Pastoral Transition

On Sunday, May 5, 2024 members of our LifeSpring congregation voted to call Pastor Tom Dierenfeld to be our next Lead Pastor!

Pastoral Transition Plan 2024-2025


Summer 2024

  • Pastor Tom is on sabbatical May 27th - August 19th
  • Part-time Interim Youth Associate (Scott Firestone) begins June 3rd

 

Fall 2024

  • Pastor Tom returns from sabbatical as Lead Pastor on August 19th,  overseeing youth approximately 50% time and Lead Pastor duties 50% time with Part-time Youth Associate and administrative staff assistance
  • Scott moves to 50% time on September 1st  preaching 1x/ month, helping with pastoral care, administration, staff support and working on transitioning responsibilities to Tom and staff
  • Leadership Team discerns role for next Youth Pastor/ Director
  • Recognition and celebration of Pastor Tom as Lead Pastor by our church and denominational leaders

 

January 2025

  • The current plan is for the Leadership Team to assemble a Search Team to find someone to oversee the youth ministry with hopes of hiring someone by early summer of 2025.

 

Summer 2025

  • The current plan is that Pastor Scott will move fully off church staff once Youth Pastor/ Director position is filled or by September 1st, 2025 whichever comes first.
  • Pastor Tom will assume 100% Lead Pastor responsibilities once youth position is filled or by September 1st, 2025 whichever comes first.

How the process began:

Candidate Letter to the Congregation

Search Process Timeline

In the fall of 2023, Pastor Scott announced that he was accepting God's invitation to step away from the role of lead pastor. We are so thankful for, and have been so blessed by, Scott's faithful leadership and care for this church for the past 25 years.

 

Following this announcement, the Leadership Team commissioned a Pastoral Search Team.

 

Pastoral Search Team Commission:

 

The Leadership Team has commissioned the Pastoral Search Team (PST) to, through wise discernment and prayer, present one candidate to our congregation to be considered as the next Lead Pastor of LifeSpring.

 

1. The Leadership Team requests the PST to listen to the congregation’s hopes, dreams, and concerns for the church and for the next Lead Pastor through listening meetings and/or surveys.

 

2. Next, the Leadership Team requests the PST to first consider any internal candidates from our current staff. This would involve formal discussion and interviews with any current staff who are interested in the role. If the PST discerns an internal candidate is a wise and good fit for the Lead Pastor role based on the input of the congregation, current staff, and Leadership Team, they will present this candidate to the church to be considered for the Lead Pastor role.
 

3. If the PST discerns that there are no internal candidates who are the right fit for the position, they will open the search to external candidates following established guidelines.


Per the process, the Pastoral Search Team and the Leadership team now eagerly present this letter of candidacy to the people of LifeSpring Covenant Church:

 

March 31, 2024

Dear LifeSpring Family,


Candidate for Lead Pastor
After much prayer, meetings, and discussion as a group, the Pastoral Search Team is delighted to unanimously recommend Pastor Tom Dierenfeld for consideration by the congregation for the next lead pastor of LifeSpring Covenant Church. The pastoral staff, references, and leadership team are also strongly aligned to recommend his candidacy.


Our Process
Our mandate from the leadership team was to listen to the congregational concerns and desires for the next lead pastor. Next, to prayerfully meet and first discern if there was an internal candidate that would meet the criteria prior to advancing to consideration of candidates outside of the church.


Top Characteristics our community desires
As a first step, we hosted 4 listening sessions with the congregation. Additionally, we asked the congregation to complete a survey online and reviewed the results to assess common themes. Thank you to those of you who took the time to meet and/or respond to the survey! It was wonderful to hear so many of you express your love for LifeSpring, the staff, and ministries of the church.
The following lists illustrate key themes from our listening sessions and the online survey:


          Top 5 Cultural Values the congregation would like to see continued:

             - Community outreach/ mission focused/ Justice & Mercy/ love in action

             - Love/ community care for each other/ relational church
             - Openness and friendliness/ family and welcoming atmosphere
             - Humility/ servant heart
             - Powerful sermons/ solid teaching


          Top 5 Characteristics of the Lead Pastor the congregation would like to see:
             - Bible knowledge/ Bible based sermons/ adhere to our Christian doctrine and core values/ preaching & teaching skills
             - Welcoming to new people/ kind/ gentle/ shepherd/ relational/ compassionate
             - Team and servant leadership/ delegate to others easily
             - Humility
             - Love for the Lord/ relationship with God/ cultural discernment/ know your culture


Staff Input
Following the listening meetings, we met with the ministry staff. We then met individually with both Pastor Elyse and Pastor Scott, who both expressed confidence in Tom’s character, faith, and leadership and strongly endorse his candidacy for the Lead Pastor position.


Reference Checks
We also completed 5 reference checks in which each person gave stellar reviews of Pastor Tom and fully supported his transition to lead pastor.

