Frequently Asked Questions
Q- Why is this happening now?
A – As the book of Ecclesiastes declares, there is a time to every purpose under heaven. And now we have entered a time of transition, at God’s direction. As our founding pastors, Bryan and Carmen Garfield shared, after more than 20 years as our senior pastor, God directed them to resign and take up a new appointment, to care for and minister to other pastors through Bryan Garfield Ministries. For more than two decades, they invested their prayers, sweat, toil, and, often, tears, into planting and building this church. Now, God has ordained that it will be our burden, together with a new senior pastor, to move forward and achieve the greater things the Lord has in store for Church on the Rock.
Q- How was Pastor Bryan chosen to be senior pastor?
A – To put it as simply as possible, the Lord installed Bryan and Carmen Garfield at Church on the Rock. Twenty-one years ago, the Lord called Bryan and Carmen to Chicago’s northwest suburbs to plant a church at the junction of Interstate 90 and Route 47. Beginning with just a handful of families, Church on the Rock has grown into the big, beautiful spiritual family, on our lovely campus, in just that location, as the Lord directed. And throughout that time, we have grown together, under the leadership of the Garfields, as the founding pastors. Now, however, as an established congregation, COTR members have the opportunity to participate in the process of selecting the next senior pastor.
Q – Why would Pastor Bryan leave? Does this mean something is wrong?
A – Actually, quite the contrary. By following the call of God again now, as he and Carmen have done their entire lives, Pastor Bryan leaves the church poised for greatness ahead.
There have been no moral or ethical failings. Bryan and Carmen Garfield remain happily married. The church Council did not rejoice, or feel any relief, upon learning from Pastor Bryan of his intention to resign and relocate to go to their next assignment.
Further, Church on the Rock is on the most solid financial footing it has ever experienced in our 21 year history.
Our ministries are healthy, strong, and growing.
And our staff and pastoral care team are vibrant and effective.
While sad to part ways, we rejoice with our brother and sister, Bryan and Carmen, at the blessings we know will flow to them and us, as we all run – and win - the race the Lord has set before each of us to run.
Church on the Rock belonged to God before Bryan and Carmen Garfield even arrived, and it continues to belong to Him now. This is not a time of anxiety. It is a time of growth and anticipation, as we wait on the Lord, renew our strength, and prepare to soar to the heights the Lord has destined for us.
Q – Who is “in charge” at COTR now? Who will be preaching on Sundays?
A – While Pastor Bryan has departed, Church on the Rock is not without shepherds.
Before he left, Pastor Bryan and the Church Council put together a church leadership plan to ensure the continued work of ministry here at COTR.
Our Associate Pastor Josh Nguyen has agreed to serve as interim senior pastor during this time of transition, until such time as a new senior pastor is selected. Pastor Josh has served at COTR as a pastor for the past 7 years. In recent years, Pastor Bryan entrusted Pastor Josh with an ever increasing array of church administrative and ministry duties, including overseeing church staff, to allow Pastor Bryan to focus on the core duties of senior pastor.
To assist Pastor Josh, COTR has hired Pastor Joe Meyer to attend to various duties, including overseeing various ministries, providing counseling, conducting weddings and funerals, and any number of other functions that would populate the job description of a pastor at an Assemblies of God church, like ours. Joe Meyer comes to this post with decades of pastoral experience in a variety of roles, including as senior pastor at other churches in the past.
We are blessed to be in such good hands as we move through this selection process.
As for who will be in the pulpit on Sundays, you can expect to mostly see Pastor Josh. However, just as Pastor Bryan did not preach every Sunday, so, too, you can expect to see other anointed ministers and speakers sharing the pulpit at various times, including pastors from the Illinois District Council of the Assemblies of God.
Q – So Pastor Bryan is not coming back. How will a new pastor be chosen? Who decides who the next pastor will be?
A – The process of selecting a new pastor is not one COTR’s leadership is inventing as we go along, nor are we just “trying to figure things out.”
Rather, we will be following a process governed by the Church on the Rock Constitution and Bylaws and informed by guidelines and recommendations provided by the Illinois District Council of the Assemblies of God.
Under the COTR constitution, the next senior pastor will be nominated by the Church Council “after prayerful and careful consideration.”
The Council has also chosen, as allowed by the constitution, to assemble an advisory search committee, to help with the pastoral selection process, and, by God’s grace, offer different perspectives to consider in the selection and nomination process.
After the Council has nominated a final senior pastor candidate, the members of COTR will be asked to agree to that selection at a special congregational meeting. The pastoral nomination must be approved by a two-thirds vote of members in attendance at the meeting.
So, if you are a member at COTR, you WILL have a say in who the next senior pastor will be.
Q- How long will the search and selection process take?
A – The short answer is: As long as it takes.
At the beginning of this process, the Council received a striking bit of prophetic wisdom: God has already chosen who the next pastor of Church on the Rock will be. We have been called to discover who that person is.
Please do not believe or expect that this process will be short and quick. We have been advised by the Illinois District Council that, on average, a pastoral search and selection process can take up to six months or more.
Please be assured that, over the coming weeks and, perhaps months, the Pastoral Search and Selection Committee is moving forward with all due urgency, but also taking the time to ensure the process is conducted with all the care, diligence, and thoroughness we know you would expect for making such an important decision.
We ask for your prayers and patience as move forward, together, through this season.
Q – Who is on the Pastoral Search and Selection Committee?
A – The committee includes the elected Church Council and three members of the congregation, who have agreed to accept the responsibility of assisting with this heavy duty. Council member John McGillivray serves as chairman of the Committee. The other eight members of the Committee include Church Council members Tim Anderson, Karen Ruehrdanz, Ray Martell, Mike Baretto, and Jonathan Bilyk, and congregational representatives Dana Serrano, Laura Baker, and Chad York.
