February 12, 2017
Sam Rabon was voted the new pastor of Faith Bible Fellowship!
January 29, 2017
From the elders: announcement of a candidate for pastor
You have been a patient congregation. The elders appreciate the many, many prayers you’ve poured over us during our search for a new pastor. We’ve often been encouraged to hear you interceding for us at the prayer meetings on Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings. You have been so supportive in word and deed, and we give God ongoing thanks for you.
Now your prayers and support have come to fruition. We would like to propose a candidate for our next pastor. Our constitution calls for a vote by the congregation two weeks after this announcement, during which time you are to talk to the candidate or to the elders and let us know what you are thinking. And I can tell you, the candidate is very eager to talk to you, so please take us up on this invitation.
I’m not trying to tease you by saying too much before I give the name, but what I say next is important, and I want to say it while I still have your attention.
The office of pastor in this church is a part-time position. It always has been and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. This is in part due to the financial constraints of a small church, especially a church that gives a third of its income to missions, as we do here. But it mostly has to do with our beliefs about what a New Testament church should look like.
We have always been an elder-led church as specified in Titus 1 and other passages. The elders are servant leaders—the church belongs to all of us. As many of you noted in our conversations, this is a family, and we are all contributing members to the family. Or we may use the biblical metaphor of the body, of which we are all important parts.
Really, while we called Lee our pastor, he was technically a teaching elder, and some of you refer to the position by that name. One or two of you, in fact, suggested we keep going just as we’ve been going, without an official pastor, and that’s something we considered. But for a variety of reasons we decided to fill the position, and you may call the new man “pastor” if you choose or “teaching elder” if you choose.
Also, I need to note that part-time or bi-vocational pastors are not unusual, and in fact that’s the case in over 25 percent of churches in the U.S. There are seminaries that cater specifically to bi-vocational pastors, and we believe that’s the best approach, as does our candidate. So if you need convincing, let us know and we or he will get you resources to read.
But here’s the important point. We must have proper expectations of what the new pastor should and can do with the limited hours he’ll have to serve us. The candidate we are proposing holds a full-time job. He will not have the time a retiree would have. He has a deeply sensitive heart, he cares very much for people, he will want to do extensive shepherding — but his time will be limited. In addition to his other job he will need to give much attention to his family.
His primary duty here will be teaching, and even in that capacity we want to give him ample support. Good teaching is a huge job, as all of you teachers know well. So we want to help him with that job as well. The elders and some outside speakers will continue to fill the pulpit regularly.
So what’s the bottom line? We must continue doing just what we’ve been doing for the past year-and-a-half. When the new pastor is named, it will not be a time to relax and decide he can take over. We elders will continue to do all the shepherding we can find time to do. More critically, we will maintain the checking-up checklist and support all of you as you look out for one another. You’ve done such a beautiful job of it, and we are so blessed to have the congregation we have.
If you are in need, please continue to look to one another or to the elders for help, depending on the nature of the problem. This is the biblical standard. We’ve seen situations in which you’ve helped one another through very serious struggles, burdens that surely would have fallen to Lee in the past, but burdens you’ve learned to share together. And those struggling and those helping have both been blessed by the effort. That’s what church is all about.
Again, this pastor will help as he can, but we must be very sensitive to his own needs and the demands on his time. Yes, we’ll need to support him in his struggles just as he will be supporting us in ours.
Now on to the man himself. When the time comes we’ll let him tell his part of the story, but I do want to say that he didn’t seek this position and, in fact, he took a good long time praying about it, as did the elders, before deciding to go ahead. His only motivation — I can’t stress this enough — his only motivation in coming is his conviction God has brought him here. We elders share that conviction. God has directed our paths in myriad ways, and we have tried to follow best we can, bringing us to this point.
We took quite seriously your comments when we interviewed nearly all of you about what you would like to see in a pastor. You wanted someone seasoned, preferably with a seminary degree, and preferably not too old. God has blessed us with a man fitting that description. Most of all, you wanted someone who is a good fit, someone who understands that FBF is a family. I can tell you this man is as good a fit as we could ever hope to find.
We are as delighted with the man’s family as we are with the man himself. It’s been a real joy to get to know his wife and boys. What a blessing!
I said at the outset you were a model of patience, and I don’t want to test that patience any longer. Most of you have guessed anyway. The elders are very pleased to announce our candidate for the next pastor of Faith Bible Fellowship is Sam Rabon.
Sam is a graduate of Furman University and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He served as youth and children’s pastor at Heritage Baptist from 2005 to 2014, and he served one year as an interim pastor for Jamestown Presbyterian Church. He was officially ordained for the ministry last August at Heritage. He is currently the community outreach director for the Farmville Area Habitat for Humanity.
But as with anyone, his resumé doesn’t really tell the story. It’s who he is as a follower of Jesus that has impressed us most, his heart for others and for this community. It’s also his transparency and his authenticity, both in personal conversation and in the pulpit.
His wife, Camille, is the band director at Fuqua School, and she too is full of God’s Spirit. A friend of mine at Fuqua couldn’t say enough about Camille’s impact on his children and on that school.
As we know, the Rabons have three sons, Seth, Caleb, and Isaac. It will be a joy to watch them grow and mature in the faith.
Again, please use the next two weeks to talk to us and the Rabons and to pray God’s guidance and blessing on this exciting time in our fellowship! We will have a brief Q&A at the end of next week’s sharing time, with the vote the following week. Thank you.