finance update, attendance numbers) at the same time.

I just wanted to say that despite this season looking nothing like what I expected when I joined the board in March, I have been consistently amazed at the way God is taking care of us, and the way we are all stepping into the call to take care of each other. Thank you for your love in this season. It’s beautiful. It’s church. The bride of Christ, in all her beauty, choosing authenticity, choosing love.


Kevan Gilbert
Board Chair

Transition updates for September 18

Thank you to the folks that wrote in with questions this week. Let’s jump right in!

Q. Is it maybe time to give up the idea of a transitional Pastor? No one has been found and maybe that should tell us something. Is it time to call a permanent pastor? Marcel has spoken in our church several times now and I am sure that you have been asked the question, why not him? Question, should we be looking at him seriously to become our next Senior Pastor?

Thank you for the note! It’s great to hear our guest speakers’ talent affirmed, as God as indeed led us towards fantastic partners like Marcel in this season.

We do actually have great candidates for transition pastor — we’re very encouraged by what we’re seeing. As our final hurdles clear for the kind of confidential HR stuff (reference checking, interviews, etc), we’re excited to be able to share names. Thank you for your patience!

We believe the Transition Ministry is such a valuable role — a little bit like doing marriage counselling before getting married. It really helps a church to focus on underlying issues, and future possibilities, instead of just continuing forward. We believe it’s important to process our community’s journey that we’ve gone through, and understand what’s next for KGF. While a skilled preacher and a great friend like Marcel offers a lot, the KGF Board is committed to finding somebody specifically for the role of transition. (And that means a talent like Marcel gets to stay in-the-running for leadership options down the road, if he wanted to apply!)

In the the job posting for Transition Pastor, you’ll see 8 key aspects to the role that are beautiful and crucial opportunities for our ministry at KGF:

  1. Ensure closure to the past: asking the hard questions, while providing support and encouragement
  2. Ensure relevant preaching and support strategic, transparent communication to staff, congregation and beyond
  3. Ensure effective short-term administration
  4. Ensure pastoral care of the staff and supporting them in pastoral care of the congregation
  5. Facilitate spiritual and relational renewal as needed; working with key board and Lead Team members to gather staff, board and key congregation in times of retreat to discern items 5-7.
  6. Facilitate mission and vision renewal as per assessment results and further discernment
  7. Facilitate structural renewal as per assessment results and further discernment
  8. Facilitate the search process based on finalized structure and Lead Pastor attributes identified through processes above

As a board, we believe it’s valuable and important to work hard to find a suitable transition pastor to accomplish those aims, and that skipping over them would be unhealthy. We also see that God has been at work opening doors and building connections with possible transition pastor candidates, which we are excited to share soon. And as you say — if it turns out that doors are closing, and it appears that instead it is time to call a permanent pastor, I pray we would be able to sense that opportunity too.

Q. We wish we could see what’s happening behind the scenes! I wish you could be more open to who you are considering for worship pastor and transition pastor. Why can’t it be announced who is being considered for each role? Is there a reason?

We’re sorry you’re feeling that way! We absolutely want to be transparent — it is a value the KGF Board has been working hard to follow, with this transition website and our attempts to keep up a regular flow of communication.

As for sharing names, we hear you. For a church driven by members, yes, we all need to know! We agree. The tricky thing is, this is also about people’s employment situations. So we want to be respectful of applicant’s privacy. Let’s say Jane Doe is being considered for a position, and we share their name — only to later discover their references didn’t check out. That becomes rather humiliating for the applicant! Or perhaps we share that we’re considering a candidate, but they have not yet informed their current employer that they are considering other job opportunities — that gets messy. So we’re committed to sharing names once the due diligence has been done behind the scenes, and strong candidates emerge that have been vetted, to avoid breaching applicants privacy.

Transition Update for September 1

Hi there, church family.