Q – What is the role of the Illinois District Council in choosing the next pastor?
A – Church on the Rock is an autonomous congregation, in fellowship with the Assemblies of God. That means, we operate as a mostly self-governing church congregation, under the covering of the overarching pastoral leadership of the Illinois District Council of the Assemblies of God.
The leadership at the District Council has offered their support and wisdom throughout the process. As they help 10-15 churches in Illinois complete this process every year, we have gladly accepted their gracious offer.
However, the final decision, under the COTR constitution, rests with us, not the District Council or any representative thereof.
Q – What criteria and standards will be used to evaluate pastor candidates?
A – Beginning immediately, the Search and Selection Committee will accept resumes from potential candidates, and will accept recommendations for potential candidates from COTR members and other sources.
The Committee will then use a variety of criteria and standards to evaluate those candidates.
Among other criteria, the Committee will evaluate candidates based on:
Prior pastoral experience
Evidence of success and anointing of the Spirit in past pastoral assignments
Preaching ability and communication effectiveness
References and recommendations
Ability to fit within and enhance COTR’s culture, mission, and vision
Some factors will be given more weight than others, but a wide variety of factors will be considered in reviewing, eliminating, and/or advancing candidates.
Q – Will the congregation get a chance to meet the candidates before a new pastor is chosen?
A – Yes and no.
This is not a multiple choice, or political campaign. Nor will it be a talent contest or beauty pageant.
Rather, under the constitutional process, the Council and Search Committee will advance just one candidate to the membership of COTR for a vote.
At that time, the Council will announce the nomination, and schedule a “Candidate’s Weekend” for the congregation to meet the pastoral nominee. The nominee will then preach at that weekend’s Sunday morning service, and a special congregational meeting will immediately follow, for the purpose of allowing members to vote whether to accept the nomination of the new senior pastor.
Q- Why should I stay? And why should I continue giving without knowing who the next pastor will be?
A – If you believed God had led you to make Church on the Rock your church home while Pastor Bryan and Carmen Garfield were still here, then Church on the Rock is still your church home.
It was the Lord, through Pastor Bryan, who added Pastor Josh and Pastor Joe to lead and minister to the congregation. It was the Lord, through Pastor Bryan, who appointed the deacons to provide pastoral care.
It was the Lord, through you, the members of COTR, and Pastor Bryan, who elected the members of the Church Council.
If you believed and trusted Pastor Bryan, we humbly ask you to continue believing and trusting in the people Pastor Bryan trusted to help him build, lead, and minister to this congregation.
But even more: We believe you do not want to miss what God will do next through this congregation. In the Bible, transitions of leadership, under God’s guidance, mark the times the Lord was preparing His people for even greater things to come.
And we want you to be able to enjoy and share in the abundant blessings and unfathomable achievements that the Lord has destined for this church in the coming years, on the other side of this time of transition.
Q - Why can’t we just pick Josh and be done with this?
A – Pastor Josh has agreed to serve as executive pastor throughout this search and selection process, overseeing the ministry and business of COTR, until we select a new senior pastor.
However, while the Council loves Pastor Josh, just as you do, the Council believes this process should not and cannot be hasty. Simply because someone is known to us, and beloved by us, does not necessarily mean he is the person God has chosen.
Consider the story of the anointing of David as king of Israel: God had chosen him. However, Samuel himself did not see it at first. Rather, he had to go through the process of having the various sons of Jesse come before him, one by one, before God told Samuel that David was the one.
In the same way, the Council believes they owe a duty to the Lord and to you to allow the selection process to move forward in an orderly and thorough fashion, with prayer and soberness, to be absolutely sure we have discovered the person God has chosen to be the next senior pastor.
Q - How else can we participate in the process?
A – The most important way for anyone to participate in this important and church-defining process is to pray.
Please pray for the Lord to give the Council and the Search Committee wisdom and discernment to be able to quickly identify the right candidate for the senior pastor position, and to be able to advance that nomination to the congregation with confidence and assurance.
Pray for the continued health and unity of COTR.
Pray for Pastor Josh and Pastor Joe, and all in leadership, as they continue to minister to you.
Pray for the Lord’s continued blessing to rest on COTR.
Pray for the Lord to enlarge our opportunities to reach the lost, to bring the Gospel to our communities, and continue to pursue the mission and vision the Lord has given for COTR from Day One to Today.
Then: Encourage one another.
Connect with one another in community, in prayer, in worship, in service.
Continue to invite anyone you can to experience the Lord here at COTR.
Continue to give and to volunteer, for the life of the church continues throughout this process.
In short: We have not hit “Pause” on the work and life of the church.
So, we ask you to continue to work to make COTR the church you would want it to be, and – most importantly – the church you believe the Lord has called us to be.
Then, feel free to talk with the Council members and Search Committee members, to let them know what you’re thinking and feeling, and to help move the process forward in a constructive and uplifting way, that protects the unity of this congregation.
Q – I have more questions. Who can I talk to?
A – If you have any church ministry related questions, the pastors, staff, and deacons are always here for you.
For transition related questions, please reach out to members of the Church Council either in person or drop a message through the church app, by clicking the button on the COTR website, or by leaving a written question or comment in the black box in the lobby.
And please, MOST OF ALL: Remember to continue to pray for your church and for the Pastoral Search and Selection Committee and the process we have all undertaken, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit of God.
May the peace of the Lord be with you all, and may the Lord richly bless you and this, His church.