“I don’t know if people understand how scary this is. I think the closest I could say is it's like giving your daughter away to her husband... It’s not just about leaving the church I love, it’s about leaving the church I’ve given my life to.”
David Whiting, Former Lead Pastor of Northridge Church
In 2016, Northridge Church faced something that all churches will face at some point – the departure of their Senior Pastor. For 15 years, David Whiting served as Northridge Church’s Lead Pastor, leading them from 200 people to over 2,000 on a Sunday morning. He walked through life with his congregation, celebrating the good and grieving the bad. While David loved serving the people of Northridge, he began to sense that God was calling him to something else.
“If I’m going to be stepping aside from this, someone else is going to be in my seat. I have to turn it over, and I’ve got to do this right,” David recalls.
David and his leadership team started discussing who would step into the pulpit next. They knew they had an incredible team, but they also didn't think the next leader of Northridge was currently on staff. They decided to go with a search firm because they knew that their opportunity to find the next lead pastor was a bit limited.
“We wanted to find the absolute best option we could, so we knew the more contacts we had, the better.”
Scott Bixby, Northridge’s Executive Pastor, had already been a part of a lead pastor search process 14 years before and remembered how challenging and time-consuming it could be. “I remember sitting there and looking at a stack of resumes with the team, trying to figure out how we were going to get through them all,” said Scott. “It was a daunting task, and it took us years.”
The leaders at Northridge were a little hesitant about using a search firm since it is a bit of a newer concept for churches and can seem corporate. However, once they were introduced to Vanderbloemen the decision to use a firm became pretty easy.
“[Vanderbloemen] learned who we were and represented us well. It’s a relationship we want to have for a long time,” David says.
“What I love about them is that they don’t just bring you someone and say ‘here’s your next pastor.’ They bring you a group of people that will fit the DNA of your church, fit the staff culture, and fit the demographics of the area.”
“I think what Vanderbloemen did for us was give us confidence. They helped us create a plan and then work that plan,” Scott added.
In less than five months after beginning the process with Vanderbloemen, Northridge introduced their new Lead Pastor to their congregation. Through Vanderbloemen, Northridge was introduced to Drew Karschner, a Next Gen and Teaching Pastor from Georgia, and who God was calling as the next leader of their church.
Under Drew’s leadership, Northridge continues to grow and thrive. Northridge was even named among Outreach 100's Fastest Growing Churches in 2016. Drew believes that David’s leadership paved the way for him to step in to a successful setting, and David has become a mentor to Drew.
And although it was bittersweet to close this chapter of his life, David is excited for Northridge and all that is ahead. “I couldn’t be happier for Northridge Church. The only thing I’m not happy about is I can’t be here week in and week out to be a part of it.”