"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Friday, November 01, 2013

My Reply to an Odd Pastor Search Committee Letter

{Note: I've gone back and forth over the last few days debating whether or not to publish this post. I do so for others since any good derived for me was accomplished by simply writing it}.

I received a letter a few days ago addressed to "Rev. Burleson" from the chairman of the Pastor Search Committee of a large SBC church in Texas. The letter, filled with spiritual platitudes, informed me of four things:

(1). The Pastor Search Committee of  had spent 'hours in prayer together' and were confident that God had a plan for their church.
(2). The Pastor Search Committee respectfully informed me that their "pastor search will take us in a different direction at this time."
(3). The Pastor Search Committee had decided to drop me from consideration and to move forward with candidates who "more closely match the pastor profile we have developed."
(4). The Pastor Search Committee thanked me for my "prayerful consideration" regarding the 'opportunity' of being their next pastor and they informed me that they had "also prayed that God would bless me in my present position" as I "advanced His Kingdom."

I laughed when I read the letter for a couple of reasons:

(1). Though I had heard of this church and my wife Rachelle knew of it,  I knew nothing about the church or that they were even searching for a new pastor.
(2). I had never been previously contacted by anyone from the Pastor Search Committee nor had I made application or sent a resume. Rachelle and I love the ministry we've been in for the past 21 years. I was not only a 'dark horse' candidate for this church, I was an "in the dark" candidate. The Pastor Search Committee, however, was able to determine that I didn't meet "the pastor profile they had developed" even though there'd been no contact or communication with me.

I thought the whole thing humorous.

But after some reflection, I began to think the letter was not quite so funny. This blog post is written with the small possibility (hope?) that members of this Pastor Search Committee, as well as other PSC Committees who search the Internet, might understand the problems with a letter like the one I received.

_____________________________________________

Dear Pastor Search Committee,

I received a letter from you dated October 4, 2013. At first, I thought the letter had been sent to me by mistake. I knew nothing about your church and had never applied to be your Senior Pastor, and as far as I know, had not been recommended by anyone. I looked again at the name and address on the letter, and indeed, it was addressed to "Rev. Burleson" and had my home address. But then it dawned on me this was a "form letter" sent to everyone you decided not to pursue as a prospective pastor. I thought about writing you personally, but since we don't know each other, I thought this open letter might be also be helpful to other Pastor Search Committees who resolve to communicate with the men they no longer deem to be a prospective pastor.

(1). If you are going to send a 'form letter' to pastors like the one you sent to me,  at least take out all the spiritual lingo. There's nothing more plastic and artificial than saying "we pray that God will bless you... in your current ministry" when you have not specifically prayed for me or my ministry. Those words come across very hollow to people whose daily challenge is to be involved in real, relational ministry. I know you may be in the habit of saying you've prayed for people when you really haven't, but pretension is a poison that saps the power out of any real or imaginary prayers.

I also realize that down the line you might actually spend time with a potential pastoral candidate, visiting with him in phone or in person, and  then once you have built a relationship with that man, you might decide to move another direction in your search. If so, don't send a form letter! Be relational. Be personal. Only then can you truly be prayerful.

(2). After reading your letter, I went and read the "Pastor Profile" that your Committee posted online. You have the same problem with the profile that you have with the letter. Both 'sound spiritual' but they lack substance. It's great that you advocate transparency from your next pastor in the profile, but the rest of it mitigates against transparency. For  example, it says the pastor must have "an unquestioned personal and pastoral character." Then, in the next phrase it says, "he is to be led by the Spirit of God to speak and act on the courage of his convictions." It may not have dawned on you yet, but it will eventually, that any pastor who stands on the courage of his convictions will always have questions about his personal and pastoral character. We live in a world and church culture that punishes people of conviction with attacks on personal character and ministry.

