September 10, 2014

An Announcement from the Pulpit Committee

An essay by Matt McManus

Dear New Life family, It is with great excitement that the Pulpit Committee would like to share with you the culmination of our long work. It is our recommendation to you, the congregation, as well as the Session, that Mark Moser be considered for lead pastor of New Life Presbyterian Church. Before the congregation can vote for and extend a call to Mark, he will need to complete a number of steps that we believe will prepare him for this role. The purpose of this letter is to provide you with as thorough a foundation of information as possible as you prayerfully consider the future of our church. It includes (1) our thoughts on why we have chosen Mark, (2) what steps he will need to take in order to be called as lead pastor by the congregation, (3) how we got to the point of considering him, and finally (4) the responsibilities of the congregation in the weeks to come.

The Moser family

Why we have chosen Mark

Hopefully, Mark Moser is a familiar name to you. Mark and his wife Lise are committed members and along with their four children have been at New Life for over ten years. Not only does he know our story as a church, but he has participated in it. He and Lise understand our vision, know our people and care deeply about the church’s future. Many of you may have had the opportunity to attend Mark’s AdultEd classes, during which you have observed one of Mark’s strongest gifts: teaching. He is a clear and thoughtful communicator. Tightly coupled with Mark’s ability to teach is his reverence for Scripture and pursuit of holiness. We have seen Mark demonstrate humility and a natural tendency to seek counsel and heed wisdom. Above all, Mark is a man of integrity.

For more information on Mark and his background, please read Mark’s Bio and Testimony and a history of his ministry experience.

“The Plan”

We recognize that, despite his clear giftings and experience, Mark is not yet credentialed in the PCA to be able to accept a call for lead pastor. Because of this, Steve Smallman and the Session have created a plan that will shepherd him to that point. The goal of our plan is for the congregation to call Mark Moser as its lead pastor during the first six months of 2016. The plan relies upon the commitment of Steve Smallman to continue as interim lead pastor until the call to Mark is carried out at this time (no later than June 2016). In the time until then, Mark will pursue licensure, pastoral internship and ordination exams in the Presbyterian Church of America as well as the hopeful completion of his dissertation for a doctorate in Apologetics. While he does this, he will assume increasing responsibility in the leadership of our church while being counseled by Steve Smallman. Here is a detailed breakdown of the plan.

How we got here

The story of how we got here is an important one to tell. Even during the first weeks the committee was together, Steve Smallman approached Mark about whether he would ever consider the position. Also, some committee members were already considering him as a possible choice.  He told Steve “no” because of his position as chair of the committee and because he thought that his level of experience didn’t fit the bill. Fast forward 18 months and Steve came back to Mark and again asked whether he would consider the position, this time with a commitment from Steve to stay on as interim pastor, mentoring Mark through the areas where he is inexperienced. Mark agreed to pursue this idea with the strict condition that Steve remain onboard to mentor him. At that point, Mark stepped down from all committee work, Dave Ennis was activated from being an alternate and Matt McManus was elected chair.

At this point we halted the process on other candidates, and proceeded to evaluate Mark to the fullest extent possible. We followed the same path we took for every previous candidate. This included multiple interviews, communication with references, evaluating our 18 months with him as the chair of our committee, and much deliberation and prayer in meetings, emails and conversations. After three months of work, we agreed that the Lord was leading us down this path. It is our hope and prayer that through careful mentoring by Steve, shepherding by the session and the active support of this congregation, the Spirit will lead Mark and our church forward in His will.

We understand that it would have been easier for the Pulpit Committee to have recommended to you a candidate who is immediately eligible for the role of our next lead pastor. Please know that during the past 21 months we have considered many candidates. We listened to hundreds of sermons from over 30 individuals. Of those 30, we engaged in a full interview process with 9 men, each requiring 2-3 months of diligence and prayer. For many different reasons, but not for lack of love and respect for New Life, some of the men chose not to pursue the position any further, and for some we chose not to pursue them any further despite their desire to join us. Though Mark is not an ‘easy next step’, the Committee believes that the Lord has led us to this point. It was no small matter to us that while we spent 2-3 months on each possible candidate, we had been observing Mark’s leadership and character as he chaired the Committee for our first 18 months. We encourage you to join us in eager anticipation of God’s plans both for New Life and for Mark Moser.

What is next?

You might be asking what this means practically for our church. Though the church may not extend a formal call to Mark until 2016, this plan cannot go forward without the full support of the congregation. To that end, the congregation will be asked to vote on whether the church should move forward with this. Before the vote is called, there will be time for you to reach out to members of the pulpit committee, the session and Mark and Lise. We understand that this process will take some time to fully understand and we want to make sure you have opportunities to ask questions, to listen to others and to grow in excitement for where the Lord is leading us. Below are dates and details:

  • This Sunday, September 14th at 4pm – Our first of two congregational discussions with the Pulpit Committee. The committee will do its best to answer questions and share its vision. Don’t worry, there isn’t an Eagles game that day.
  • The week of September 28th – Mark, Lise and various members of the Pulpit Committee will be visiting Community Groups. Here will be a great opportunity for you to learn about Mark’s vision for the church in a smaller, more intimate setting. We still need to square away when and where. There should be an announcement about that soon.
  • Sunday, October 5th at 4pm – Another congregation discussion with the Pulpit Committee. After three weeks of consideration, we want to make sure there is another chance for the church to come together and discuss.
  • Sunday evening, October 12 at 4pm the Session is calling for a congregational meeting and will present this motion for consideration and adoption:
    “We support the recommendation of the Pulpit Committee and the plan of our Session to work with Mark Moser to the end that he become the lead pastor of New Life Presbyterian Church. We understand that it is still the responsibility of the congregation to cast the final vote for or against his candidacy once the appropriate time has come as outlined by the plan.”

In the coming days, our website (www.newlifeglenside.com) and the Journal (journal.newlifeglenside.com) will have biographical information about Mark and a summary of his educational and ministry experience. Updates will be announced on sundays and the email newsletter (signup here: bit.ly/newlifenews). Of course you are welcome to speak to Mark and Lise personally, to email the pulpit committee directly at nlgpulpitcommittee@googlegroups.com or its chair, Matt Mcmanus at matt@mcmanus.io. Note that Mark has been scheduled for some time to teach the Adult Ed. class during the 9:00 hour. His class this time is “The Making of the Bible”.

We have done our best to lay out as many details as possible in this letter and have thought through many other details not presented. We expect and desire to hear from you over the next month. Please now commit yourself to prayer and understanding!

Matt McManus, for the Search Committee