LEAD PASTOR UPDATE – June 1, 2024

Following a two-month long open recruitment and selection process by the pastoral search firm Slingshot Group that sifted through 109 applications, Rise City Church was presented with the top 5 candidates deemed to most closely match the Board of Elder’s desired expectations for the position

Beginning on April 7th, 2024, the Board, in conjunction with an Ad Hoc Selection Committee made up of pastoral staff and key volunteer leaders, began a month long process of assessments and interviews of each of the 5 individuals, concluding with a decision on April 30 to formally remove two (2) from consideration and conduct further interviews with the remaining three (3) throughout the month of May.

It is the Board’s hope to either find consensus on one of those three remaining candidates or to restart the process with a new group by early-mid June.

Check back here for further updates as they progress in the coming months.

You can hear and learn more about why Rise City is seeking a new Lead Pastor below by watching Brandon’s announcement video and reading through our list of Frequently Asked Questions regarding how Rise City has been moving forward.

Why is the church in search of a new Lead Pastor?

After moving their family to San Diego to launch Rise City Church in 2013, Brandon, his wife Jamie, and their four children are being called back home. They will be returning to Bloomington/Normal, IL where Brandon will become the next Lead Pastor of Eastview Christian Church. Brandon was on staff at Eastview prior to planting Rise City, and ECC was significant in sending him and Jamie to California a decade ago.

Who is responsible for the search and selection of the new Lead Pastor?

The search and selection of a new Lead Pastor for Rise City Church is being conducted as a collaborative effort between the Elder Board and senior-level staff, along with considerable input from the general staff and volunteer ministry leaders. The final decision, however, will be the sole responsibility of the Elder Board.

That being said, while they hold the ultimate responsibility, it’s crucial to understand that the overall approach is being rooted in deep listening and empowering others for the church’s holistic success. The Elder Board will make the final decision but only after a thorough process guided by prayer, collective wisdom, and collaboration.

What is the process for finding a new Lead Pastor?

Our search for the next Lead Pastor of Rise City Church involves 4 Steps:

I. CLARIFY Expectations

The process began by first deciding where we believe the church is heading and what type of person God is calling to take us there, addressing what qualities and expectations we are seeking. This was a vital first step as so much of what makes us Rise City Church is a direct reflection of our founding pastor and his own unique way of leading.

It was thus be incumbent upon the Elder Board, senior-level staff, and others assisting the process to first form a clear picture of the type of person being sought after and what expectations we have for their leadership, vision, and values as a Lead Pastor.

II. CAST a Net

Once we clarified expectations, the second step was to begin searching for potential candidates, both internally and externally, who fit our vision. To assist with this process, Rise City engaged with a Christ-centered search agency, Slingshot Group, to help us seek out qualified candidates. (More on who Slingshot is below.)

Following a comprehensive on-site visit assessing and seeking to understand our current culture and determining what type of candidate would be the best fit, Slingshot promoted the position and took well over one hundred (100) applications from both internal and external candidates.

After a thorough process of interviews, vetting, and personal assessments, they then selected an initial group of 5 potential candidates whom they believed best fit the expressed vision and values of Rise City Church. These candidates were presented to the Board on April 1st, 2024.

III. CONSIDER Candidates

Once Slingshot Group delivered this initial list of candidates they felt best aligned with our search parameters, the following steps began:

  • STAGE 1: Initial Assessment and Interview
    • Our first action was to review each supplied candidate’s profile thoroughly and, since there were no immediate red flags, conduct initial interviews to determine if they were someone we wished to pursue further. This was done as a joint effort between the Elder Board and a special Ad Hoc selection committee made up of pastoral staff and volunteer leaders.
  • STAGE 2: Advanced Interviews
    • Following a month long series of interviews, the initial pool of five (5) candidates was pared down to the three (3) deemed the best overall fit. Each was then invited to participate in an on-site visit and further interviews with key decision makers, along with any other relevant steps the Board deemed appropriate.
    • This stage is currently in progress
  • STAGE 3: Final Stage(s)
    • The candidate the Board remains most highly interested in following these secondary interviews and onsite visits, will be invited for a final interview session and an opportunity to be introduced to the congregation and preach during a Sunday morning service.
    • If none of Slingshot’s suggested candidates are selected, they will restart the process and bring us 4-5 more, repeating the process as long as necessary.

