Lead Pastor Apprenticeship
Ted Coniaris has been named the Lead Pastor Apprentice at COMMUNITY, with the intent to assume the role of Lead Pastor in May 2025. In 2025, our current Lead Pastor, Dave Ferguson, will transition to the position of Co-Founding Pastor, joining his brother Jon Ferguson, who currently serves as a Co-Founding Pastor.
Frequently Asked Questions
Dave, Jon, and Ted all remain in their current roles, without change to their responsibilities. As Ted progresses through the apprenticeship, he will shadow Dave as the Lead Pastor. For example, the church will likely begin hearing updates from both leaders – Dave and Ted. To be clear, Dave remains the Lead Pastor until May 2025.
Dave and Jon Ferguson started COMMUNITY in 1989 with a three-fold vision to be:
- An Impact Church – one that would reach people who are far from God and have a lasting impact on the local community.
- A Reproducing Church – one that would multiply and start new locations and churches
- A Catalyst for a Movement – one that would catalyze church multiplication across the globe.
COMMUNITY continues pursuing that vision and fulfilling its kingdom-minded mission of “helping people find their way back to God” even today. That vision led COMMUNITY to launch NewThing in 2001, a church-planting mission to help churches multiply disciples, leaders, churches, networks, and movements worldwide. In addition, COMMUNITY leaders have been blessed with the opportunity to be a part of Exponential, a global mission committed to accelerating the multiplication of healthy, reproducing faith communities.
Upon prayer and reflection, Dave felt called by God to focus his next leadership journey with NewThing and Exponential while continuing as a co-founding pastor – more on that below in the Q&A.
Jon also has leadership roles with NewThing and Exponential and will continue in these roles as co-founding pastor. Ted, Jon, and the rest of COMMUNITY’s Lead Team are well-equipped to continue leading COMMUNITY in its next season as a church.
COMMUNITY’s bylaws state that the Leadership Commission selects and hires the succeeding Lead Pastor, but will consider the current Lead Pastor’s recommendation significantly. Dave, Jon, and the remainder of the Lead Team recommended Ted Coniaris to the Leadership Commission as the next Lead Pastor.
Leadership Commission initiated a thorough process anchored in the belief that what is best for God’s kingdom is best for COMMUNITY. The process included detailed assessments, interviews, and evaluations. Leadership Commission ultimately decided that Ted is the Lead Pastor Apprentice, with the intent to become the Lead Pastor in May 2025.
The Leadership Commission is composed of the lead pastor of COMMUNITY and between 7-12 non-staff attenders of the church who exemplify the Leadership Expectations of COMMUNITY. Our Leadership Commission oversees the doctrine, discipline, and direction of Community Christian Church. The Leadership Commission serves in the biblical role of “elders” and functionally serves as COMMUNITY’s “board of directors” from an organizational perspective.
Ted joined COMMUNITY’s staff team in 2017 as a Leadership Resident (Apprentice Community Pastor), to be equipped to launch our Downers Grove location. During this apprenticeship, Ted developed and led a launch team that included people from several COMMUNITY locations and people in the Downers Grove area looking for a church home.
Ted has led the Downers Grove Campus exceptionally well. This location now includes eight full-time and part-time staff, more than 1200 people calling COMMUNITY their church home, and almost 30 small groups. In 2021, COMMUNITY purchased and remodeled a new Downers Grove Facility. Hundreds of people have found their way back to God over the past five years, and many have said yes to Jesus in baptism at this location.
Ted has also overseen COMMUNITY’s Expression Leaders for several years. (Locations, Community Freedom, Community Online and MicroChurches). As a result of God’s goodness and Ted’s leadership, our Community Pastors and leaders have continued to reproduce the mission of COMMUNITY.
Apprenticeship is the primary way COMMUNITY develops leaders at every level. There are five steps of apprenticeship:
- I Do. You Watch. We Talk.
- I Do. You Help. We Talk.
- You Do. I Help. We Talk.
- You Do. I Watch. We Talk.
- You Do. Someone else Watches,
This process repeats as the apprentice begins to lead, and a new apprentice begins these five steps. Ted will be the “Lead Pastor Apprentice” to Dave. Part 1 is focused on Ted “watching and helping” and Dave “doing.” Part 2 will be Ted “doing” and Dave “watching and helping,” until May 2025 when Ted becomes the Lead Pastor.
COMMUNITY has had only one Lead Pastor and the founders, Dave and Jon Ferguson have led COMMUNITY from the very beginning. In light of that and because COMMUNITY has multiple expressions and locations, it was determined by the Leadership Commission along with the Lead Team that a comprehensive apprenticeship would provide the best transition for Ted as the new Lead Pastor.
No. Until May 2025, Dave remains the Lead Pastor and Ted is the Lead Pastor Apprentice along with fulfilling his current responsibilities as the Community Pastor at our Downers Grove location and Expressions Leader.
All staff report to their respective organizational leaders and the Lead Pastor. For example, Ted reports to Dave who is the Lead Pastor. In May 2025, after Ted formally becomes the Lead Pastor, the Lead Team and co-founding pastors (Dave and Jon Ferguson) will report to the new Lead Pastor (Ted Coniaris).
Dave will continue to attend COMMUNITY as a regular and active attender. He is not retiring. Instead, Dave will transition the responsibilities of Lead Pastor to Ted Coniaris. In his co-founding pastor role, Dave’s focus will include activities such as teaching and coaching. Additionally, he will spend substantial time leading NewThing and Exponential, two key partners of COMMUNITY.
Jon will continue to attend COMMUNITY as a regular and active attender. Jon is already in the role of co-founding pastor so there is no change to his focus, which currently includes teaching, coaching, providing leadership for generosity initiatives, and his leadership responsibilities with NewThing and Exponential.
Ted, his wife Melissa and their three boys (Josh-13, Paul-11, and Elijah-8) live in Downers Grove and will not be moving as part of this change.
Ted will continue to teach, and their family will attend the Downers Grove location as regular and active attenders. Even though Ted will still have a significant presence in Downers Grove, his current role as the Community Pastor will eventually need to be filled after an extensive search to ensure we continue the momentum and growth we have seen over the last five years. The timing of that replacement is anticipated to be 2025 but will be determined by COMMUNITY’s Lead Team as part of an overall 3-5 year strategy.
No. Our mission of “helping people find their way back to God” and our three-fold vision remain the central focus of our church.
While we can’t speak for each staff person, the response so far has been overwhelmingly positive. If you have a question about how a particular staff person feels about this transition, we encourage you to ask them in a spirit of unity and encouragement.
We are not aware of any staff who have decided to leave because of this transition.