For more than 40 years, we’ve been blessed by the ministry of Jim and Melody Congdon. Jim continues to be an effective teacher and shepherd, but he knows that it would be irresponsible to fail to plan for the future as he approaches retirement. To that end, Jim and other members of the elder board have developed a plan for identifying our next lead pastor.

On this page, you’ll find some frequently asked questions about succession planning, as well as a way to share your thoughts with the elder board (anonymously, should you choose to do so). To see the response to each item below, simply click the question to expand and reveal the answer.

We invite you to join in prayer as we enter this significant and exciting journey in the life of our church! 

1. What is the timeframe for the succession plan?

Jim and the elder board have spent the past few years developing a multi-phase succession plan. The first phase of that plan – which included prayer, research into succession planning best practices and identifying the essential qualities of our next lead pastor – is now complete. The next phase involves soliciting applications for the lead pastor position, and that phase is already underway. It is impossible to predict how long it will take for the Lord to bring along the individual He has for TBC. We anticipate this to be a long process. Much care – and therefore, time – will be taken to identify suitable candidates, interview, check references, undertake theological discussions and conduct on-site visits, etc. Once the Lord makes it clear whom He has chosen to lead TBC, Jim and the rest of the elder board will work with the new lead pastor to determine the length of time needed to transition. There are many variables involved in this process and we must trust God’s timing every step of the way.

2. What type of individual is the elder board looking for?

In addition to having a doctrine and theology that align with those of Topeka Bible Church, the skills and qualities identified by the Jim and the board as necessary for the lead pastor are:

  1. Excellent, expository preaching

  2. Strong work ethic

  3. Broad personal involvement in ministry

  4. Productivity

  5. Evangelism/missions heart and activity

  6. A wife who encourages him to fully pursue his calling and responsibilities

  7. Leadership giftedness and courage

  8. Integrity

  9. Spirituality

  10. Humility and humor (an ability to laugh at himself)

  11. Analytical thinker and problem solver

3. Where is TBC looking for candidates?

Six seminaries which are aligned doctrinally with TBC have been contacted for possible experienced candidates. In addition, the elders are making use of their connections to other, trusted ministries and individuals who may be able to identify possible candidates.

4. Will we, the congregation, have a voice in who is hired as the lead pastor?

TBC is an elder-led congregation. This means that the lead pastor reports to and is responsible to the elder board, which sets the overall ministry philosophy and strategy. While the elder board is ultimately tasked with identifying who we believe would best fit the Biblical and practical criteria to be the next lead pastor, in accordance with TBC’s constitution, TBC members (those who have gone through the official membership process) will have the opportunity to vote to confirm the elder’s recommendation. In addition, the board welcomes all helpful prayer, suggestions, comments, and candidate referrals throughout this process. Also, see the “Feedback” section at the bottom of this page.

5. Jim is as active and interested in ministry now as he’s ever been. Why is he thinking about retirement?

We all agree that Jim remains fully capable of continuing to minister. As he approaches his 70th birthday, however, he wants to be proactive to groom and prepare for the next chapter in the life of TBC. He doesn’t intend to stop ministering, but he understands that – for the ability of TBC to continue to minister effectively beyond his legacy – now is the time to plan for a smooth transition.

6 What are Jim's plans after he retires?

As we all know, Jim has many skills and interests. He intends to continue serving on the boards of Jews for Jesus, Bibles For The World and John Brown University. Additionally, he intends to use his teaching skills – he’s confident that the Lord will show him exactly what that will look like when the time gets closer.

7. Will the new lead pastor make any changes at TBC?

As an elder-governed organization, all ministry philosophical and strategic changes will be discussed first by the elder board, of which the lead pastor is a member. We would certainly expect that a new lead pastor would work with the elder board to bring new, fresh ideas to our ministries. However, we realize there is a need for some continuity and consistency, and we will be sensitive to that.

8. Will the new lead pastor bring in his own staff?

It’s the firm intention of the elder board that the wonderful staff we currently have at TBC will continue to serve here.

9. How can we, as a church, best pray for this process?

Please join us in asking the Lord for His guidance, wisdom, leading, and perfect timing. Please pray for everyone involved – from Jim and Melody, to the elder board, staff, and church family. Also pray for the man God has chosen as Jim’s successor (and his family), that they hear a clear calling from God and that everything involved in this transition be shielded from the efforts of the enemy.


If you have comments about succession planning at TBC, our elder board wants to know! Complete the information below. Whether you share your name and contact information is up to you. You may remain anonymous if you wish.

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