Leadership FAQs

Last revised: 10/10/2019

It has been a time of transition for us at First Baptist Church of Durango. The elders commit to transparency and openness throughout the transition to new pastoral leadership. We know there are many questions and concerns, and we hope to address these here as best we can. Based on a few questions the elders have received, and a few others we imagine may exist for some folks in the body, we have compiled the following questions and answers. Feel free to return as we plan to provide updates here as we go. 

Who is leading the church? 

This church body is led by elders. We presently have one elder, Jimmy Thoma, who is also a staff pastor. The elders have asked Jimmy to serve as lead pastor in an interim capacity during the transition. 

What are elders and who are they?

The New Testament speaks often about elders, their qualifications, and their roles. Elders know, feed, lead, and protect church members like shepherds do with sheep. They take their guidance from their Lord and Savior. Elders are called to shepherd church members like Jesus shepherded his disciples. This is impossible without faith and supernatural provision from God. See 1 Peter 5, John 21:15-17 and Acts 20:28. We lead with a plurality of elders. We are convinced this is a model well-supported and instructed in the Bible. A majority of the elders are unpaid non-staff volunteers called to minister in their gifting in this way (you may hear these called lay elders or lay pastors).  

How can I contact the elders?

Please feel free to contact any of the elders at any time via email. If you would like to have a conversation, please include your number and request that they give you a call.

Brian Shaffer                

DJ Cl.  

Dave Johnson          

Ken Flint  

Jimmy Thoma       

Robert Gerst  

What is the current state of the church?

While having the Women’s Ministry Director and Lead Pastor step out of their roles this year has brought change that we did not seek, we fully recognize that Jesus Christ builds His church. He is and will be the hero of this story. Thanks to the Women’s Ministry leadership team (Jodie Klumpenhower, Rose Maes, and Allison Claassen), women’s ministry is thriving. Jimmy has embraced the interim lead pastor role, and we are pleased with his performance. Additionally, other members of the body plug into various teams and tasks to serve each other in this church. The elders affirm the staff and lay leadership as they faithfully and skillfully work towards the goal of seeing lives transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Will we be hiring someone soon?

Seemingly the most obvious gap to fill is the pastor here at First Baptist. The one area where we wanted to put our attention first is that of Redemption Church, the church plant that we launched less than a year ago. The recent transition impacts have been felt deeply at Redemption, and the elders want to shepherd that body well. As God led, we found that He was cultivating a call for ministry for one of the elders, Robert Gerst, to serve as the Church Planting Pastor at Redemption Church. The elders confirmed that call in Robert and are presenting him to the body for that half-time pastoral staff role. The attendees at Redemption were polled and were in favor of his leadership. The congregation has the opportunity to officially affirm the elders’ selection during a special meeting after each service on Sunday October 20, 2019.     

What other changes are coming? What’s next?

The elders will shepherd the body through this transition. Keeping James 4:13-17 in mind, the elders intend, if the Lord wills, to create a job description for the pastor we seek and then to find him. This will take as much or as little time as necessary. We at First Baptist have been blessed by the Lord with a diversity, sufficiency, and completeness of gifting in the people in our body. So the work of ministry goes on in pursuit of the mission to love God, love people, and make disciples. We will trust the Lord. Meanwhile, the Word will be preached and the gospel will be proclaimed. We just finished a four part series that tells the story of God’s plan throughout redemptive history. Next we will dive into a look at the church and what the Bible has to say about it. Then, coinciding near the start of the new year, as the Lord leads we’ll be back in the normal rhythm of preaching through a book of the Bible -- this time a gospel.

Who will preach on Sunday mornings? 

Jimmy will be in the pulpit primarily but not exclusively. We are also intentionally calling on some elders and others in the body to preach on certain passages and topics. 

Will a search committee be formed?

Yes. The elders desire to seek the Lord with humility and dependence, be guided by the Word of God, and to represent the different interests in the body throughout this process. The pastoral search team will be led by and comprised of the elders in accordance with the bylaws. Depending on how the Lord leads in this process, the elders may seek wise counsel from trustworthy individuals and may also ask them to serve on the committee. 

What can I do?

You are a vital part of this body. Please embrace the truth that the entire body is filled with gifted and empowered ministers, so prayerfully consider how you might help serve. Please pray as we seek the Lord. Join and pour into gospel community as we walk through this process together. We ask the body to continue joining us Sunday mornings to hear what God has to say through Jimmy and the others.