On March 6, 1935, the Evangelical Community Church was organized as a denominationally and ecumenically independent body. Within sixteen months the name was changed to First Evangelical Church.
The church has gone through seasons of long-term Senior Pastors and seen God provide in times between Pastors as well. The church has been blessed with a solid base of congregants who have called First Evan home for many many years.
The congregation moved to their current location in1976. The building footprint has increased through the years since including a multi-purpose facility to house a gymnasium, kitchen, library and additional classroom space. The current facility opened in February 1998.
Cole Huffman joined the pastoral staff at First Evan in April, 2003 as the Pastor of Adult Ministries. In August of 2007, he was called to be the Senior Pastor of First Evangelical Church.
Prior to COVID-19 the church averaged 850 in attendance for Sunday services in a blended service for this multi-generational Church.
Cole (Senior Pastor) and Lynn have five children: Caleb, Helen, Holly, Caley Kate and Colson. He and Lyne also have one grandson. A graduate of the University of North Alabama, his theological training was at Dallas Theological Seminary (ThM, 1995) and Beeson Divinity School (DMin, 2010). Cole has served First Evangelical Church in Memphis, Tennessee, since 2003. He also serves on the faculty of Union University’s Memphis College of Urban Theological Studies.
In his down time, he enjoys reading and hitting a trail on his bike.
Cole focuses on preaching and teaching. He is also involved in citywide, multiethnic senior pastor networks, and many of those friendships existed before social unrest became a hot topic. Cole is accessible to the staff by keeping his office door open on a regular basis. He is a conservative, but not a fundamentalist. He is not afraid to challenge people’s thinking and upset the status quo.
Taylor Park, serves as the Execuitve Pastor and leads the staff team. He is the jack-of-all-trades type of guy and knows at least a little about a whole lot of things, and has experience in many different ministry areas (originally came to the church as a Youth Pastor in 1991). He is not a micro-managager, but sets a high standard for all the staff to stride towards. The staff team say that he is highly encouraging; he looks to create an environment where each team member bring his or her own gifts/skills to build up the church.
This new Student Pastor will report direct to Taylor.
The church is governed by a board of elders.
First Evan Student Ministries seek to create inviting and engaging environments for those in middle school and high school. They seek to grow deep in their faith while growing broad in relationships - to be a place where all are welcome and get connected. They do this through both large and small group environments on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. The Pastor of Student Ministries gives oversight to all of the ministries from 6th through 12th grade.
A primary aim for the student ministry is to create an environment where all students are met, cared for and loved by leaders who show Jesus' love to them. FEC Student Ministry leaders seek to remain present in the lives of students outside of the program by engaging in discipleship and life-on-life relationships.
First Evan is equipped with great resources to create environments for all to have a blast. With dedicated youth spaces, a full gymnasium, a generous youth budget and ALL of the advantages of living in a picturesque region the ministry has no shortage of opportunity for games, activitie, outreach and adventures.
In everything that FEC does, Jesus is at the center. The Student Ministry settings are all geared toward making the story of God known in relevant and applicable ways. The teaching and modeling of God's Word is a key way leadership seeks to make Jesus known to unchurched youth and grow those who do know Jesus.
Because the ministry is built around relationships there is a sense of stability and hope for the overall student ministry department. However, the High School ministry is certainly feeling the need for change and improvement. The outgoing Sr. High Director (served for five years) served well and gained momentum the first couple years and helped build a relational culture of trust. However, the ministry stagnated in the year or so prior to COVID-19 and then lost a sense of culture and community through this last year. A fresh start is needed.
However, the middle school ministry has only gained momentum and a sense of community throughout the pandemic. The new leader comes into a healthy staff context and the ministry is poised for growth.
The new Student Pastor will have a tremendous opportunity to usher in a new revitalized era of Student Ministry. He will have a great platform on which to build. People will be rooting for him and want to see him succeed.
First Evan highly esteems and takes care of the pastoral staff. This is evidenced in an average current tenure at the pastoral level of 18 years!
Speaking specifically to staffing in the Student Ministry lane, there is a full-time Middle School Director and a part-time Middle School Girl’s Coordinator. The church had a full-time Senior High Director and has a part-time Senior High Girls Coordinator. With the departure of the Senior High Director, the church has chosen to bring on this new role of Student Ministries Pastor, who will give oversight of all Student Ministries but work directly with the Sr. High students as his direct ministry.
There is a part-time admin for this department as well. The team is a sharp group who relationally connect well, but long for more vision, direction and development.
First Evan has a small base of lay leaders serving in the Student Ministry-- these leaders are liked and trusted. However, those leaders express a desire for greater training and accountability for their expanding shepherding role in the lives of students. The team is small and a sense of community needs to be established in order for this leadership base to grow.
The church has a robust Educational hour (Sunday School) based around different generations in the church. In some ways these groups compete with the opportunity for volunteers to serve at the same hour their class may be offered.
The new Student Pastor should take the time to build community and trust while serving the team with practical training for discipling the students in one-on-one, small group and larger group settings and then grow the team through inviting others into this vibrant leadership community.
The Middle School and High School Ministry meet on Sunday mornings (more "growth/discipleship oriented) and Wednesday night (more outreach/connnection oriented). The new leader, after assessing the ministry, should re-envision the methodology of ministry, especially for high school programming so that both ministries feel like the programs have been built specifically for them. Outside of Sunday and Wednesday there is tremendous opportunity to create unique events for both age groups through outreach, service and growth level ministries.
The current Student Ministry culture could be described as mostly churched-youth. The church has a mix of home-school, public school and private school students (middle school may lean a little more private/home school and high school more toward public school).
First Evangeical Church places a high-priority on reaching those who don't yet know Jesus. The desire is to have a Student Pastor who understands the balance in ministry between maturing the believer and reaching unchurched youth. The new leader should not only be a person who desires to reach the local campuses, but has the ability to empower other leaders to do the same.
The Pastor of Student Ministries is responsible to give proactive, visionary leadership to the student (Grades 6-12) ministries of the church. He will be a catalyst for the ongoing development of the Senior High and Middle School ministries with direct responsibility for Senior High and oversight responsibility for Middle School.
The successful candidate will have:
The primary shepherding responsibilities are three-fold.
Pastoral: Develop teens who are coming to and maturing in Christ.
Parental: Mobilize and equip parents for effective ministry to their teens.
Program: Provide programs, both on and off campus, that are attractive, winsome, and God-honoring.
2. Oversight Responsibilities: (Middle School and Senior High).
The Pastor of Student Ministries is responsible to oversee the whole of Middle School and Senior High student ministry through oversight of the Middle School Director and the adult lay-ministry team.
Middle School Director
Adult Lay Ministry Team