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communications@e-b-c.org.uk www.eastleighbaptist.org.uk January 2020

What has changed at EBC during the Pastoral Vacancy? A document for prayer and discussion.

Eastleigh Baptist Church Wells Place Eastleigh SO50 5LJ

communications@e-b-c.org.uk www.eastleighbaptist.org.uk


We have now been in pastoral vacancy for over two years. During this time the Leadership Team have met with 9 candidates. Only one candidate has progressed as far as a “preach with a squint� but both he and we agreed that the process should not continue beyond that point. We put together our church and senior minister profile for prospective new ministers to look at a few months into the vacancy. This profile can be viewed on our website https://www.eastleighbaptist.org.uk/church-profile.html. It is now out of date as many things have changed during the period since it was written. The start of this new year feels like an appropriate time to consider what has changed and review our profile in light of these changes. The rest of this document details the changes that have occurred; we have endeavoured to keep it as factual as possible. We hope to look at the detail of this with you at our Sunday afternoon church meeting on 1st March. We are issuing it well in advance so you have time to read it and pray through how you sense God might be leading us to change our church and senior minister profile as a result.




01 The Ministry Team consists of our paid staff of Rev Chris Walker (Youth & Children’s Minister), Toby Dodson (Community Minister) and Emma Leggett (Operations Manager). They have been joined by our Church Secretary, Tony Harrison while we have been in pastoral vacancy. Lynda Wisbey retired from being our Pastoral Worker (and hence part of the Ministry Team) in May 2018. Before we went into vacancy the team was structured for the most part so that Joth, as Senior Minister at the time, would meet individually with each of the members of the team when required for direction, management input and pastoral support. The team have been operating very differently since then. Some of this has been through necessity without a Senior Minister but much has been through natural evolution of a way of doing ministry together and the introduction of Emma’s role into the team shortly before the pastoral vacancy commenced. Today the team consider issues across church life together – both within their own areas of ministry but also those areas that would have fallen to a Senior Minister. They consult each other, do a number of things as a 2, 3 or 4 and receive pastoral support from each other. This has made them closer and also more aware of the full picture of church life. It is a collaborative style of serving together that they would like to continue. The Ministry Team are stretched too thinly and believe a fourth paid member of the team is definitely required. They also believe that to go back to the team structure in place before the start of the pastoral vacancy would be a step backwards in terms of growth of the team.

The paid ministry team have all grown in ability and in experience over the last 2 years eg in addition to their regular workloads: 

Toby now has quite a lot of funeral experience, has a team so is managing staff and has dealt with a wide variety of serious pastoral issues. Chris has put together all the teaching series and most of the small group materials. He has also stood in the worship gap. Emma has led the church through some big issues – children’s worker / pledge day and Vision Discovery (together with Chris and Tom) and leads the team on what issues are on the horizon with order and priorities.

Tony supports the paid team both pastorally and practically taking on tasks in addition to his Church Secretary and IT roles when it is appropriate. The Ministry Team have managed the day to day workload between them and also a number of difficult situations together which have included safeguarding referrals, employment issues and pastoral crises. The team have called on additional advice when necessary from the Baptist Union, the regional team and Jonathan. The introduction of the Church Operations Manager role into the team shortly before the pastoral vacancy has improved the organisation of church life, the time span ahead things are being planned for, the linking together of teams and WPC and EBC sitting better together.


We agreed that God was calling us to undertake a vision discovery journey mid 2018. This has been continuing at a steady pace. The Beyond the Horizon vision is now understood to be one of family. Should the church meeting be happy to proceed then the next step will be to start to map out the steps in the journey needed to get there and to start implementing them. The vision statement will inform the direction of a number of aspects of church life as we move forward and is therefore mentioned on a number of occasions in the remaining points.


03 Ruth Sichel, Lesley Smith and Chris Harvey have worked hard at keeping the prayer life of the church central to all we do. The vision prayer spaces and the lead up to Easter 2019 are particularly memorable. This team has moved prayer higher up the church’s agenda but, together with the Leadership Team, they feel like it is a big challenge to continue to encourage us all to keep it as a priority and the first thing we turn to. Ruth who has been our prayer portfolio deacon is phasing out her leadership of this with a move to being on the leadership team we are building for our small groups (see small group section). We will shortly have a prayer portfolio vacancy therefore which we need another prayer warrior to fill in order to maintain the momentum that has been created.

04 Lynda retired in May 2018 and then moved away in the summer of 2019. The PCT structure that Lynda set up continues to work. The PCT is now being led by volunteers but needs more person hours available to it to oversee. The family vision will mean that it also requires experienced high level pastoral care input in order to inform the direction it should take in the not too distant future.

A number of family type events have had to be cancelled since Lynda moved away due to lack of resources to plan and run these. Crisis pastoral care is largely being covered by Toby Dodson and Ruth Sichel. The salary we were paying Lynda has been re-directed to the Children’s Worker.