This update will be brief this week: obviously, the biggest developments have been the health challenges of our staff. Pastor Levi’s experience with breathing difficulties, and the early arrival of baby Maisie Schmaling for Beth and Pastor Marcus. We encourage you to continue to pray. Not only are those stories dramatic — it also means that our healthy staff, including interim pastor Garth Walker, remain quite stretched in this remarkable season.

These events last week prompted us to call our community into a day of fasting and prayer. Thank you to all who participated and responded.

We are very encouraged in our search for a transition pastor. While it’s not time to share names yet, please know that the interviews, reference checks and related conversations are very promising. We would love your prayers as we discern the right choice, in bringing somebody in who can connect well with our congregation and staff, and bring the healthy vision and energy our community needs for this season. More crucially, that our transitional leader would bring a sensitivity and reliance on God’s leading during this remarkable time.

(We’ve received no new correspondence in our transition inbox this week, so there are no “replies” to add today: but feel free to send us a note to transition@kgfchurch.com, and we’ll post the answer here!)

May you continue to care deeply for those in your life whom God has placed you alongside. Please know that He is building his church, and our call is to serve with love those around us.

Levi leads the kids through a captivating story on a Sunday morning

Your Transition Update for the Week of August 1, 2018

This week’s “transition round-up” gets into some details on the search for a transition pastor, as well as the hunt for a new worship pastor. We get into some question about how the staff are doing, and explore a question that a member asked us about “co-leadership.” It continues to be a season where the Spirit is moving, not just through “transition-related” events, but through all of our lives. Your prayers, and your willingness to listen, continue to make a profound difference.

How is the search going for a Transition Pastor?
From working through a list of 11 names provided by our network, the KGF Board has identified three individuals who would possibly be good fits for the Transition Pastor role at KGF, and will be proceeding into interviews. Check out the job posting on our website (it’s still open during interviews), and keep praying that we will find the right person!

What is the timeline for landing a transition pastor?
Between the three we’re currently talking with, the earliest would be mid-September, and the latest by late November.

How is our current staff doing?
A longer transition time can add a burden to our amazing staff and pastoral leadership, so the KGF Board continues to work with Levi to provide real support.

  • The new staff additions have helped considerably: Garth Walker, Michelle Freedman, Marissa Burns — plus the continued contributions from our volunteers, in worship, kids min and beyond. (Thank you!)
  • We are in conversation with a couple of our favourite guest preachers, who are kindly making themselves available to share the preaching load.
  • Our biggest gap at the moment is in Tech Ministries: director Galen Bond is actively looking for more sound tech support on Sunday, to assist with livestream (so if you’re into sound or tech, Galen would love to chat!)

Can you tell me more about those staff changes that have helped out?

  • Bringing Garth Walker onto our staff team as an Interim Adult Ministries Pastor has helped share the load.
  • Adding Michelle Freedman’s powers of administration has been a huge bonus.
  • Also, Marissa Burns hours in Kids Ministry have recently increased to allow her fantastic contribution to continue to shine.
  • Our gifted worship teams, aided by the support of Mark Tromsness, and David Barbour’s leadership, continue to work hard to bring music alive on Sundays (thank you to all who play a role here!).
  • Volunteers and “lay leaders” galore continue to provide a massive force of generosity and support

What about the search for new worship leadership?
2 candidates are rising above the rest, as the Worship Pastor Discernment Team does its work. There will be intentional congregational involvement when the team and Board have a recommendation, which will be soon — stay tuned!

Can you give a little more background on this worship leadership search? 

  • In May, the KGF Board approved a new job description for a Worship Pastor, which is a deliberate a change from KGF’s previous “Worship Director” role.
  • In June, a Worship Pastor Discernment team was approved by the KGF Board, who immediately got to work reviewing, discerning and interviewing the candidates.
  • The team has now identified 2 leading candidates who show potential for KGF, and will be proceeding into the steps of making their recommendation.
  • Since all Pastoral staff hires at KGF (except those that are interim or transition related) need to be approved by KGF’s members, you can look forward to more involvement as this process continues. The Board will receive the Discernment Team’s recommendation in August, and proceed to congregational involvement in the decision after that.

