for consideration of applicants
for the position of Pastor
Tuckingmill Reformed Baptist Church, as it was originally known, was planted in the eastern side of Camborne a little over fifty years ago. Initial growth, particularly as a result of substantial efforts put into youth work in the area, permitted the planting from Tuckingmill of two further evangelical churches, first in Falmouth (now Falmouth Evangelical Church (Reformed)), and then Helston (Helston Baptist Church (FIEC) in 1985).
Church life in more recent decades has been fairly placid. Membership is currently in the twenties, and the average age marches steadily upwards. Numbers are more typically sustained by the arrival of people already possessing a faith in Christ, and some of substantial maturity. Baptisms have not been as frequent as we would like them to be! However, people continue to grow as believers, and the church is as warm and supportive as it is committed to a conservative evangelical understanding of the Gospel and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The current pastor of the church is due to retire after 17 years in post, and we are therefore seeking a new man to serve the church in this role.
Affiliations and fellowship:
Still confessionally aligned to the Reformed “Doctrines of Grace”, the church has recently affiliated to the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches. Having recently reconstituted ourselves as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation, we reaffirmed as our Basis of Faith the FIEC Doctrinal Basis and ethos statements, and (specified chapters of) the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith.
We are also delighted to participate in the very healthy fellowship of quite a variety of other committedly evangelical churches around western Cornwall, and the local Gospel Partnership group.
There are not many of our regulars living within a reasonable walking distance of the church, though almost all would only require a short car journey in order to attend. Although still identifying with this particular part of Camborne, Tuckingmill does not really seem to have a particularly pronounced local identity in its own right.
Camborne is one of the old centres of Cornish mining, and such towns are now well known to have had glorious pasts at the heyday of the industry, but to be living in harder times nowadays. Being “inland” (though only a couple of miles to the north coast!) means that the church does not have any huge influx of summer visitors, or the town itself of extra residents. The roads are notably busier, though, as the joined areas of Camborne and Redruth represent the largest conurbation in the area, and therefore function as providers of much of the extra shopping necessities.
Considerable urban regeneration is ongoing in the area, with part of the site of the South Crofty mine, for example, just half a mile from the chapel, scheduled for building work soon. Many new residential estates are in the planning or building stages. Our involvement in the local area is not heavy, but the Pastor is currently chair of governors at our nearest, quite large, local primary school, and a Chaplain at a local secondary school.
Soon after the planting of the church, the original pastor stepped up to full-time service of the church. Full-time ministry has been the pattern in each successive pastorate, too. The church has consistently dug deep in order to support these ministries - though it is quite possible that this has been somewhat to the detriment to the maintenance and appearance of the church building.
Only one of the four pastorates to date has been substantially less than a decade, but in each pastoral transition so far, an interregnum has taken the church rather by surprise. We consider that another substantial interregnum at this point would very likely be seriously damaging to the church.
Since the Pastor’s arrival in 2005, the church has settled into a welcoming and supportive fellowship of God’s people. We are still committed to thoroughgoing expository preaching, but also meet regularly to pray, and to think through the implications of the ministry we hear. In some ways, we have been drawn closer through the challenges of 2020-21, meeting exclusively via Zoom for a whole year, but still caring effectively for one another during that time. The church’s leaders are, in many ways, just members of the church, too; everyone participates in spiritual and practical matters, as they are able.
The approaching transition:
It is clear that we are at a crucial point in the history of the church. As a substantial proportion of the church are approaching a stage of life when full and active participation is becoming more challenging, “young blood” is increasingly becoming a practical necessity. So we are looking for a new pastor with some clear gifting for evangelism as well as teaching, as it is appropriate to consider our current need as “church revitalisation”.
Just very recently, we have started praying more earnestly for new people to join the church, and (at the point of writing this, at least) we have been very pleased to have seen what is, for us, a substantial influx of new faces. But not all of these have stayed and become fully involved in the work of the church, and there is still a marked deficiency in terms both of the younger generation, and of mature believers who are ready and able to take up positions of leadership within the church.
Accordingly, should the church be successful in recruiting a new pastor, we might also consider asking other like-minded churches in the area to lend us some members for a defined period, to support a period of consolidation.
A smooth transition, instead of an interregnum, would be greatly preferred. The current Pastor is due to retire in 2023, but is likely to remain living in the area; he and his wife have no particular desire to leave the church, but will only stay if their presence and participation is felt to be fully supportive of the newcomer. Earlier retirement and handover, perhaps with a period of transition, would be seriously considered.
Early in a new ministry, the identification and training up of a new generation of church leaders would be a priority. It is not immediately apparent where these might arise from among our current membership. Although the church was initially set up with the Pastor clearly defined as the leader, decision-making has more recently been much more by consensus than by dictat (within the elders’ meetings and the church members’ meetings), and we would hope that a sharing of leadership responsibility and authority could be rapidly established.
Urgent issues: evangelism, and calling a new pastor:
Many of our members are good Christian folk who are by nature more introverted: warmly committed to one another and to growing in grace, but simply not particularly outgoing. Evangelism has therefore been limited.
The church has recently realised the urgency of searching for a new Pastor, and has started taking the necessary steps. Even if this is happening at a time in numerous members’ lives when great change would not naturally be particularly welcome, it is to be hoped that this newly-awakened sense of urgency will also rekindle something of the church’s earlier evangelistic zeal.
We will therefore be particularly praying that a new Pastor should also possess some clear gifting as an evangelist, as well.
Practicalities of finance:
One key practical issue that continues to concern us is the level of financial support we can offer to a new Pastor. The current membership has dug very deep in giving what they can to support our current Pastor, but it is only fair that we should realise that a larger stipend will be needed in future. It is also fair, though, to remember that wages in Cornwall are not high, by national standards, and this may in turn reflect on the appropriate pastoral income in this given location. And living in Cornwall does bring its own unique benefits!
We believe that we should be in a position to offer a new Pastor free accommodation (a nominal rent may need to be charged, simply to ensure that rights as tenants are legally established - we will need to take advice on this) a few miles from the church, which would also be suitable for a small family. But, even coupled with this, we recognise that we may not be able to provide a stipend appropriate to a full-time position. But, as with the original setup of the church, 50 years ago, we would still strongly hope and pray that growth within the church could result in the return to a full-time ministry.
The role of the pastor
The Scriptural requirements of a pastor are very largely based on character, rather than being limited to “job performance”. So we will be seeking references relating to character from a candidate’s present and/or past leaders and/or colleagues who have known him well, as well as enquiring about practicalities such as his …
… holding to the Bible as the inerrant Word of God, necessary and sufficient in all matters of doctrine and of practice
(In our context, that will include wholeheartedly assenting to the FIEC Statement of Faith, and the specified chapters of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith.)
… demonstrating and holding to godliness in his devotional and personal life and in his relationships within his own family, the church and the wider world.
… having sound and thorough knowledge of the scriptures and a solid foundation of theological understanding, mature in his faith and understanding of the Christian life.
… being able to preach and teach in accordance with the scriptures both pastorally and evangelistically, showing the relevance of the scriptures in our modern world.
… being committed to the notion of the Church as both the body of Christ, united together in him, and as a family who care for one another.
… being engaging and personable in dealing with all types of people, able to provide pastoral care both to those who are in need and those who wish to grow further in their faith.
… being able to exercise church discipline in a loving and gracious way when necessary.
… being able to work together with the other elders (we have two at the moment) and the deacons to lead the church and administer church business.
… being able to support and mentor/disciple others in the fellowship who may be called to preach or teach.
… being able to retain the Church’s independence, but also to be able to work with other Bible-believing Churches locally and further afield.