I’d like to say a hearty “thank you,” to all of you, once again, for giving up a Thursday evening for this church family meeting. We understand that all of us are extremely busy with a lot of commitments: work, family, and so forth, but this is important church business that we need to face head-on as a church family.
In the interests of time, then, let’s dive straight into the issues that we on the Leadership Team have come here to discuss with you tonight. To cut to the chase, it’s time for another significant vote, and we believe it’s highly important that every one of you in this church family has their say in the matter. The Bible indicates that church unity is highly important, after all.
I’ll just take a minute to bring us all up to speed on what’s been going on around the church here. As you’re all aware, it’s been six months since we—regrettably, of course—had to make the extremely painful decision to terminate Pastor John. For six years, he’s been our Senior Pastor, and has worked tirelessly to shepherd this flock, and to grow this church. He’d done a fantastic job for years, and it was truly unfortunate that at the end of his tenure here, he became involved in some strange, progressive theology. He also developed some truly hare-brained ideas about leading the church, and kind of turned into a bit of a tyrant, which goes against what the Bible teaches about how a pastor should act as a servant leader.
Sadly, we had no choice but to let him go—actually, we released him to greener pastures. We believe that ultimately we did him a favor in giving him the left foot of fellowship, truly.
Since he left, however, there’s no denying that it’s been a trying, and difficult, six months without a pastor to take care of our church. Unfortunately, because of the lack of leadership, we must report that a few families have left. When we asked them why they felt they needed to go, the common thread was this: they felt that without a pastor, their spiritual needs weren’t being met. Most of them ended up at the big church downtown, which has a lot of great ministries that we just can’t compete with right now. Truthfully, we can’t blame them for that decision; that’s what having a pastor is all about, isn’t it? We wish them all the best.
And of course, I need to state—in the interests of transparency and authenticity, which are biblical values—that some of those who left felt that we had not been entirely fair with Pastor John regarding the way we had to let him go. But these people were most likely disgruntled beforehand anyway, so we say “good riddance” to them. We don’t want troublemakers around this church anyway, do we? Of course we don’t. That’s something the Bible talks about, and it only leads to division and disunity in the long run. Speaking personally, I’d say that they were nothing more than “wolves in sheep’s clothing,” so God has helped us to root these complainers straight out of his church. They clearly don’t understand what a pastor’s role is.
Speaking of pastors, there’s a bit of an update for you all, in case you’ve been wondering how our former senior pastor has been doing these last six months. Coincidentally enough, someone from the church ran into ex-Pastor John downtown just the other day. Apparently, although he and his family had a difficult time finding a place to live at first, they’re all settled into a nice apartment now. He’s making a decent living driving a taxi, too; he also mentioned that he’s taking a break from full-time ministry.
We sincerely trust and pray that God will see fit to usher him back into the ministry fold soon, in order that he can bless some other church out there somewhere. That is, of course, if he jettisons his crazy ideas that we had to fire him for! But in the end, as I was saying a minute ago, we on the Leadership Team truly believe we did him a great favor by cutting him loose.
Who knows, but maybe this time away from ministry will be a welcome break! In a way, it’s more or less become that unpaid sabbatical that we kept trying to get him to take! I’m sure he could use the time off. So, all things considered, we think it’s more than fair to state that in the end, things worked out well: for both our church and our former senior pastor. God is clearly in control of his church, after all.
Now that the updates are out of the way, let’s get down to the business at hand. We’ve had a couple of developments since Pastor John left, and therefore this is the reason that we’re meeting here tonight since once again. Once again, it’s decision time for our church family. If you recall from our last meeting,where we informed you about having to terminate Pastor John, we didn’t let the grass grow under our feet in the search for a new senior pastor. But despite our best efforts to locate one, it’s been difficult, and frankly exhausting. Who knew it would be such hard work to find a suitable candidate?
It’s truly puzzling to try and understand why we can’t seem to find somebody–anybody--to take on such a great job as our pastor. After all, there are thousands graduating from Bible colleges and seminaries across the country each year, but we’re struggling to get one godly man who wants to take on our church. What are they teaching these graduates, anyway? Maybe they all want cushy jobs; perhaps they’d rather take it easy by working at mega-churches. You know, like the big church downtown, that so many of our families ended up going to after they bailed out on us.