Unquestioned character is never a biblical qualification for a pastor.  Character is.  However, it is impossible to know if a man possesses character until you actually get to know him or those who know him well. Jesus was called "a winebibber, a friend to sinners, and an insurrectionist." His character was questioned by many religious leaders. Jesus would be disqualified from being your pastor according to the profile. I could go on with other examples, but I think you get the idea. One of the reasons preachers in Southern Baptist churches tend to be superficial is because they go to churches full of people who want their pastors to look like Brad Pitt and act like Jesus Christ. Ironically, this world never questions Brad Pitt's character, but they crucified the One with impeccable character. It would be helpful to learn the difference between appearances and reality and focus on substance and not the superficial.

(3). It is quite possible that the seven of you on the Pastor Search Committee (your names are on the letterhead) are actually too busy to collate and communicate in a professional manner, but the truth is, you are representing a fairly large church that ought to pursue excellence in everything she does. I'm sure somebody told you to communicate with all the pastors who've been recommended to you, but take it from one with whom you have communicated and had no idea he'd been recommended - "It's far better that you not communicate than that you communicate superficially." The problem with the Christian people today is that we pride ourselves in being super professional in the business world but we have no problem becoming stupidly spiritual in the church world. We act as if slapping a few spiritual sounding phrases on a church letter makes it sound impressive. It doesn't. The fact you sent me a form letter saying the Pastor Search Committee "prayed for you that God might bless you in you present position" may not bother other pastors who receive the form letter, but it bugs the fire out of me.  By the way, I'm being transparent.

(4). Finally, I do hope your committee is successful in finding a new pastor. However, as you continue to communicate with pastors, realize that transparency cuts both ways.

Get real. Be real. It's your only hope of finding a pastor who is real.


Wade Burleson

42 comments:

Bob Cleveland said...

Finally, a pastor who "tells it like it is". But I note that you stopped short of calling them names, several of which I can think of.

Insincere and thus hypocritical is one of the milder ones that come to mind.

A pastoral search committee ought to pray that God will light their way, and then get under way. I know of one church that has all search committees pray for 30 days before they do any actual work. As if we have to browbeat God into being in us (apparently unaware that He's dwelling there all the while).

Unknown said...

Loved this post, Wade!

Aussie John said...

Wade,

Brought back some memories!

Had a similar "The Pastor Search Committee of had spent 'hours in prayer together'" reply with the addition, "...after much prayer we came to the conclusion that fringe dwellers in our community may not think favorably of your ministry".

"fringe dwellers" ??

Christiane said...

It was kind of you to reply to these people, WADE. They obviously are in some kind of trouble as a 'search committee' and perhaps even individually. Something is not as it should be in their garden.

I hope that they take your good advice to heart and re-think what they are doing to others.

You have every reason to be concerned about the real intent of their letter, but your response to them was intended to help them,
and it reminds me of how we may not control the behavior of others towards us,
but we DO have control over how we treat them.

Have you thought about calling up their senior pastor, and informing him about the incident, as a courtesy to him?
He is in a position to sort out what is going on and to give counsel to this committee in a more immediate way.
Just a thought.

Wade Burleson said...

Christiane,

They are looking for a Senior Pastor. Once they find him, the committee will disband. Probably will leave it with just this open letter. Thanks, though, for the suggestion.

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

If I were a pastor, I wouldn’t accept being their pastor for a million dollars!

I’ll predict the pastor they get will not receive many paychecks before getting the boot from the Search Committee for not being a puppet on their string, or the Church will fire him for their # 2 (“taking us in a different direction”.)

Before Bud Smith was removed from SWBTS by Patterson, he taught that a new pastor should never change one thing about a church for at least a year.

To show people don’t like change; look at America today. Threw that in for free. :)

I have a problem with their #1 in that they ‘get God’ on their side for what they want.

It reminds me of:
“For it was the Holy Spirit’s decision—and ours—to put no greater burden on you than these necessary things:” (Acts 15:28 Holman)

This verse switched the debate on how Gentiles were saved to how they would be accepted by Christian Jews. The confusion still exists today.

Wade, you might have told them: ‘I’d listen to you if you’d shut-up.’

BUAlum said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Christiane said...

I suppose because that Church had no interim 'lead' pastor, your choice was best, WADE.

God will work on those people over time. I think your letter gave them something to think about for sure.

ScottShaver said...

Wade, I'll do you one better than that. I received two or three such form letters from churches with almost exact same wording ...FIVE years following exit from vocational pastorate.

