Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Ed and Edith's Church - How to Mold Your Pastor
(If you are a long time reader of my blogging, you’ll remember Evangelical Ed and Edith. They are fictitious characters based on years of experience around American evangelicals – not just my years, but the years of others I’ve met. Their stories are real and happening across North America every week.)
After a long – 14 years - and what could be considered successful pastorate, Ed and Edith’s pastor is leaving – moving to a congregation nearer his elderly parents. During his tenure the church has not grown much, but neither has it suffered great loss. His philosophy has been “Don’t make waves”, and so, being quite the politician, he carefully avoided the pitfalls that plague so many in his position.
When he was called to their church he was told by the board that their expectations were for him to visit the sick, visit the membership, preach the sermons and attend board meetings as an ex officio member. To them that Latin term mean, “You can interact, but you have no power or authority to make decisions”. Because Ed is a respected business man in the community, he has served multiple terms on the board.
Ed likes the new pastor. So does Edith. At least that’s what they say. Yet she is the first to make critical remarks on the ride home Sunday after church about the sermon, or how his children were dressed, or that somehow he neglected to notice her new coat. Edith remarks to Ed that this young minister has some things to learn. And she’ll see to it that he is properly schooled.
At first the young pastor was a bit frustrated when he attempted to suggest new ideas for ministry or outreach. But because he needed this job, he learned quickly not to assert himself too strongly. Quickly he discovered that behind the smiles of those listening to his new ideas were the power brokers dissing him. Not so subtly he was told that he should leave all those things to others. After all, pastors are not all that hard to replace. So before long he finds himself a chaplain to a flock expecting him to give them good pats on the shoulder and complimenting the ladies on their fine chicken salads and pecan pie as he visits for lunch.
In the mean time, the neighborhood around their church is growing. New homes are being built rapidly, bringing in new, young families, a new elementary school and a new mall. Yet, Ed and Edith’s church fails to grow with the community.
It’s not that the occasional new family doesn’t come to visit, but as they look around they don’t see anyone like them. The church has grown older, but they’ve been well cared for by their pastor. If they sneeze in church on Sunday, he’s at their house on Monday to pray for the sick.
In a business meeting someone once suggested that perhaps they should consider hiring an associate pastor to minister to young people. But, someone else countered, "How can we afford that?". The roof would need replacement in a few years and you never knew when the furnace was going to give out. And shouldn’t we think about putting new padding on the pews? No, there just wasn’t the money to think of additional staffing.
Then came the Sunday when Pastor announced his resignation. Although there was sadness, the church understood the need to move closer to his parents. After all, most of them now were his parents’ age, and could easily relate. Immediately the board assembled a pastor search committee. Edith was voted in! She was confident she knew exactly what to look for in a minister; so confident, in fact, that the committee selected her to be the chairperson.
At the first committee meeting she quickly suggested (after being given the gavel) that the best bang for the buck would be to bring in a new seminary graduate. His inexperience won’t demand much salary, which would allow for the new flower beds to be tended seasonally. But more importantly, being wet behind the ears, he will be teachable. And Edith knows how to mold a pastor.
So the search begins. The future of the church, as envisioned by Ed and Edith, looks bright.
You can read my previous posts on Ed and Edith. Look for the label to the right that says, "Evangelical Ed and Edith".
Disclaimer: I have no idea who those people in the picture really are, but I found it and it looks like it came from a church pictorial directory. They look like nice people, just like Ed and Edith.