Perhaps it’s all about the money; you know, the large salaries that these massive churches are offering, that of course we small churches simply can’t compete with. It seems to me–and this is just my opinion–that most of these so-called “ministers” today just aren’t interested in biblical concepts such as: the hard work of ministry; preaching from the Bible; servant leadership and outreach to the community—you know, the core values, taken from the Bible, that our beloved church stands for.
Anyway, as I was saying, even though we put a steering committee together straight away after Pastor John left, and got the word out in various Christian magazines and ministry websites, as you know, we haven’t been able to find a suitable candidate to be our new pastor. While it’s true that a handful of applicants sent in resumes and CVs over the last few months, as I’ve been saying, unfortunately we’ve just not been able to zero in on anybody. This is due to a variety of reasons. According to the standards the Steering Committee agreed on ahead of time, some candidates didn’t have enough ministry experience; a few were lacking in the amount, or quality, of theological education for our liking. In other words, there were a couple who had graduated from we might term “liberal seminaries,” and we didn’t want a repeat of the whole Pastor John scenario.
And on that subject, can you believe it? One likely-looking candidate, when we contacted him, actually had the gall to say he wanted his name withdrawn from our consideration. When we asked him why, he said he’d heard a rumor that we were a “difficult” church, with a reputation for burning out pastors! We told him in no uncertain terms that we wouldn’t want to hire him anyway, because clearly he’s afraid of a little hard work and serving! We don’t want a pastor like that around here, do we? Of course not.
So, once we’d weeded out the obvious rejects, the remaining few candidates just didn’t seem like a good fit, so we’ve not even selected any of them to be shortlisted. Why waste time and money bringing them up here to spend a weekend candidating when it’s clear they wouldn’t work out? We must be good stewards of God’s kingdom resources, after all. Plus, to be completely honest with you, we on the Leadership Team are a bit wary, as you can imagine—we’ve had to dismiss the last two pastors we’ve had, and we don’t want a repeat of that!
We maintain that God would have us to be cautious, as good overseers of his church; you can’t let just anybody take over, and so the vetting process should be done right. We’re only going to get one shot at the next senior pastor, so we are proceeding with extreme caution, as we truly believe we should.
Voting Option 1
Now that we’ve gotten all the updates out of the way, on to business, which of course is the point of this meeting tonight. We need to decide on which direction the church should go. To that end, we’re facing two possible choices, and we would like you all prayerfully to cast your vote for which one you believe is best for this church going forward. The first option to vote on is this: one, that we should keep doing what we’re already doing. We preserve the Steering Committee, keep getting the word out there, and continue the search for a new senior pastor for our church. We can update those advertisements we placed in various places: Christian magazines and websites. We’ll update those contacts we made a few months ago with some of the more theologically sound Christian Bible colleges and seminaries, and trust and pray that God will bring us the right man (and his wife!) for the job. That is the first possibility; and may I just add a personal note—I think that this option has a lot going for it, despite the difficulties we’ve encountered so far.
Now before I give you the second choice you can vote on, I’d like to say also that it wasn’t even on the radar screen for us on the leadership council. The other night at our monthly Leadership Team meeting, we were all trying to think “outside the box” as to what we should do, and somebody came up with this idea. When we first heard the concept, we were all pretty sceptical, but the more we thought about it, the more it seemed like it just might work. We’ll let you good folks decide in the end, though.
Voting Option 2
OK, so now that I’ve give you the context behind how it came to be, here’s the second option that you can vote on for our church. You may be surprised to hear that even though the tithing has been down a bit since Pastor John left, no doubt due to those families that left, there’s a surprising fact: despite the decrease in numbers, we’ve nonetheless managed to accumulate a nice little nest egg of funds. This is because, of course, we haven’t been paying any pastor’s salary for the last six months! So here’s the second possibility you can vote on: we don’t hire a new senior pastor at all. I can see by the surprised looks on your faces that this sounds like a crazy idea, but let me explain why we would even entertain the idea. Just as with any decision in life, there are both negatives and positives attached to this option. We’ll look at the negatives first.
Negatively, of course, if we don’t hire a pastor, this means we won’t have anybody to take care of the church and act as its shepherd, just as Pastor John did so faithfully for many years. Unfortunately, he went off the rails a bit at the end, but that’s of course why we had to let him go.
Not having a pastor to take care of a lot of things, this second option would obviously mean that some of you will have no choice but to step up, and take on certain responsibilities around here; much as that may sound disagreeable to you.