According to the language and wording in these letters, God must certainly be on their side despite any willingness to check on current availability or even "in service" status of the various prospects they've been "led" to by their divinations.

As far as the suggestion about "giving church committees a pass"?

A lot of these committees have been getting away with poor models often handed down by denominational leadership and popularizers far too long.

It's about time some of their pomp and ceremony is addressed without giving any further "passes".

Wade Burleson said...

Scott,

Excellent point.

I'm wondering if the fault for such poor handling of these matters should lie a the feet of those who trained them (denominational "intentional interim" programs, state offices, etc.)? Who knows.

I would hope, though, that people would be smart enough to realize that when you do things in a cookie cutter fashion you will end up with cookie cutter results.

Victor said...

Interesting comments. I wonder about how the idea of the Baptist pastor as CEO (hired by committee) itself plays a part in all of this. The letter is just a (poorly) spiritualized version of a form letter that would be used in any business searching for a CEO or any other secular job. The reason it is copied and not personalized is for the same reason that form letters are used in the business world. While business practices are not necessarily negative in and of themselves, this is one example where the transition is quite awkward. The process of selecting a pastor should indeed be a spiritual, Holy Spirit driven work, but so often the real spiritual work seems to be replaced by data-crunching, risk-averse decision-by-committee that may actually work against the Gospel..Honestly, I don't blame committees for using cheezy form letters -- it's how everything else is done when our model is not Biblical/Spiritual, but chiefly corporate.

tony said...

Wade, I would like to come at this from a bit of a different perspective.

Your last comment "I would hope, though, that people would be smart enough to realize that when you do things in a cookie cutter fashion you will end up with cookie cutter results." is more telling about the state of the Church from the training of pastors perspective.

I am not surprised that the search committee looks in this fashion, considering the organized groups of churches that make up the body of Christ in America, neglect to consider "calling by God to pastor over training by men to groom the cookie cutter pastors you mentioned". Bible schools sponsored by church organizations are notorious for indoctrinating young college age leaders that spout the company line over seeking the Divine in a calling. Grades, references, and community services measured by Church Colleges Administrators, have replaced leaders that have been forged by pain, experience, transformation and calling. The Apostle Paul was knocked on his butt and called, Peter was shamed into a more pliable and worthy pastor that if applying today for a pastoral gig, even in a small church, would likely eliminate them from consideration.

This is not an Evangelical vs Charismatic issue either. I personally have witnessed a charismatic pastor-in-training walk over to his file drawer and pull out the sermon du jour relating to the next week theme. That was 25 years ago and I can still remember vividly the sense of despair I felt at that lack of seeking-and-hearing-from God. I know that it happens everywhere as well, but it is endemic of the litergic/rigid/non-spirit-led state of the Bon-Bon eating bride of Christ that now inhabits the Earth. All of us need a Child-of-Christ mental check-list assessment NOW. I want to be part of the Body of Christ that looks more like a triathlete instead of the Pillsbury dough girl..

Wade Burleson said...

BA,

My wife and I agree. It was not my intent to identify the church, so we have respectfully removed your comment. Thx!

Wade Burleson said...

Victor and Tony,

Two outstanding comments.

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Pastor Search Committees can be so irresponsible and negligent as to not even put in a basic "name" search for pastoral candidates. I know of one case in Oklahoma where either they didn't put in a simple "name" search on the internet or they were indifferent to the fact that the man they hired as their new pastor had been arrested, although not convicted, of rape in his former pastorate. The case was dropped as the "victim", a member of his church, proved to be a jilted lover following several extra-marital episodes between the pastor and her. The pastor also had other such shady affairs prior to being hired as pastor of the church where he served formerly.

Such churches are either practicing "grace" to a fault, plain ignorant or just don't care about the character of those they hire if they are marketable. Kind of like politicians that are elected.

Rex Ray said...

RRR,

You bring up an interesting point about how ‘bad’ a selected pastor was, and the fault of the search committee.

I’ll ask. in your opinion, who ‘called’ this guy to be a pastor; God or himself?

Everyone has condemned the committee, including me, but from experience I’d like to give problems a pulpit committee has.

