One of the larger issues in my church politics series is that of pastoral changes. I have been through two transitions and have taken note. It really should be expected that if you go through changes in less than flattering ways…a person is going to talk about it. The biggest lesson I have learned through these changes is when the pastor leaving or a board asks a staff member to become the “interim pastor” they in fact really don’t mean it.
When a person pastors a church they make decisions. It is assumed they will do what is best for the church and not have to run everything through the board. The church that makes their pastor run every decision through the board is a board that needs to resign and get new people so the pastor can truly pastor that church. Do you wonder why a church tends to repeat it’s history? Look at what remains the constant through the changes. It isn’t the pastor because they are coming and going. Perhaps one should look at the board. What I have discovered though in my own experiences and hearing many others is that when a board wants an “interim pastor”…what they really want is an “interim speaker.” I cannot quite figure this one out however. I have two thoughts that are strictly my opinion. The first would be the board sees this as their time to make the church what THEY want it to be and therefore will not allow a staff member to make decisions (I have a letter in my archive to prove this point). My second opinion is the pastor that left is still pastoring that church. One of the classes I took to become a pastor is “Ministerial Ethics.” In this book it talks about when a pastor leaves they are to sever ties in a controlling way. That does not always happen. This makes the next pastor or interim pastor’s job one that causes staff members become very disgruntled. Keep in mind this is political; to the average church goer…they will know nothing about this. It usually is the staff that knows about this but either won’t say anything about it or are just too afraid to say something about it. This happens all the time and I know of one such instance as I am writing this blog.
It really is a vicious political game isn’t it? If a church goes through transition…you can only hope and pray that it is done ethically. If your church is going through change and you are a member of that church and left wondering what is going on….you have every right to ask, question, etc. If you are a staff member and going through something like this currently, use wisdom. This may be a time that a private agenda is going on and if you are “bad for business” because of your popularity or outspoken views…..you can expect to find another position. Roll with what is going on and everything will be fine, buck the system, question, ask…basically try to have some kind of input and you can expect to find a new position.