Hear Pastor Kent Hobi's heart on the proposed leadership transition.
Proposed Ministry Team
Pastor Steve Sindelar, Senior Pastor
By God’s grace we will continue to and grow in “rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15) as our pastors and their families (1 Tim. 3:4-5) gently and patiently (1 Tim. 3:3) lead by example (1 Tim. 4:12), encouraging the church to joyfully persevere (2 Tim. 2:3) with right doctrine and practice (1 Tim. 1:13-14).
If you have right doctrine that lives in your heart, you will have right practice that lives by your feet. Our church enjoys a strong outworking of right Bible teaching through our evangelism and discipleship culture. By God’s grace, we will continue to glorify God by encouraging each other (1 Tim 5:1) and praying for our evangelistic relationships (1 Tim 2:1-4). By God’s grace, we will continue to cultivate a deepening disciple-making culture (2 Tim. 2:2) that will glorify God by encouraging us in holy (2 Tim. 1:9; 2:21) and hopeful living (Titus 2:13).
By God’s grace, I will lead our elders as we continue to work together equipping our church for ministry work, unity, and Christ-likeness (Eph. 4:12). I am so encouraged that as a pastoral ministry team, we have over 100 years of combined pastoral ministry experience. With their wisdom, along with the countless decades of ministry by all our elders, and by God’s grace, we will continue to stand firm in our faith, shepherd God’s flock, and please our Chief Shepherd for God’s glory (1 Pet. 5:1-4).
Pastor Mike Hixson, Associate Pastor
By God’s grace I will continue to use my spiritual gifts as a pastor for the building up of the body of Christ at Grace Church. I have deep roots in this church and this community, and God has opened many doors to share the Gospel and to see new Christians further discipled.
I also want to continue working with Pastors Steve, Kent, Mark, and the other elders as we transition to our next season of Grace Church. Our unity as leadership comes from the Spirit, but it must be maintained by us (Ephesians 4). My heart is to maintain and model unity for our congregation during times of change.
Finally, as chairman of the ARCH board, I desire to assist Pastor Tim as he transitions to ARCH fulltime. My goal is to foster healthy communication with our church and within the ARCH board so that both Grace Church and ARCH can flourish within our ministry vision.
Pastor Kent Hobi, Assistant Pastor
It is my personal desire during this transition time to help our church family understand that we are drowning in a sea of God’s goodness. We are basking in the reality of Romans 8:28. The door of ministry open to us insists that we do something. God has prepared us for this very hour. It is our time. Let us get up on the “horse of providence” and ride it in the spirit of 1 Corinthians 10:31 and Colossians 3:23-24! I look forward to continuing to serve Grace Church of Mentor as her Equip Team Pastor, overseeing our discipleship and leadership development pathways, including Brandon Teske’s continued development in our Children’s Ministry, and serving our Young Marrieds Life Group.
Pastor Mark Mavar, Assistant Pastor
My ministry heart during this transition is to provide support to the biblical model of transition found in 2 Timothy 2:2. This principle has been in practice for as long as I have been at Grace Church of Mentor. I hope to assist the pastoral team with the things that the Lord has taught me during our 20 years of ministry on the foreign field. I look forward to ministering at Grace Church during this time and overseeing the Maturity Matters group while I continue to reach out to the Spanish-speaking community in the US and abroad.
Pastor Tim Potter, Assistant Pastor
The spread of the gospel of the Lord Jesus as explained in 1 Thessalonians 1:8-9 can be the reality of the local church. For us at Grace, it has. It is my desire to oversee, along with the family at GCM, gospel expansion into our “Judea, Samaria, and uttermost parts of the world.” It will remain an honor for me to follow the leadership and the flock of Grace Church of Mentor as we pursue these gospel efforts together.
Watch the church-wide meeting outlining the next steps in the proposed transition process.
Hear Pastors Steve and Mike share their hearts for the future at Grace.
Frequently Asked Questions
Has this been done before at Grace?
Yes! Pastor Potter Sr. transitioned to focus on Arch Ministries, a church planting and supporting ministry of Grace Church, after pastoring as senior pastor at Grace. He worked underneath the direction of the elders to advance gospel progress in 3,000+ counties nationwide.
Why do we need this change now?
During the Covid pandemic, the elders grew increasingly burdened that church planting and advocacy opportunities through Arch Ministries would soon need full-time focus.
Who approves this decision?
Our Constitution is clear that a quorum must be present for senior pastor succession: the voting members present must approve by 75% or greater. Prior to the congregational vote, the pulpit committee must first consider the current associate pastor. Pastor Kent Hobi has declined the consideration, and the pulpit committee must first consider candidates from within and nominate one at a time. The pulpit committee considered all current pastoral staff.