There are many applicants for any church needing a pastor. One reason is because there are about seven (read that ratio somewhere) ‘would be’ pastors for every church in America. Has God called one or seven for every church?

The first problem a committee has is to select the ‘one’ among the ‘seven’.

Among the ‘self-called’ applicants, there may be many God-called applicants, but the committee needs to select a ‘God-called’ that best fits the church and the church will like.

Sometimes God works in mysterious ways. Case in point:

We had a small country church with about 50 in attendance. Everyone loved the interim pastor but he’d stated his health was not good enough for fulltime.

The committee decided we would look for a fulltime pastor, but if that failed we’d look for someone to help our interim.

We asked if he would be our pastor if we could find someone to help him. He said yes, but we failed to tell that we were first looking for a fulltime person.

We needed permission from the church, so the next Sunday we had a business meeting. The interim said he and his wife would leave so the church could talk freely. The church approved the committee’s decision.

After preaching the next Sunday, the interim and his wife joined the church and he stated he would gladly be our pastor.

No one said anything. We had a meeting afterwards and I told him we all wanted him to be our pastor but the church needed to vote on it.

He said, “Oh, did I jump the gun?”

We laughed and said we were sorry we failed to tell him, but he’d cut our job in half and we loved it.

During his ministry, we grew and added on a million dollar larger church

Garen Martens said...

I too find this humorous.
I know a couple of pastors that could meet their qualifications.

Anonymous said...

Wade,

The fault is not in the process, but in the principle. To me, the whole matter of 'calling a pastor' is a sham, clothed in pious platitudes to make it appear kosher......until fatigue sets in, and we then have problems with handling our unrealistic expectations. (2Cor 4:7).
"The Lord is my pastor" (Ps 23:1), and anyone in the congregation who points me to Jesus is His under-pastor. I greatly appreciate the giftedness of all other members who contribute to the dynamic life of the church.

Gordon

Anonymous said...

My belief is that only God knows for sure whether a person is genuinely called by His Holy Spirit to serve in the role of "shepherd of the flock". I fear that our carnal nature sometimes leads to ego, pride and arrogance overriding God's voice on the matter of whether He intends for some people to serve in the role of pastor. Some are obviously disqualified Scripturally to serve in the pastor role due to behavior issues. One would think that they would disqualify themselves as candidates. But some people seem to be so addicted to the "rush" of being seen as the “spiritual” leader that they continue to pursue filling that role if they can find a place that accepts them.

I also believe that our carnal nature probably sometimes perverts the intent of search committees and congregations by their allowing personalities, charisma or "rock star" persona of candidates to override God's voice.

At the same time I differ in opinion with Gordon who writes that "the whole matter of 'calling a pastor' is a sham." If I understand his intent correctly Gordon disagrees in such a process for determining who will lead a church.

I believe the traditional Southern Baptist process for determining who God would have lead their church is Scriptural and therefore blessed by God in situations where both the church and the candidate are genuinely seeking to be obedient to God's plan for them.
At least that’s how things seem to me.

A. Amos Love said...

RRR

I have some questions when you write...
“I believe the traditional Southern Baptist process for determining who
God would have lead their church is Scriptural... blessed by God...”

Was Wondering - What is “the traditional Southern Baptist process?”
And - Why would you call it “Scriptural?”
What “Scriptures” are you referring to?

Because - When I search the Scriptures...
I can NOT find one of His Disciples who was - Hired...
As a - pastor/leader/reverend - to lead a church.
Or, as a - shepherd/leader - to lead a church.

Now I cudda missed it - Maybe you could help?

In the Bible - In the Scriptures - Can you name...
One of His Disciples who was, Hired or Fired, as a - pastor/leader?

And - While you’re searching the “Scriptures” - Can you name...
One of His Disciples who called them self - pastor or leader?
One of His Disciples who had the “Title/Position” - pastor or leader?

And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
them also I must bring, and they shall “hear My voice; “
and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
John 10:16

One Voice - One Fold - One Shepherd - One Leader

{{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

A. Amos Love said...

RRR

I have some questions when you write...
“I believe the traditional Southern Baptist process for determining who
God would have lead their church is Scriptural... blessed by God...”

