Monday, May 17, 2010

But God's leading...isn't He?

I'll toss this question out into the blogosphere in hopes it bounces around a bit and comes back to me in the form of an answer.

Suppose a church body spends two years searching for a new pastor. This particular church has a proud history of serving the city, community, and neighborhood.

After 35 years of faithful service, their beloved bigger-than-life pastor died several years ago. In their grief, the congregation acted quickly to replace him (not that he was replaceable). The right man turned out to not be the right guy after all. The past decade has been turbulent, and a few pastors have come and gone—taking family members with them, and leaving sadness in their place.

So, the search committee takes its time. 800 attendees fill out extensive surveys. They answer a myriad of questions about the “right” pastor, including questions about what they were looking for in his education, preaching style, family, etc...

In addition, the survey participants are asked to share their thoughts on the use of music and the arts in the church. Once all the answers from 5-page questionnaire are processed, a sketch of the new “right” guy emerges.

The search committee combs over the many applications that come in from all over the country. They follow up on all the leads. The new pastor is found—at last.

So, a year after the new pastor is installed, he’s taking the church in a completely different direction than the one he was hired to take. He admits it. He believes God has given him a new directive.

And now, the question…

At what point does the congregation get up out of the pew and start asking questions—and expect answers? How long do they say, “God brought this man to us and we will trust that God has a plan”? Does the church body have the right to question the new path, especially after pouring so much of their heart and soul into the search process, or do they keep on trusting?

My personal feeling is that there is never enough open communication from Pastor to congregation. Church leaders are often given carte blanche to take whatever road looks the loveliest. Total control can give way to pride, which can break a man and the flock that was entrusted to him.

So…Preacher! Get off podium, and let the light of transparency shine into your plans. And, parishioners…get off the pew and shake away your fear. He’s just a man. It’s okay to question his decisions (at least it should be). Get off the pew!

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