Monday, February 29, 2016

Pochek Family Update

Church Family and Friends,
Last week we shared that we would be at First Baptist Church of Charlottesville on Park Street ( preaching in view of a call on Sunday, February 28. (Well, technically, I was preaching in view of a call, but we had the whole Pochek crew with us!)

As you likely know by now, the church voted overwhelmingly to call us - 396 yes to 11 no - 97.3% according to the math gurus. Our prayer during this process has been that God would make this ministry call unmistakable. We wanted that for our peace of mind, for the peace of mind of our dear church family at Raleigh Road, for the peace of mind of the leadership and staff at FBC Park Street, and for anyone else connected to this process. God spoke clearly and unmistakably through his people yesterday. For that, we are thankful.

We also know that times like these leave a lot of questions. So, I want to take just a quick minute to address a few of them:

1. Is something wrong at RRBC that is causing you to leave?
NO. Emphatically, NO! God is doing a great work in our midst. Sometimes he calls a servant to a place and a people for a season and then moves them to another place to make room for what he has "next" for everyone. RRBC is a great church with a great future and, in many ways, I envy the next pastor. :-)

2. How long will you be at RRBC (in Wilson)?
Well....we don't know exactly. There are many details to work through with our Overseers and with the leadership at FBC Park Street before I can give you definite dates. Having said that, our plan is to be in Wilson and leading RRBC through at least the end of March. We have much to consider - selling our house (know anyone looking for a great house?), getting a place in Charlottesville lined up, etc. We'll keep you updated as we know more.

3. What will happen at RRBC?
The church will continue! This church has never been about one person - whether that was Pastor Eddy or myself (the only two lead Pastors we've had!), or any other staff member or member. In the near term, the Overseers will be working to line up an Interim Pastor who will handle preaching duties on a regular basis. The Overseers are committed to making sure the pulpit ministry at RRBC remains strong, biblical, and winsome. In addition, our By-Laws lay out the plan for developing a Pastor Search Committee to locate and extend a call to the next Senior Pastor.

Thanks for taking the time to pray for us and for all of your kindness. As we transition to Charlottesville, we will be leaving behind a piece of our hearts in Wilson (as well as our son Dave!). We've had deeper friendships here than anywhere we've ever been. In addition, the people at RRBC have made me a far better pastor than what I was when I arrived. You have sharpened me, strengthened me, and shaped me in unbelievable ways. I am humbled, thankful and honored to have served with you these nearly seven years.

Until I have more to share....

Pastor Rob

Sunday, February 21, 2016

A Prayer Request from Pastor Rob and Susy

Friends and Church Family,

Although I shared this at Raleigh Road Baptist Church following morning worship, I wanted to share it here for those who were not in attendance.

Beginning in the late summer / early fall of 2014, we have had contact with a number of churches, denominational agencies, and even schools about roles that would move us from here at Raleigh Road. One of those churches was a fairly large church located about 30 minutes from my parents. Other opportunities were here in NC, SC and a variety of other places. In every case, we prayed, sought the counsel of trusted friends, and decided to continue to serve right here.

On December 3rd, 2015 I was contacted by the search committee at First Baptist Church in Charlottesville, VA ( in connection with their search for a Senior Pastor. I had done some research on the church to determine my level of interest. I found the church had a rich history of strong biblical preaching, church planting, and significant missions involvement. So, I proceeded in having conversations with their search committee during December and January.

During that time I kept Franklin Witter – our Personnel Chair and an Overseer – in the loop as to what was taking place. In late January, Susy and I visited Charlottesville to formally interview with the Pastor Search Committee at First Baptist Charlottesville. At that point, I notified the entire Overseer body as well as Pastor Joe and Bill about what was taking place.

After our weekend in Charlottesville, their committee asked us to come back on Sunday, February 28th to preach in view of a call, which we agreed to do. After several thoughtful discussions with the Overseers, we concluded that it would be best for as few as people to be aware of what was happening until today. Here at Raleigh Road, we have built a culture of transparency in all things. That is why I am taking the unusual step of sharing this with you. Very few pastors would dare to inform their churches of something like this ahead of time, but we are not most churches. We have sought to create a culture here in which it is “normal” for me, as your pastor, to want you to pray for this situation.

