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Search Team Announces JBA Lead Missional Strategist Candidate

In Fall 2019 we were informed that Dr. Rick Wheeler would be stepping down as the Lead Missional Strategist (LMS) of our Jacksonville Baptist Association (JBA) to lead Florida Baptist Financial Services. He began his new role officially in January 2020. Upon his announcement, the Lead Team of the JBA selected a team of men and women to serve as the LMS Search Team. It was my honor to be chosen by the team to serve as chairman during this process.
When Baptist Press shared Dr. Wheeler’s transition, resumés began arriving at the JBA offices and others were submitted in the following weeks. We requested that all resumés be submitted by early December 2019. During this time, our committee members were praying for God’s lead and meeting to discuss the process for calling our next LMS.
Resumés received represented highly qualified, faithful men who have served in numerous capacities throughout Southern Baptist life. We would be well served by any of these men.
Conversations continued with pastors, church planters, and many who have been involved in JBA ministry over the years. As we encountered engaged pastors and churches, we asked questions regarding what they believed should be our priority in filling the LMS position. To a person, each stated something to the effect of “Press on with the model of ministry we have now implemented. The E-teams are excellent, and the focus is right.” In other words, the JBA structure and focus that Rick Wheeler had led us to adopt was affirmed by those engaged well. A call to lead us to the next phase of ministry as a network was clear, building upon that which we currently have in place. Our JBA pastors and leaders affirmed our desire to not have a network that becomes stagnant or satisfied with status quo. The clear expectation of our next LMS is that he be a man who understands calling, leadership, coaching, church planting, revitalization, and missional engagement for our diverse city and region.
We believe God has led us to the man who will be our next Lead Missional Strategist. After numerous meetings and much prayer, we are unanimously recommending Bob Bumgarner to serve in this role.
Many of you know Bob as he has been part of our JBA family for years as a consultant, leadership coach, and visionary thinker. He was key in helping develop the concept of our current “E-Teams” and has been a participant in JBA initiatives as a pastoral staff member from a member church. He comes highly recommended by many, especially his own pastor Spike Hogan of Chets Creek Church. It should be noted that Spike “reluctantly recommended” Bob in that he currently serves so faithfully and well as Executive Pastor at Chets Creek. In my conversations with Spike prior to contacting Bob, it was clear that Bob is loved by his church and his pastor, and though Spike doesn’t relish him leaving his staff, he made it clear that we would be missing a great opportunity if we did not consider him. The city and our network would benefit greatly by having Bob in this role, according to Spike. Others have echoed this as well and your search team believes this to be the case.
For those who may not know Bob, here’s a brief bio:
Bob is married to Tina (over 35 years) and they are the proud parents of two adult children, Lauren (married to Gilbert) and Caleb (married to Kelly.) They have two grandchildren (Eli and Adalyn.)
He graduated in 1985 from Wichita State University with a Bachelor of Business Administration, majoring in Personnel Administration. He then attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary where he graduated in 1988 with a Master of Divinity.
He came to know the Lord as a young boy attending a church that would now be categorized as a “church plant.” At the time, he didn’t know it was a plant. He just knew that they had to set up and tear down every weekend. He is an Air Force kid, so during childhood he moved from place to place depending on where the Air Force transferred his father.
Over the years, Bob has served in local church and denominational roles. A quick rundown of his experience:
  • Pastor, Amanda Baptist Chapel in Middletown, Ohio (1988-1991)
  • Adjunct Professor, Boyce Bible College, Dayton, Ohio Extension (1990-1991)
  • Executive Pastor, Arlington Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida (1991-1997)
  • Adjunct Professor, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Jacksonville Extension (1994-1997)
  • Florida Baptist Convention Staff Member (1997-2014)
  • Lead Strategist, Church Health Group – Florida Baptist Convention (2007-2014)
  • Pastor and Staff Peer Learning Group Initiative – Started Office of Leadership Development for the Florida Baptist Convention (2004-2014)
  • North American Mission Board Leadership Consultant (2009-2013)
  • Professional Staff Coaching and Development (2004-present)
  • Organizational Church Coaching and Consulting (2004-present)
  • Executive Pastor, Chets Creek Church (2015-present)
Bob has also served on an interim basis as pastor in regional churches as well as a consultant and staff coach.
His work in pastoral coaching and leadership is clear. He carries the following certifications:
  • Building Powerful Ministry Teams: Certified Trainer – Team Resources
  • DISCernment Inventory: Certified Trainer – Team Resources
  • Natural Church Development: Certified Consultant – Church Smart Resources
  • Mastering the Art of Communication: Certified Trainer – Team Resources
  • Transforming Conflict – From Strife to Synergy: Certified Trainer – Team Resources
  • High Performance Meeting: Certified Trainer – Team Resources
  • Powerful Decision Making: Certified Trainer – Team Resources
  • Situational Leadership II: Qualified Trainer – Ken Blanchard Companies
  • CoachNet: Certified Coach Trainer – CoachNet
  • Lead Like Jesus: Master Trainer – Center for Faith Walk Leadership
  • WildWorks Results Based Conversation: Certified Trainer – WildWorks Group
  • Patterson Process: Certified Trainer – Strategic Operation Process
The experience, education, and references clearly show that Bob is qualified for the LMS position. Yet, more than a listing of high-quality bullet points, Bob Bumgarner is a humble, sincere, and faithful man of God. That is echoed by the many who know him, have served with him, and have been helped by him. We are thankful God has led him to us and us to him.
We asked “Of all the places where you have and could serve the Lord, why the Jacksonville Baptist Association? Why here? Why now?”
He answered, “Because local matters.” He expounded on that, clearly articulating that in Southern Baptist life it is clear that now, more than ever, the kingdom work that is lasting, relational, impactful, and engaging while assisted by our larger denominational entities will be primarily focused on the local networks and associations more than ever.
We are excited to see, pending the vote on February 20, how God is going to use Bob Bumgarner and our incredible JBA team to equip our churches, engage our city, and expand our reach for God’s glory and our good.
*See below a message from our JBA Moderator, Elijah Simmons.
David Tarkington
Lead Pastor
First Baptist of Orange Park
Hello Jacksonville Baptists,
The Lead Missional Strategist Search Team has identified Bob Bumgarner as the next LMS of the Jacksonville Baptist Association. We invite you to join us on February 20, 2020, at 12 Noon (at the JBA Offices) to hear from Bob about his Ministry journey as well as his vision for the JBA. After a time of questions and discussion we will have a vote of affirmation on Bob’s candidacy.
Following this session, the JBA Lead Team will convene for their regularly scheduled quarterly meeting, during which the official vote on Bob’s candidacy will take place.
These are exciting times for the Jacksonville Baptist Association. I look forward to seeing you on February 20th.
God Bless!
Elijah Simmons
Moderator, Jacksonville Baptist Association
Pastor, Norwood Community Church

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