God's Place in the Clergy Search

"Our historic urban church was at a crossroads, as many urban churches have been. There was a division in the congregation between older and younger members. Older members had fond memories from when they were young adults in the 1950s of a prestigious, country-club-like family church. Newer members were mostly young urban professionals, many single, interested in social justice issues.

"We all fell victim to the heresy of consumerism, thinking that the religion ought to change itself to suit our desires, when in fact we should have been willing to be transformed by God. Now that I look back on it, I can see that we basically left God out of the process.

"In the end, the younger generation's candidate was elected. But unwilling to accept defeat, the older generation schemed to have the election invalidated. The poor young pastor who had been elected had already announced his resignation to his other congregation. He was left in a horribly embarrassing position.

"Many years later now, the parish in question is a struggling shadow of its former self. However, the young pastor was called to another parish in a nearby diocese, where I am now a member, along with my best friend from the staff of that other place. Our new parish is vibrant, with a congregation who warmly embrace all who come through the door; it is better than it could ever have been at the former parish."--resonance

"I was on a search committee last year. My advice...give the Holy Spirit lots of room to work. Pray and pray and pray for your new candidate. I believe God has already chosen the person and the search will be a time of discernment for all involved."

Choosing a Bad Preacher

"Some years ago our Unitarian Universalist church needed a new minister. The Search Committee did all the legwork, then invited their nominee to meet the congregation and give two sermons. They were pretty awful sermons, dry, boring, like term papers! Little did I know that this candidate had already been decided upon by the Search Committee (i think this is true in most UU churches). The vote was a mere formality... He has turned out to be a fine minister in other ways, but he still can't preach his way out of a paper bag!"

Reinstilling Confidence

"Somtimes it seems after unending searches thru bible-college lists, letters mailed out and many hours searching thru the resumes submitted that there are lots of good candidates, but if you are in the position of living in a rural area with limited resources, the candidates with the best qualifications are not available to you. That leaves you with choosing from those willing to work for less... The young people are looking for youth oriented. The "mature" people are looking for someone like they always had. Some churches call for a very high percentage affirmitive vote to call a minister. It seems like it can go on for ever.

"Recently I have been a member of a church where I am not in the inner circle. They went thru this for over a year. Finally the chairman of the board got tired of looking and actually went before the congregation and declared that the candidate was going to be selected. It was a very poor choice and has actually split the church. That board member is no longer attending church and It is a real challange to re-instill any kind of confidence in our church in my small rural community. It takes lots of faith and love and christian committment by those left to get it back."

No Such Thing as a 'Perfect' Pastor

"I am not trying to be facetious but when has anyone found the 'perfect' pastor?... Truth of the matter is...that there are none. Pastors are men just like the rest of us.

"We ought to remember that the next time we expect him to perform perfectly. Time spent criticizing him might be better spent in prayer for the awesome task he performs. He is simply a person who has a devine call trying to the best of his ability to carry out his commission. Many times he makes mistakes. Most of the time he does a good job. "I am a member of a church that has 'run off' 3 out of the last 4 pastors it has had. Most of the stuff that they were discharged for was ridiculous. We have a 'reputation' among ministers of our faith...that we can not keep a pastor. I am thoroughly digusted with the deacons whose responsibility it is in our denomination to try and work dificulties out with the pastor. They have failed to do their job and the whole church suffers. They have 'fought' or opposed the pastor over minor differences. The church that follows that course of action loses its 'witness' among the 'lost'...or unbelievers."I still hold membership there but my wife and I have not been attending...we have been looking around for somewhere else to worship. But you know something...it seems to be common now days to 'run the pastor off for the stupidest things'. We are really disgusted with the whole business. It seems those in authority...namely the deacons simply do not have a clue to the damage they do not only to the pastor and his family but also to others in the congregation.