Why did Pastor Kent decline consideration for senior pastor as the current associate?
Pastor Kent has a tremendous heart to continue eldering at Grace; however, he believes that he best glorifies God as an assistant pastor according to his gifting and stage of life.
Will Pastor Tim and Ronda be cared for? What will Pastor Tim be doing?
Pastor Tim will be supported full-time through Arch Ministries, a ministry of Grace Church. Pastor Tim will report to the Arch board and Elders of Grace. There is a 5-year development plan for Arch Ministries.
Will we see Pastor Tim and Ronda at church?
For a time, Pastor Tim and Ronda will be focused on helping other churches. During that time, they will be absent from Grace; however, he will retain his eldership—and Ronda her church membership—and they will join us again for worship as their ministry calendar allows.
Who will oversee the Youth Group and First Five Years?
We currently have 5 couples not including Pastor Steve and Charla helping in the youth ministries. Underneath Pastor Kent’s oversight, Brandon Teske will be Director of Children’s and Youth Ministries. Brandon is currently working on his Master of Divinity degree and desires pastoral ministry. It will be up to the church to recognize and affirm his gifting. Pastor Steve and Charla along with Seth and Emily Coelen will continue to oversee the First Five Years group.
Are there any church budget implications of the transition?
The church staffing budget will remain the same for the next few years; in time, this change is forecasted to decrease the church staffing budget.
Why are we considering one pastor at a time?
The Constitution is clear that the pulpit committee nominates one man at a time with approval from the elders. This nomination then goes to the congregation for a vote.
Why is Pastor Tim taking a sabbatical now?
About 12 years ago, the elders approved a plan recommended by the Administrative Advisory Committee (AAC) to ask pastors to take a sabbatical (elongated paid time off) to invest in themselves and their families and consider future ministry goals. Pastor Tim was due a sabbatical two years ago; however, with Covid, it was not an appropriate time. While the timing is not intentional from a succession standpoint, it will serve as an opportunity for the church to “train” for the possibility of succession.
Added October 6, 2023:
Will the staff realignment affect salaries? And what impact might this have on the church budget?
The AAC (Administrative Advisory Committee) has worked hard to project these changes and to keep them budget neutral. They also use industry standards to determine fair compensation based on position, tenure, education level, and church demographics.
Pastor Tim’s salary will progressively be transitioned from Grace Church to Arch Ministries within the next 5 years (GCM and Arch Ministries are separate 501(c)3 organizations), so that Arch will eventually assume all of Pastor Tim’s salary.
Is Pastor Tim’s reassignment to Arch permanent? And does he have a job description for Arch?
Yes, the plan is for Pastor Tim to oversee Arch Ministries permanently. The elders have approved an Arch job description that will serve as a guide for Pastor Tim’s ministry in Arch. A summary of the Arch job description is available here.
How will Grace Church keep up-to-date on Pastor Tim’s new role in Arch?
Pastor Tim will be giving quarterly updates on his activities. When needed, Pastor Mike, as chair of the Arch board, will help communicate Pastor Tim’s travel itinerary (location and purpose) to the congregation for prayer.
Pastor Tim mentioned changes in the Sunday morning preaching. What should the congregation expect?
The Elders of Grace are committed to an expositional (line by line) preaching philosophy that faithfully encompasses the whole council of God. In that respect, nothing will change. In our past, the Sunday morning pulpit was weighted to the senior pastor’s preaching. The Elders, however, recognize that as a church matures, there may be several elders gifted by God to preach God’s Word on a regular basis. This is the implication of 1 Timothy 5:17 where Paul instructs that the elders (plural) who are working hard at preaching and teaching in the church should be able to focus on that work by being supported (double honor) in the ministry.
What accommodations will be made for Pastor Steve and Pastor Mike as they assume different responsibilities as Senior and Associate Pastors?
Both Pastors Steve and Mike have already made adjustments in their weekly schedules to take on some of these newer roles. Grace has also been blessed to have other members take on areas of ministry that once belonged to Pastors Steve and Mike. Pastors Steve and Mike are committed to the philosophy of training elders and deacons and equipping the saints of Grace Church to do the work of the ministry.
In the event the congregation does not approve the recommendation for Pastor Steve as Senior Pastor on December 3rd, what would happen next?
Pastor Tim has submitted a letter desiring reassignment from senior pastor to pastor overseeing Arch Ministries. The elders have honored this request. If the December 3 vote for Pastor Steve does not pass, then the Grace Church Constitution would have the Associate Pastor (Pastor Kent) act as interim Senior Pastor. The pulpit committee then would reconvene and follow the prescribed order of candidates. The Associate Pastor (Pastor Kent) would be nominated first, and depending on his response, the pulpit committee would either submit him for nomination as Senior Pastor or they would consider another candidate from within Grace Church.