 

Extensive Interviews
Finally, our team conducted two extensive interviews with Pastor Tom. We were impressed with his passion for the mission of God through LifeSpring, especially our presence in the community and commitment to our neighborhood. Pastor Tom repeatedly articulated his love for LifeSpring and his alignment with our culture and values. He is ready and eager to shepherd LifeSpring in this next season, should the congregation approve Tom as the new Lead Pastor.


Prayerful Discernment
We believe Pastor Tom embodies many of the characteristics desired for the Lead Pastor of our church.

 

Several strengths that stood out to us were his desire and gift for preaching and his knowledge and love for God’s word. He spoke clearly of his vision for continuing to pursue emotionally healthy spirituality as foundational for continued growth in Christ-likeness, both individually and corporately.


We were impressed by his assessment of the current needs of the younger generation and the challenges they face to engage in church/ religion. He expressed a desire to sustain LifeSpring’s current culture and ministries and an openness to other areas where God might lead us to flourish.


We found Pastor Tom to be reflective and humble about what aspects of the lead pastor job may be challenging for him, and passionate about how that role will stretch him to grow in his spiritual and vocational life.

 


Our congregation has come to know and trust Tom as a pastor and friend. He and his family are a cherished part of our community. He is gifted, experienced in ministry, has a deep passion for Jesus, and will serve our church whole-heartedly if given the opportunity.


Respectfully,
The Pastoral Search Team
Brent Bromstrup, Paulo Brito, Diana Gray, Melanie Kolb, and Lacey Sharpe


Timeline of Pastoral Search Team Process

 

April 2023
Pastor Scott met with Pastor Elyse and Pastor Tom to inform them of his decision to transition out of the Lead Pastor role. He encouraged them to pray for God to guide the correct person to become the next lead pastor and further asked them to consider if this would be a role that God might be prodding them to consider.

 

August 2023
Pastor Scott began talking to the Leadership Team about transitioning out of the Lead Pastor role.

 

August thru November
Pastor Scott and the Leadership Team had extensive discussion about how to best move forward and sought out best practices from books, other Covenant churches who had gone through similar pastoral transitions, and several denominational leaders.

 

November 5, 2023
Pastor Scott announced to the congregation his desire to step down from the Lead Pastor Role in incremental steps. He announced he will move to 75% time in January 2024 and 50% time in September 2024 and is willing to serve through August 2025, if needed.

 

November 2023
The Pastoral Search Team (PST) was recruited made up of Paulo Brito, Brent Bromstrup, Diana Gray, Melanie Kolb, and Lacey Sharpe.

 

December 6, 2023
The Pastoral Search Team began meeting to pray, outline process, gain wisdom and listen.

 

January 2024
       A. The Pastoral Search Team held 4 Listening Meetings and also conducted a survey to hear the congregation’s concerns, dreams and wisdom.  60 people took part in the survey and approximately 85 people attended the Listening Meetings. 

 

      The questions that were asked were:

      What is one aspect of LifeSpring's culture that you value and desire to maintain in this pastoral transition? 

      What qualities do you see as essential for the next pastor to possess to be well suited to LifeSpring? 

      What concerns about the search for a new lead pastor do you have? 


       B. LifeSpring began monthly prayer gatherings and a weekly prayer focus to pray for the search process led by Sue Roberts.

 

February 2024
The Pastoral Search Team (PST) processed the feedback from these listening meetings and surveys to help them discern the wise fit for the next Lead Pastor.  They received a resume and openness from Pastor Tom about being willing to be considered for the Lead Pastor position. 

The PST interviewed the staff, Pastor Scott and Pastor Elyse about Tom’s fit for the Lead Pastor position.

 

Mid-February/ early March 2024
The PST conducted two extensive interviews with Pastor Tom and checked his 5 references.

 

March 13, 2024
With much prayer, the Pastoral Search Team unanimously recommended the church to invite Pastor Tom as the candidate to be considered for the Lead Pastor position.

 

March 19, 2024
The Leadership Team met and unanimously affirmed the PST’s recommendation to invite Pastor Tom to candidate. The Leadership team extended this invitation to Pastor Tom.

 

March 25, 2024
Pastor Tom accepted the invitation to candidate with these words:  "I am humbled and honored to accept the call to candidate for the Lead Pastor position at LifeSpring Covenant Church. I have been overwhelmed by the grace of God and the kindness of His people throughout my time as youth pastor and during this search process. I look forward to continuing to learn from Pastor Scott and the opportunity to further serve LifeSpring faithfully as God’s servant."

 

April 1, 2024
A letter was sent to the congregation informing them of this decision to invite Pastor Tom to candidate and the process of discernment forward.

 

April 2024

The congregation was invited to one of two Times with Tom, to ask questions and to hear his vision and heart for leading our church.

 

May 5, 2024

Members of the LifeSpring congregation voted to call Pastor Tom to be our next Lead Pastor at a special business meeting after service.