IV. CALL Whom God Has Called

Finally, once the Board has identified and chosen the candidate with whom they believe God is calling us to move forward, they will make a formal offer and move forward together. This decision must, according to Rise City Church’s Policy Governance, be a unanimous decision by the entire Board of Elders.

What is the timeline for finding a new Lead Pastor?

The previously mentioned steps towards hiring a new Lead Pastor are currently active (presently in Stage 2) and will proceed based upon the necessary time required to find, interview, and select the right candidate.

  • It should be noted that while we are not able to give a specific timeline to this process, it will be a multi-month process to find the right person.

Who is Slingshot and why do we feel using them is necessary?

The Slingshot Group is a Christ-centered, church staffing agency made up of current and former pastors and ministry leaders who come along side churches like ours currently engaged in the hiring process to consult, recruit, and fully assess potential candidates. And we felt it prudent to retain their services in this search for a number of reasons.

First, they bring a considerable wealth of valuable insight, experience, and resources to the hiring process, as well as access to a tremendously deep pool of potential candidates and the ability to cast a wide net to promote the position to those who would likely never hear of it otherwise. (This was confirmed when we had 109 total applications come in just 3 months!)

But even more important for our situation, engaging with an external, unbiased ministry like Slingshot also ensures that whoever ends up being selected was first compared to a large pool of candidates and not simply chosen based upon friendships or insider politics.

Lastly, please know that Slingshot Group’s role in this process is NOT to select the next Lead Pastor of Rise City Church, but merely to help us find the right potential candidates who best fit what we are looking for … and then allow us make the decision ourselves. They are merely a resource to aid the process, not the final decision makers.

You can learn more about who they are by visiting their website  www.slingshotgroup.org.

How is the church being led in the interim?

During this transitional phase, our Executive Pastor, Pete Goodman, has been chosen by the Elders to temporarily guide our church community as the Interim Lead Pastor in collaboration with our senior-level staff. He will function with the same general daily duties and responsibilities of the normal Lead Pastor, but seek to avoid making any “major” decisions or alterations to the church’s mission/vision/values, ministry operations, key staff, nor any significant long-term budget expenditures without direct Elder Board involvement and approval.

The Elder Board maintains its spiritual oversight to ensure our church stays committed to its mission and vision and will continue to empower our volunteers to lead our ministries and outreach in the service of kingdom work.

How does this affect our plans for building a new youth space?

At this point in time, the building plans for the new youth wing have been temporarily postponed until more clarity on future leadership can be established.

That being said, Rise City Church has and will continue to believe in and prioritize the next generation, regardless of who serves as Lead Pastor. We continue to see God move in truly incredible ways among our Middle and High School students and are incredibly excited about the future of our student ministry.

We will continue to keep the church updated and informed on this issue as it continues to develop.

How can we be praying for this process and search?

Each person in our congregation has the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to pray and seek God’s favor and direction in choosing our next Lead Pastor. We wholeheartedly believe that He has this entire situation in hand and already knows who our next Lead Pastor is going to be! So please join us by regularly praying for wisdom and discernment as we search and interview to be able to identify and call that individual whom God desires to lead us forward together.

What’s more, if you know of an interested and qualified candidate, please direct them to fill out an application at www.slingshotgroup.org.

How can we ask additional questions?

Your voice matters to us. If you have any further questions or concerns, email them to [email protected] and our Interim Lead Pastor or another member of our staff will respond shortly. Every question is treated with seriousness, logged for transparency, and directed to the appropriate team for an informed response.