Remind me, what is a “Transition Pastor,” and why are we looking for one?
A Transition Pastor is a role designed to help churches bridge a leadership gap. It’s a role that helps look at the organization’s structure (how staff work together), the past and future (where we’ve been, we’re headed), and help plan the search for a permanent lead pastor. It’s a specific skillset, and a healthy and recommended step for churches like ours. Rather than jumping the gun to simply find a “new lead pastor,” a Transition Pastor helps us spot your key opportunities and issues, and facilitates healthy listening and discernment for what’s next.

We also had a great question emailed to us, where the writer states:
My “vote” would be to promote both Pastor Marcus and Pastor Levi to Co-Pastors or Associate Pastors. (Not to call another outside Pastor for KGF). 

A. What a fabulous affirmation of our existing leadership. We continue to be so impressed with how our pastors are handling this transition time, and each week, we hear new encouragement from the members and congregation who are appreciating Levi and Marcus’s leadership. (So, thank you!).

  • Co-leading has huge potential: One of the great ideas in this question is the thought about co-leading:  It’s more sustainable and collaborative to build a true team, rather than just putting the load on one person alone. The idea of building a lead team, not just adding a “lead pastor,” is definitely part of the conversation as we explore what’s next for KGF.
  • Beware the “sacrificial lamb” problem: The wisdom lent to us from other churches and leaders in this space tells us that often, the first person to assume the leadership post after a long-standing pastor, ends up not lasting very long (6-9 months, on average). Some people call this replacement leader the “sacrificial lamb.” And if we love Levi and Marcus, do we want to sacrifice them? (Not so much!) So it’s an option on the table  — of course, taking into account their own desired career journeys, and KGF’s needs as well — and a decision to not take lightly.
  • Your idea highlights the value of a Transition Pastor: This is why a Transition Pastor is such a healthy move. They assume that 6-9 month temporary position, on purpose. They explore the culture and identify the opportunity. And from their recommendation, they help us see the opportunity for the evolution of our leadership team — which may come from outside, but as you point out, doesn’t have to.

Thank you all for your continued prayers and support during this time! You can email your questions anytime to transition@kgfchurch.com.

One last note: As we all know, “church” isn’t a Sunday production, it’s a gathering of believers who live life in authentic community, showing Christ’s live everywhere we live and work and play. What we call KGF is truly its members, spread out all around Kelowna and beyond all week long. We invite you to keep listening and praying for how God wants to use your unique talents and situation to be part of his amazing work, far beyond these walls. (And remember: you are loved!)

July 5 Transition Update

This week’s update starts with a great question from a member of our church: “As a church, have we not already transitioned? Why not communally address this new chapter of ‘being’ KGF?”

Yes! That’s a beautiful perspective. We love that spirit: God invites us to evolve, adapt, iterate, and find new ways to apply our faith to the world around us. And now, more than ever, we are invited into that active participation. Our church is part of the “movement of aliveness” that is God’s global church, always in transition, always on the move. We get to ask ourselves what it means to “be” the church, no matter who is leading us. Thank you for that reframe! Transition isn’t temporary, it’s not about leadership alone — transition is a way of being the church.

Our latest updates:

  • 100 days of prayer: We are launching a season of intentional prayer to help us seek God’s will for KGF during our season of changes. In triads (groups of three), we are inviting these mini-groups to meet, chat and pray 10 times over the next 100 days. More info in our bulletins!
  • On Tuesday, June 26, we benefitted from having Dave Jackson walk our congregation through the results of our church assessment. With over 163 participants, the survey data was rich and interesting. Dave provided a handout which contained a condensed summary of some of the key points. (It was also Dave’s encouragement to launch the prayer triads, as part of our pursuit of God’s direction for us!)
  • You can welcome three new interim staff members to the KGF team! These wonderful individuals join the staff on a temporary basis to relieve some of the current workload, and provide leadership for the way forward. You can read all about them via this post here.