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Succession: Beloved Lead Pastor Retires Well Amidst Search Committee Challenges



Lead Pastor




Birmingham, AL



“Our church has energy, excitement and anticipation. 100% affirmative vote for Michael. I prayed for it but did not dream it could happen after the broken experience the church had in this search. I can’t say enough good things about Vanderbloemen and how they engaged us.”

 - chair of North Shelby’s search committee

Mike Meadows - Lead Pastor, North Shelby

Executive Summary


A well-loved lead pastor of over 20 years retired, and after 18 months of an unsuccessful search for a new lead pastor and the unraveling of the original search committee, the congregation grew increasingly discouraged. The committee needed outside help and chose to partner with our team at Vanderbloemen to walk through many challenges along this very difficult process. We were able to cast a wider net for potential candidates, and within a few months, the church hired its new pastor with a 100% affirmative vote by its members.



The lead pastor of North Shelby Baptist Church, an established church in Birmingham, AL retired after 18 years of serving the church. He was well-loved by the congregation and community. Due to his long tenure, the church had not needed to search for a new lead pastor for two decades. Since the pastor had retired, an interim pastor had been in place for 18 months. However, the church was struggling to find a lead pastor candidate it collectively admired. During this 18-month period, the search committee had found a candidate they really liked, but could not agree on whether their next pastor should be more focused on pastoring and shepherding, or on preaching. This caused a serious rift among the committee, and eventually, a new search committee had to be created out of the original broken group to complete the Lead Pastor search. Our Vanderbloemen consultant was able to guide the search committee through a rebuilding process so that the pastoral search would be completed and North Shelby Baptist Church would find whom God was calling to their church.




While searching for its new pastor, the search committee had trouble agreeing on the qualities it was looking for in a candidate. The church needed a pastor who could both fill the shoes of its former pastor and offer a vision for the future. The committee was determined to find the ideal fit, but it had not yet felt collective confirmation from God about any candidate. The committee realized that it did not have the resources, experience, or know-how to conduct a broad enough search to find a pastor. After 18 months of searching, the church had begun to lose hope that it would not be able to find the right fit.




The interim pastor recommended Vanderbloemen to the search committee. The committee was ready 

to expand the comprehensiveness of its search and decided that it could use the help of a firm that could cast a wider net of pastoral candidates. The committee decided to partner with Vanderbloemen.

North Shelby Baptist Building


Our Vanderbloemen team came alongside the church and search committee to help revitalize the search process. We visited with the search committee in-person to understand the lead pastor role, identifying the needs of the committee and congregation, and prayerfully discerning the will of God within the search. The church hoped that hiring a new lead pastor would rejuvenate the spirit of the congregation and potentially attract new young families on Sundays. We got to know the congregation and local community to understand the organizational and geographical culture of the church. They had long-held traditions that they wanted to honor and preserve. We were mindful of this and, with the help and input of those congregants and committee members who helped establish the church, narrowed the parameters for the right fit for the job.


Our team was devoted to helping unify the search committee’s vision of its pastor around certain desired qualities upon which they could all agree. Our Executive Search Consultant spent time understanding the strengths and weaknesses of their former pastor--what did they want the new pastor to do the same, and what would they want him to do differently? The consultant asked each committee member to describe the attributes he or she desired in the new pastor. Exercises like this helped narrow the list of desired attributes for the new pastor, helped the committee learn about each other's hopes, and united the committee around an agreed-upon list of characteristics for the next lead pastor.  


North Shelby Congregation Members


After extensive time in-person with the North Shelby search committee and visiting the Sunday service, we began a national search for the church’s next pastor. Within a couple of months, we narrowed the pool of candidates from over 100 viable candidates to six. Our consultant presented these six finalists to the search committee. After interviewing and getting to know the six candidates, the committee was unanimously in favor of hiring Michael Meadows. Meadows is now serving as the lead pastor of North Shelby Baptist Church.


Mike Meadows Family




When partnering with Vanderboemen, a church is assigned a team that includes an Executive Search Consultant, a Research Specialist, and a Client Relations Manager who walk alongside the church throughout the entire search process. The Vanderbloemen Executive Search Consultant who was chosen to work on this search had 30 years of ministry experience, 17 of those as a lead pastor himself. All of our team members are full-time employees, solely dedicated to helping our clients find their key staff. All of our Executive Search Consultants have executive leadership experience at Christian organizations. North Shelby’s Executive Search Consultant knew how to help the church and committee because he has decades of experience building ministry teams.

North Shelby Childrens Ministry

We’re able to provide a global reach for churches who otherwise would be limited to their local networks. We are able to bring churches pastoral candidates they would never find on their own. We also have the capability to perform extensive background and reference checks on candidates. It would have taken the search committee too much time and a large monetary investment to do these background checks on its own.

The chair of North Shelby’s search committee said that Vanderbloemen’s consultant was very responsive and a “great representative of your company.” The committee was happy to have Vanderbloemen’s team manage the heavy lifting of the search process so that they could focus on prayerfully searching for their new pastor.


Mike Meadows Blog Header (2)

A broken situation of a discouraged and fractured search committee was able to be renewed with the help of our consultant. After Meadows was introduced to the church congregation and invited to preach on a Sunday, the church was ready to put the decision of hiring him to a vote. 100% of the congregation voted in the affirmative to hire Meadows. The search committee was exuberant.

The chair of North Shelby’s search committee said, “Our church has energy, excitement and anticipation. 100% affirmative vote for Michael. I prayed for it but did not dream it could happen after the broken experience the church had in this search. I can’t say enough good things about Vanderbloemen and how they engaged us.”

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Topics: Nonprofit