Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Easley at Englewood? How Did That Happen?


The following article was written by the Pastor Search Team of Englewood for the sole purpose of letting the church family hear the story of how God brought Englewood and the Easley's together:

Process - the steps you take to reach a goal. A process isn't always fun and usually isn't easy. Sometimes God allows our decisions to take years, forged in the fire of heated discussion and terse debate. But God had a different plan for Englewood and her Pastor Search Committee. He was gracious to give unity, peace and swiftness. God remained in control and He alone receives the glory.

The Pastor Search Committee first gathered on November 24, 2013 in The Jett Fellowship Center. Surrounded by the Deacon Council and Personnel Committee, they received their charter before being prayed over as they began the search.  These ten church members, formed into one committee, were ready to focus on the task at hand. They spent time getting to know one other, learning the spiritual gifts God had given each. There is no ‘how to’ book on finding a Senior Pastor so they prayed for a spirit of unity, a spirit of discernment and for each other as individuals. One prayer was, “God, this has to be all You.”  The committee began working for hours each week. A retreat was scheduled and they began praying for discernment of what God would have them do. They asked questions: Who do we know? What does this process look like? What resources do we use? At times, the responsibility was overwhelming but they pressed in closer to God - always seeking His will.

Frank Page, President of the Southern Baptist Convention, first shared Jordan Easley's name in early December 2013. The search committee liked Jordan from the beginning, but with a notable résumé and thriving ministry they weren't sure if God would call him to leave his current position and come to Englewood. So his name was put on a list; a long list with hundreds of names – each one researched, discussed and prayed over. But time after time they received Jordan's name.
More names and résumés poured in and the committee was faithful to go through them one by one.  Each committee member can tell a story such as lying in bed watching sermons late into the night or wondering how they would ever finish their stack of résumés. The task was hard and they struggled with what seemed an impossible task. But God was faithful and a word of encouragement from Jarrett Stephens, a Teaching Pastor at Prestonwood Baptist Church, pushed them through. “Don’t settle.” And they wouldn’t. 



The committee had discerned what kind of pastor they were looking for; now all they had to do was find the one God had called. From the survey of the congregation they knew he needed to be a skilled communicator. From meetings with the staff they knew he needed to be a strong leader and from their time together seeking the Lord they knew he needed to be a visionary.

In early March, the committee felt led to reach out to Jordan to see if he would be interested in meeting. He did not receive the message. Soon after, another pastor shared Jordan’s name and more importantly his cell phone number. The initial contact was March 10 and a meeting was set up for Thursday evening, March 13. They met at Union University where they would spend six hours in deep discussion. Jordan told them he was excited about the meeting but also nervous – then they dove in. One of Jordan’s first statements was, “I love missions. If you’re not all about missions, then I’m not your guy.”  They knew they were on the right track. In the end it wasn’t just questions about theology or his methodology that got everyone excited, though those were discussed in depth, it was the simple conversations where they could see his heart. They knew he was “The real deal.” A committee member remembers thinking, “This guy has energy and we can’t believe he is here!” Jordan asked each committee member where they saw the church in ten years and listened intently to their responses. At the end he looked up and said, “You’re not dreaming big enough, we need God sized dreams.” The committee sat back with both their eyebrows and excitement raised. Some left the meeting in tears wondering if they would feel the Spirit of God so strongly again soon. They were all convicted and energized by Jordan's passion for Jesus. Jordan left and immediately called his wife Audra; they spoke from the time he left until he pulled into his driveway two hours later. 

Jordan felt the Lord was calling them to Englewood. The search committee felt peace.
Eight days later they gathered in Hendersonville, TN to visit Jordan and Audra. Over the next four hours they learned about Audra's involvement in ministry as a minister to others, as a small group leader and as an active participant in serving with Jordan. More was learned about Jordan's strengths and spiritual gifts; he listed them as communication, leadership and vision – the same three the search committee was looking for. The next weekend was spent at Long Hollow Baptist Church where Jordan delivered a message affirming what the committee knew - Jordan Easley was the man God had called for Englewood.

After the service they ate lunch with the Easley family. Jordan and Audra introduced their eight-year-old daughter Jailee and seven-year-old son Asher. The committee witnessed how approachable and relational Jordan was with those he served as he spoke with everyone in the restaurant. In their next meeting they voted unanimously to recommend Jordan as the Senior Pastor of Englewood. Jordan and Audra asked for a week for prayer and discussion. Previously, eight other churches had been seeking Jordan as their senior pastor. He hadn't felt a peace about these and finally knew why. Through prayer, he and Audra had said no to these offers – they felt God calling them to Englewood. 

On April 4, 2013 Jordan met the lead ministry staff of Englewood and the following morning met with the deacons. The deacons voted the following Wednesday evening, April 10, and every active deacon voted 'yes.' It was a unanimous endorsement of the search committee’s recommendation. Throughout the process, the committee continued to receive Jordan's name as a probable candidate. Humorously, Dr. Jett saw Mickey Tabor, the committee chairman, on April 3 and told him repeatedly, “I have a name for you.” Mickey knew the committee was introducing Jordan over the weekend and graciously passed over these comments. After Dr. Jett met Jordan the next evening he went to Mickey and showed him the name he had written – it was Jordan Easley. Both men shed a tear remembering the faithfulness of God.

Jordan remarked, "I'm excited about the future. It's not about how great this church is and it's not about the potential this church has. It's because it's a God thing - and I want to be part of God-stuff!" 
Englewood's Pastor Search Committee is thankful for the continued support and prayer from our Englewood family. We have your prayers and received your words of encouragement wholeheartedly. It was our deepest desire to follow the Lord throughout the search process. We are grateful God lead us quickly to call Jordan Easley and gave us unity in our work.

The Pastor Search Committee
Gary Carter | Mickey Tabor | Denise Bell | Jim Patterson | Blake Pennington | Spencer Pratt | Juanita Talley | Christy Treadway | Leslie VanRavenswaay | Mary Ellen Vaughn

3 comments:

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