We also want you to know that this has not been an easy process. Susy and I have agonized over it, prayed over it, sought the counsel of others over it, and have had many long talks with each other about it. We love this church. We love you. Engaging in this process has not changed that and could never change it. We need you in this process. We need your prayers.

At the outset of this announcement, I shared other opportunities that have presented themselves to us so you understand that we are not desperately looking to leave RRBC. If we were, we have had several opportunities to do so over the past 18 months. We do want to desperately pursue God’s call on our lives, whether that is here or there, or wherever the Lord may lead.

I know some of you will be surprised by this announcement. Some may be disappointed. Some may be worried. And others may even be angry. I understand those emotions. But, I would encourage you to turn all of those emotions toward one thing: depending on God for the future. And, let us be mindful of Paul’s words to the church at Corinth: “What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe – as the Lord has assigned to each his task” (1 Cor 3:5).

We would ask you to pray that God would make his will unmistakably clear in this process. If that is for us to go to FBC Charlottesville to serve as their next Senior Pastor, we will rejoice in that. If God chooses to use us in a different way for FBC Charlottesville and to remain at RRBC as your Senior Pastor, we will rejoice as well!

We covet your prayers and we will share the outcome of the vote at FBC Charlottesville via my Facebook page on Sunday, February 28th.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Finding Your Sweet Spot in Ministry

The “sweet spot” is a term often used in spots to describe the location at which an object being struck absorbs the maximum amount of the available forward momentum and rebounds away from the racket, bat, club, etc. with a greater velocity than if struck at any other point on the racket, bat or club. What that means in simple terms is that an athlete gets the maximum amount of response for the effort applied. My experience with hitting the sweet spot is limited to golf, tennis and a little bit of softball. Although I have not hit the sweet spot often, when I have, the feeling is as if you have not hit the ball at all. Indeed, that is the fundamental experience of hitting the sweet spot: the bat, or club or racket does the work.

When I talk with young pastors I encourage them to find a “sweet spot” of sorts to experience the maximum amount of joy and effectiveness in ministry. In my estimation, a person’s sweet spot in ministry (or most any profession) is the place where three primary components overlap. Those components are the individual’s gifts/skills/passion, the culture of the church (or organization) and the needs of the community (or market). This particular article will focus on ministry-related work, but is applicable to many other marketplace professions.

First, I encourage young pastors to discover their God-giving gifts, skills, and passions. Indeed, I have written a book on that very issue! Yet, it is surprising the number of young pastors / ministry professionals who think they know what they are supposed to be, but do not know who they really are. Too many pastors have adopted a ministry identity that is rooted in their experiences of previous pastors or mentors rather than one that has been birthed in the unique gifts, skills, and passion that God has placed within them. So, ask yourself: What energizes me in ministry? What brings me joy? What do I get up looking forward to? The answers to questions like these will give you an idea as to your gifts, skills, and passion.

Second, I encourage young pastors to discover the culture of the church they are serving. Every church has a culture and it is vital to understand that culture. As Peter Drucker is reported to have quipped to Mark Fields at Ford Motor Company, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” It is no different in the church. A pastor can have the best seminary training, a big vision, and a well planned strategy, but it will be difficult (if not impossible) if it is counter the church’s culture. That is not to crush the hopes and dreams of idealistic pastors; it is to remind them to consider the church’s culture when implementing vision and strategy. Ask yourself: What are the historical markers in this church? How are decisions made in this church, and why? What do the people in this church unequivocally and enthusiastically support? The answers to questions like these will give you an idea as to the church’s culture.

Finally, the third component is the needs of the community. By this, I am not simply asking about the general needs of the community, but what needs are not being met by another organization or faith community? This is a crucial area for a pastor to consider. His vision must take into account the genuine needs in his own community that are not being met by a gospel-centered ministry. Not only ask what needs are not being met, but who are the people who are overlooked by other ministries? What is not being done that should be, for the sake of God’s kingdom? Answering these kinds of questions will help determine the needs of the community.

At this point it will be helpful to imagine a Venn diagram – three circles with an overlap where each of the circles intersects – to discover the “sweet spot” in ministry. Each of the three components described above is represented by one of the circles. The sweet spot, naturally, is the place where the answers to the aforementioned questions overlap – the place where a pastor’s gifts, the church’s culture, and the community’s needs intersect. When a pastor discovers and can function within this sweet spot, ministry becomes a joy and tremendously more effective.

Are you serving in your sweet spot?