Last week, Abraham introduced you to Gami Ortiz, our candidate to become Kossuth’s Pastor of Worship and Connections. This week, we want to share a bit more with you about the process that has led us to this point as well as what the next steps look like—and hopefully answer some questions you may be asking.
Can you tell us more about the process with Gami up to this point?
We first interacted with Gami when he sent us his resume in response to our position posting last August. His was one of the first resumes we received, and from square one, it seemed evident to both sides that God might be bringing our paths together. The more we interacted, the more confident we have become that this is indeed of the Lord. These interactions involved numerous phone conversations, multiple Skype calls between Gami and the elder team, reference calls, and considerable interaction around Gami’s gracious responses to our lengthy questionnaire (available online here and in print at the Welcome Desk). Finally, a full weekend of in-person interaction with the elder team and a group of ten key ministry leaders in mid-December led us to believe that this was the direction God is leading, and the elders invited Gami to spend a week with our whole church family (January 12-20). We are thrilled Gami and Cathi said yes, and we can’t wait for you all to meet them!
What caused the elders to conclude Gami is the right man to join Kossuth’s pastoral leadership team?
At one level, the answer is simply “the Lord’s leading.” This includes the little, intangible ways God directs our steps and timing (evident even in how Gami came across our position posting—ask him for that story) combined with confirmation from every step in the process of Gami’s character, capability, and compatibility with our team. Gami shares Kossuth’s heartbeat for disciple-making, while the background and experiences God has given him complement our current team in unique ways. The Pastor of Worship and Connections role involves multiple areas, and Gami fits each of them well.
Why is the church being asked to vote on Gami as an elder initially? Why not bring him on staff now and wait on eldership until later?
The elders seriously considered the “staff now, eldership later” option, and Gami was open to either route. Our church constitution actually makes both options a bit awkward, but several factors led the elders to ask our church family to affirm Gami as an elder from square one. Here are three factors that contributed to that decision:
- Consistency of title and function: We are asking Gami to step into a very pastoral role with a broad scope that involves worship leadership and preaching. Since Gami will be functioning as a pastor, it is most appropriate to call him a pastor.
- Consistency with biblical titles: In our constitution (and, we believe, in the New Testament), the terms “pastor” and “elder” refer to the same church leadership office. Affirming Gami as an elder avoids the confusion of calling someone a pastor but not an elder or of having separate processes for affirming someone as a pastor and as an elder.
- Simplicity in process: If we were not confident Gami is biblically qualified to serve as an elder, we would not be inviting him to join the staff team. Asking the church to affirm Gami as an elder now avoids duplicating this candidate/evaluation process again 6-12 months later. The current elder team has evaluated Gami’s background and qualifications through multiple personal interactions with both Gami and with references who also affirm his qualification after observing his life over a several years.
This isn’t the way we have affirmed elders in the recent past. Why are we doing it differently this time around?
Rewind the clock a decade or so, and staff additions at Kossuth were often made after a very short interaction with a limited few followed by a church vote to “call” the pastor. More recently, new staff team members have been hired as interns or with a non-pastoral title (Director, Minister) and then gone through a lengthy eldership process a few years later. In this case, we have adopted a much more involved, lengthy process on the front end: five months and counting of interaction with the elder team plus the upcoming week-plus of all-church interaction. We believe this is appropriate because of the role/function/title reasons mentioned above as well as the significance of asking the Ortiz family to move from Haiti to Lafayette.
What does my role in this process look like?
Pray! “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). We continue, as ever, to need the Lord to guide and direct as He wills.
Be involved! Please share any feedback or questions you may have. The elders anticipate extending Gami a formal invitation to join the Kossuth staff team, but we desire the input of our church family before finalizing that decision. In addition, we are asking church members to vote on Gami as an elder during the Connection Hour on January 27. Toward this end, please involve yourself as much as possible with the Ortiz family while they are here. Our goal in arranging this weeklong interaction with Gami is to enable the most prayerful and informed decision that we can.
How can I interact with Gami and his family while they are here?
The Ortiz family will be in Lafayette January 12-21. Gami is preaching this Sunday (January 13). The following Sunday (January 20), he will be leading worship and will also be interacting with our church family during the Connection Hour and Family Gathering. Please make it a point to be present in all those settings. In addition, several interactions with various leaders, ministry teams, and care groups are scheduled during that week. Please contact the church office (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions about how you can be involved.