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.

Sincerely,

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.

Transition Update with Kevin and Levi

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.

Church Assessment: We need your perspective!

We are inviting our entire church family to participate in a church assessment. This is a tool to help us clarify where we are on our journey, and how to proceed in our time of pastoral transition.

The assessment has five sections and takes 25 minutes to complete.  Your participation will be a gift to our church and help our leaders discern how we join with God in making the most of our time of transition.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/KGFellowship 

Our Assessment will be open until June 11. If you aren’t online, pick up a paper copy of the assessment and return it to our office no later than June 11.

(You may find some of the questions challenging to answer, but do not worry — unanswered questions are as valuable as answered questions!)

Meet Our Facilitator 

Dave Jackson / Titus Connection

The board has invited Dave Jackson of Titus Connection to help facilitate  our assessment, and debrief it with our leadership and congregation. Titus Connection is a ministry that resources leaders and churches enabling them listen to God and discern their next steps toward missional clarity and effectiveness, and this online assessment tool has been created by them to help facilitate processes like ours.

For the past forty years Dave Jackson has served the Canadian Church by developing leaders and resourcing churches.   His mandate has been to assist leaders and churches in clarifying their call and direction by listening to God. He longs to see healthy, safe, churches marked by love, mercy and truth where “lost” people find hope in Jesus and “found” people discover their place in the larger story of His “wild” love.

Dave has served for 10 years in denominational ministry, 25 years as a local church pastor and for eight years with Church Resource Ministries, an international ministry of leadership development and church renewal.  He has worked with many pastors/leaders and over two hundred churches of various denominations. He and his wife Kathy have four grown children and five grandchildren.  They reside in Chilliwack BC.

 

Questions and answers, May 15

We’ve been receiving helpful input from congregation members, and wanted to say thank you for your care and consideration. If you’ve got questions, comments or good-news stories, feel free to email transition@kgfchurch.com

This week, we learned of Sue Gagnon’s decision to be moving on from her role at KGF. Her absence will certainly be felt! She is a beloved leader, whose heart for kids and families has helped transform KGF. We are inspired by her choice to spend time with her own family, and are so pleased we will still benefit from her support and care for our own “big family” in a volunteer capacity in the new school year!

If the current season seems overwhelming, recall how Marcus reminded us on Sunday through the words of Hudson Taylor: “God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.”

This week, here are a few of the notes we received, and some responses to them.

1. One theme was around “positive reactions” to the way the transition and communication is being run. Sample comments include these:

  • “Thank you for establishing the web site and hopefully keeping everyone informed as we move ahead.”
  • “Well done to Kevan and the rest of the Board for taking a communicative, transparent stance through the transition. Like I tell my kids often… “communicate, communicate, communicate.”
  • “Heart of unity- absolutely! Great transparency and leadership by our board.”

Our response is simply, “thank you!” We know KGF is all of us — it’s not the staff, not the board, it’s every person who chooses to call this community home. We all have a vision for a Kelowna that Christ is transforming, and we all have a role to play. Thanks for your encouragement and work alongside us.

 

2. Another theme was confusion. Some folks had questions about why the board would choose to wade into addressing rumours. An example quote: “We are to give love, respect, grace etc. to all within our church even our leaders and pastors. Let’s not get bogged down in negativity and entertaining it.”

We totally agree! We have the opportunity to move forward, not look back. Yet, caring for our people is part of our world, too, and we were observing that some folks in our church were having a hard time getting back to a positive space after hearing some distorted perspectives. We want to invite unity and model openness, especially for those who had slipped into a more negative and anxious mindset.

So for anybody who might be feeling anxious, frustrated or unsure about this season, we encourage you that you’re not alone. If you find yourself experiencing more-than-usual uncertainty or emotion about an issue, feel free to request a phone call or in-person meeting to talk through anything, or even to just ask for prayer. We’re a church, after all — we’re here to help each other, as a direct response to our call to follow Jesus. Let’s take care of each other during this time.

 

3. “Is the board considering a structure whereby the lead pastor exercises gifts of preaching, evangelism and another pastor whose gifts lie more in the area of management is responsible for all human resource and infrastructure matters?”

Yes, all organization structure ideas would be on the table as we seek new leadership. In fact, the move towards our current Executive Team model was a step in that direction. Part of our work in finding a new team member will involve assessing the church’s strengths and needs alongside the newcomer’s own gifts and needs, to create a structure that works.

 

4. “Could we handle the transition using the church’s existing resources and staff, instead of hiring a transition pastor?”

It is possible — we do have an amazing team at KGF! One of the first steps in the transition path will be conducting a “church assessment,” to get a better sense of where our  needs, strengths and weaknesses lie. This will help us get a better sense of what we’d need in a transition pastor, and how any new hires will complement the talent and expertise of our existing, amazing staff.