It’s no secret that there’s a lot of things that have fallen through the cracks since Pastor John left. For example, the Sunday services have been somewhat of a struggle, as you’re all aware. In other words, if we choose this second option, it’ll mean that we’ll all need to pick up the slack and take on a lot of the responsibilities that Pastor John used to handle without a single complaint. Of course, it was what we paid him for, and he was always happy to get everything done in the course of his normal sixty-hour work week, like the servant leader he was. Or should I say, “used to be.”
Therefore, since we won’t have a pastor to bring the sermon every Sunday, some of you are going to have to learn how to preach from the Bible; others of you will have to lead the weeknight Bible studies Pastor John used to handle; and we’ll need somebody to step up and take on the Youth Group. Also, some of you will have to take care of the many tasks left in Pastor John’s absence: you know, jobs like mowing the lawn, balancing the books and paying the bills, cleaning and maintaining the church regularly, and so forth. We know this will be hard work, but trust us—there’s an end in sight!
I know of one possible person who might be willing to be a great example of a servant: Chuck, I know you had expressed the desire to get involved around the church a few years ago. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, we weren’t able to make it happen. Well, now maybe this is your chance to put some of your skills to the test. We’ll talk after the meeting, shall we? Great.
While all of that might seem like bad news, there’s an upside to not appointing a new senior pastor, however. Look at it this way: positively, if we don’t hire a pastor, we can save the money that we would normally be using for his salary each month, as we’re already doing. What can we do with these funds? Well, we can put them to good use for God’s kingdom, of course! For one thing, we can finally take care of some of those nagging problems we’ve had for years around the building here. You all know what we’re talking about—we receive complaints from most of you on a regular basis about these issues. With that money, just imagine what we could do: new carpeting in the sanctuary, reupholster those old wooden pews, or even buy a new (or at least newer) organ for our longsuffering Mrs Glick to play on Sunday mornings! Ever since Pastor John and his wife left, dear Mrs Glick has done a wonderful job of playing, but with her arthritis, it’s a lot to ask of her, isn’t it?
And here’s another pressing problem that we haven’t been able to take care of. Even though Pastor John and his wife did a pretty good job of it, all those years ago, there’s another issue that we hear regular complaints about. Nobody can deny that the exterior of the church building is looking rough, and it’s gotten worse over the years. What we’re thinking is this: with some of that money we’d be saving by not paying a pastor, we could do a lot of great things. For example, we could hire someone to paint the exterior of the building, and pay somebody to do some landscaping to the grounds; you know, generally tidy up the place.
There’s one final element I need to mention—and here is the best news of all: if there’s enough money left over after these projects are done, we could finally have that stained-glass window made! I know it’s been a lofty ambition of most of you here to have a beautiful window installed, just behind the pulpit. In fact, we’ve all been dreaming about such a wonderful thing for years, but what with paying Pastor John a generous salary, we simply couldn’t free up the funds. But now we absolutely could! What a wonderful thought.
Here’s what I’m driving at: with this second option, essentially, the possibilities are endless. Just imagine with me how this old building could be transformed. If we did that, it’s easy to visualize what would happen next: we’d most likely start getting more people coming in from the community, and joining our church.
Truly, it would be a case of God’s kingdom finances well spent, if you ask me; but of course, that’s just my opinion. I wouldn’t want to sway anyone’s vote unfairly, of course.
Time to Vote!
Alright, in a minute we’re going to call for a vote on these two options. But before we vote, we’d just like to add our best wishes to Jim and Sarah, who are trying to raise funds right now for a new ministry they hope to start up soon: refurbishing derelict houses downtown to help house the homeless. We prayerfully believe that our loving and bountiful God will supply all their needs, as the Bible states.
Oh, and while we’re on the subject, one last thing to mention before we vote–make sure and generously support the youth group for their upcoming mission trip too. Please come out this Saturday to their car wash—and bring your dirty car too! At this point, they’re only about a third of the way through raising the necessary money for their trip. It would truly be a shame, but if they can’t raise enough funds in time, the trip will have to be cancelled. Wouldn’t that be disappointing? It certainly would.
Let’s all come together to prayerfully trust that God will provide all their needs in time.
Okay, is everybody ready to vote? Have you all got your voting card, and a pen or a pencil? Great.
Let’s get started then…