A few thoughts occur to me as we post our articles about hiring a minister.
The first of them is spurred by an e-mail that came in response to an article that appeared this summer. I’ll paraphrase in order to protect the identity of the letter writer:
I am a new minister fresh out of seminary in 2009. I took on a small church in my first pastorate, and in a little more than a year I was asked to leave. . . . Now my family and I are trying to find our next ministry while being forced to move out of this church’s parsonage by the end of the month. So far, no doors have been opened enough for us to know what we’re to do, so we are praying hard that in 16 days something will happen.
The writer went on to say thanks for an article that had encouraged him in the midst of this struggle. And while that is gratifying, I can’t help but grieve over the situation this idealistic young man finds himself in.
Of course, this doesn’t tell us the whole story. We don’t know enough to decide who’s “right” here and who’s “wrong” or whether he deserves to be fired.
(I do wonder, however, in situations like this: Do those with the power to dismiss a minister have adult children employed by someone else? Are they treating the minister the way they hope other employers are treating their children?)
The more basic issue surrounds the issue of hiring. If this church had followed the careful procedures outlined in last week’s issue and this one, wouldn’t everyone have had a clearer idea of the commitment they were making to each other? Wouldn’t the candidate have discovered the church leaders’ nonnegotiables? And wouldn’t they have learned the path he thought the church should follow?
Maybe not. But we can think of many difficult situations that could have been prevented—in larger churches as well as smaller—simply by following the careful, straightforward path our writers have described.
Which leads me to another thought: I’m so glad these articles are in print, and so pleased they will stay easily accessible for hiring committees to use in the future.
Remember, the hiring articles in this and last week’s issues are now available in a convenient download. Order “Hiring a New Minister,” item number 025470510DL, from the Standard Publishing Web site (www.standardpub.com). It contains all this material in one easy-to-use package.