05 We are seeing more people come through the door. A number of those who have higher needs are involved with other agencies (eg inclusion, mental health services) but are also receiving support from us, in particular a safe haven to spend time in. Some bring with them a range of issues such as addiction, social issues, marriage problems, housing and loneliness as well as some serious health issues.

Labyrinth Sunday showed that we have grown in how we are able to reach out to visitors. More people are getting involved with those who visit us regularly in the coffee shop and Coffee Shop Pastors are getting more experienced and doing a great job.

A number of this group have become Christians. More resources and a possible change in our small group structure is needed to help them grow in their faith.

Lisa Bonter’s role of volunteer Community Ministry Assistant has been recognised by the church and is much required. Matt Jope has joined the team and is invaluable within the community ministry team of volunteers. Matt is also playing a pastoral role with the church family as many people approach him for advice / help.

The family vision that God has given us should cause community ministry to increase further.

Community Ministry links in well with existing agencies within CTiE eg Basics Bank, CAP.



A decision was made a couple of years ago to spend time strengthening our youth team. This has taken some time but we are now seeing the fruit of this. Our youth team is strong. We also have a volunteer Youth Minister Assistant (Jon Wilton) this year which has made a huge difference to how much can be achieved. A new bible study group has started for ages 11-16. Pastoral care for our young people has sky rocketed. Our children’s team is also strong but needs more resource and to be developed further. This is awaiting the appointment of a Children’s Worker. This appointment has not yet been made and is being re-advertised at the moment with an application deadline of end January 2020. This will be a key role in order to help fulfil the family vision. Schools work is starting to pick up again in the expectation that a children’s work appointment will be possible soon. It is only possible to fulfil at the moment with the help of the Youth Minister Assistant.

07 EBC and WPC sit more comfortably together now than at the beginning of the pastoral vacancy. Planning is done across both organisations to make operations as smooth as possible and to facilitate 7 day a week church. Our Deputy Church Operations Manager (Laura Lagdon) manages WPC on a day to day basis allowing Emma more time to focus on EBC. Communication has improved with the church family who are IT aware. More work needs to be done with communicating to our older members of the church family perhaps through the visiting team. More resources are required in order to bring One Magazine back which is our main vehicle to communicate moments of celebration. ChurchSuite is in early stages of getting off the ground. Alan Saunders, who holds our property maintenance portfolio has worked hard at catching up on the maintenance of our buildings during the pastoral vacancy and they are in much better shape. Decisions regarding the future of Desborough Hall will need to be made soon.


08 Sermon series have been well put together during the pastoral vacancy and appropriate for the moment that the church is in. Chris, Jonathan and Toby have been taking a Sunday morning a month each for the most part. It is difficult however to continue the consistency of the series theme with some lay or visiting preachers with the current stretch on Chris’s time. We have had a number of different lay preachers in the evening. With more resources this team of people could be developed further. Chris feels a calling to teach and sees lots of opportunity to expand and develop our teaching team and depth of learning (including small group and Barnabas Network resources) both for adults and across all age groups and abilities in the church.

09 We are currently putting together a team to oversee all aspects of our small group ministry. This team will include Chris Walker, Toby Dodson, Ruth Sichel, Jon Callen and our current small group co-ordinator Ian Whalen with one or two others joining as the team gets established. Small groups will be pivotal in being family to each other as the family vision

starts to work out and will be the main vehicle for providing pastoral care to each other. Small groups will also be pivotal for discipleship of new Christians. There is no current strategy for growth or multiplication of small groups. This is a large piece of work which needs high level support and will be at the centre of our family vision.





Barnabas Network


Worship is central to all we do and believe but has been struggling for some time. We have no one available to us at this moment who has the necessary gifting to develop this team. The Ministry Team are currently looking at how we manage this situation. The technical team has depleted in numbers during the vacancy.

This is currently ticking over in the background but with plans to re-launch in 2020. Although Chris would like to be more involved from a teaching perspective, current workload does not make that possible. The relaunch will therefore be outsourced. This is a key discipleship tool for us with huge room for growth.

The number of deacons has decreased during the pastoral vacancy as people have come to the end of their appointment, but have not been replaced. There are very few deputies for each portfolio waiting in the wings to take over.

Outreach We strategically reduced our big events for a season to concentrate on more 1-1 discipleship and growth and harvesting the seeds that had already been sown. We looked at building crowd again during this Christmas season. The big events we have done during the pastoral vacancy have gone well. CTiE is important to us and we form a large part of it. However CTiE needs a strategic leader to move it forward. Relationships between church leaders are strong and the social action element is thriving.


WHAT NEXT? Please pray through the details in this document and listen to what God might be saying about the changes we need to make to our senior minister and church profile. Jonathan will briefly mention this at our church meeting on 23rd January with a fuller discussion happening at our Sunday afternoon church meeting on 1st March. If you have any questions, please speak to any of the Leadership Team.

Thank you.


Profile for Eastleigh Baptist Church

What has changed at EBC during the Pastoral Vacancy?  

What has changed at EBC during the Pastoral Vacancy?