Added November 6, 2023:
What are the requirements for the vote on December 3?
Our Constitution defines quorum as 60% of members in good standing. Quorum must be met in order to vote on church leadership. Once the quorum is met, the candidate must have 75% affirmative of all votes cast.
Example: If members in good standing number 300, then the quorum necessary to hold the voting process would be 180 (60%). Number of votes cast (this could be and typically is more than the quorum) is 210. If there are abstentions, those are considered a non-vote. If, as an example, there were 5 abstentions, the total votes counted would be 205. The candidate must then receive 75% of 205, or 154 votes to be elected to the position.
Can you please specifically explain the process you used to evaluate the candidates for senior pastor and the criteria you were looking for (questioning the candidates, evaluating their sermons, questioning family members, questioning church members or groups, etc.). Based on your data gathered and criteria above, what were the deciding factors that made you ultimately decide Pastor Steve was more qualified than Pastor Mike for the senior pastor role?
The process used to put forward a candidate to the congregation for senior pastor was regulated to a high degree by our Constitution. A pulpit committee was formed as per the Constitution's direction. The pulpit committee took a few months to deliberate over its recommendation to the elders. The pulpit committee believed to a man that we were "drowning in a sea of God's goodness" when it came to the candidates that were before them. We marveled at God's goodness to Grace Church with respect to her future. Joy was expressed in the fact that all three candidates before the committee were men that were well-known, had been ordained to the gospel ministry at Grace, all had effectual pulpit/teaching ministries, and had demonstrated the pastor-teacher gifting along with other gifts unique to the individuals. Pastor had led us well in our 2 Timothy 2:2 responsibility. Over the years, as a church we joyfully encouraged each man in their gifting. We all felt that our church would be much hindered if any one of them left. Praise the Lord!
As per the Constitution, the titled associate pastor, Kent Hobi, was considered first to be put forward. The pulpit committee moved to make him their recommendation; however, during the ensuing discussion, removed his name from consideration. Since at that point, there was limited constitutional direction, the chairman of the pulpit committee proposed a process to put forward, from the two remaining assistant pastors, a candidate for senior pastor. The process included but was not limited to the following: prayer; study of the relevant passages in the New Testament with respect to the pastor, esp. 1 Peter 5; a four-part application document filled out by the candidates and their wives; encouragement for each pulpit committee member to speak with the candidates; consideration of their giftedness and their present ministry endeavors. The task was a considerably difficult one. The task was rendered difficult not because of multiple deficiencies, but because of an abundance of blessing in these men!
In the end, each member of the pulpit committee submitted an anonymous written page concerning a way forward. Time was again given to pray over the majority decision, and then a motion was crafted and delivered to the elders naming Pastor Steven Sindelar to be considered as senior pastor as per our Constitution. Along with their recommendation, the pulpit committee included several points of consideration: 1) Grace Church of Mentor has benefited from both pastors. The mission of Grace Church of Mentor has been especially advanced as both pastors have served effectively together, and we are confident that this will continue. We realize that each pastor's calling is ordained by and directed by the Lord and that the Lord determines their path. 2) It is our hope, desire, and intent that both pastors will minister together, in the roles and responsibilities as they have proposed. We feel that this will allow both men to flourish individually and Grace Church of Mentor will continue to grow in Gospel advancement, and influence. 3) It is our hope, desire, and intent that Grace Church of Mentor will continue to support, encourage, and assist in maturing the gifting that both pastors have shown. Each pastor will be allowed many opportunities to minister to the congregation in teaching, preaching, administration and evangelism. 4) It is our intent that both pastors will be treated equitably in salary, benefits, educational opportunities, and advancement.
The elders considered the recommendation from the pulpit committee for a period of time. They unanimously agreed to put the pulpit committee's decision to the congregation.
Does the congregation vote on all vacant or new pastoral positions or just the senior pastor position?
The intention of our Constitution is for the congregation to vote on the position of who fills the senior pastor position. This is demonstrated by the fact that our church has not voted on the assignment of other pastoral positions since the adoption of our current Constitution, only who fills the role of our senior pastor position. However, our church does vote on elders and on those who are ordained as pastors of our church -- but not their position in the church. During the last major transition, Pastor Dave Cannon left his position as Associate Pastor to take a pastorate in California. At that time, Pastor Kent moved into the Associate Pastor role by appointment from the then-senior pastor. The elders recognize that there is need for clarity in our current Constitution and will seek to amend it further (with congregational approval).