Was Wondering - What is “the traditional Southern Baptist process?”
And - Why would you call it “Scriptural?”
What “Scriptures” are you referring to?

Because - When I search the Scriptures...
I can NOT find one of His Disciples who was - Hired...
As a - pastor/leader/reverend - to lead a church.
Or, as a - shepherd/leader - to lead a church.

Now I cudda missed it - Maybe you could help?

In the Bible - In the Scriptures - Can you name...
One of His Disciples who was, Hired or Fired, as a - pastor/leader?

And - While you’re searching the “Scriptures” - Can you name...
One of His Disciples who called them self - pastor or leader?
One of His Disciples who had the “Title/Position” - pastor or leader?

And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
them also I must bring, and they shall “hear My voice; “
and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
John 10:16

One Voice - One Fold - One Shepherd - One Leader

{{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

New BBC Open Forum said...

If you are going to send a 'form letter' to pastors like the one you sent to me, at least take out all the spiritual lingo. There's nothing more plastic and artificial than saying "we pray that God will bless you... in your current ministry" when you have not specifically prayed for me or my ministry. Those words come across very hollow to people whose daily challenge is to be involved in real, relational ministry. I know you may be in the habit of saying you've prayed for people when you really haven't, but pretension is a poison that saps the power out of any real or imaginary prayers.

Exactly my thoughts when I hear or read professing Christians call someone names (e.g. "Jezebel," "troublemaker," "antinomian," "liberal") for something as minor as holding to a different interpretation of a tertiary doctrine or express ignorance about something you know they're fully aware of (e.g. those who cover for pedophiles, and I could name names), and then sign their little screeds with something like "Blessings!" or "In HIS Name!" or "Have a Jesus-filled day!" all of which are real-life examples I've seen. Puhleaze.

I recently wrote this in response to a quote by someone that seemed, shall we say, less than sincere.

"We hope and pray." I do believe that "praying!" is one of the most casually thrown about and overused phrases in our lexicon today, and it's not just Christians who toss it around. I've heard news anchors (who may or may not be Christians) use the phrase "our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims" in the case of natural disasters or crimes such as the Sandy Hook shootings. Really? How many times have you seen someone on [insert your social media site of choice here] write about some illness or problem in their life and seen all the "praying!" responses which often pop up within minutes? Some are likely sincere (I'm not judging who is or who isn't), but I suspect many never give the person or situation another thought.

I always figured telling someone you're praying for them when you're not is one of those "smiteable" offenses.

New BBC Open Forum said...

"The Pastor Search Committee of had spent 'hours in prayer together'" reply with the addition, "...after much prayer we came to the conclusion that fringe dwellers in our community may not think favorably of your ministry".

LOL. Apparently "fringe" has become a popular insult. Amy Smith was warned that if she participated in a peaceful campaign to warn attendees at the SBC about the problem of pedophiles and abusers within our churches that she "may be seen as fringe."

Anonymous said...

A. Amos Love,
Sorry for the delay in responding to your comments regarding my earlier response but we've been off-line/outta' town for a few days.

By "traditional Southern Baptist process" I refer to the process that the majority of Southern Baptist churches have used for decades to fill the role of "pastor" and “deacon”. In regards to filling the role of “pastor, church members select a number or representatives from among the body to do the work of searching for candidates that seem to meet the qualifications found in Scripture for the pastor. They then interview those candidates to ascertain first hand those who are considered best suited to fill the role of this leadership position. Then this committee recommends the candidate/or candidates to the full body of believers/ the congregation who pray and vote as to whether they believe this is the man that God would bless as the leader of the church.

This process is consistent with Scriptural models. Churches were instructed to search and examine those who were to serve in leadership roles. The apostles demonstrated the need for church leaders to be examined and acknowledged as being qualified to serve in the leadership roles of deacon and pastor. Of course God blesses any individual or church when they are obedient to instruction provided in His Word.

If I am not answering your questions perhaps it is due to my not having a clear understanding of what you are asking. If you are suggesting that Scripture does not specify the need to have leaders to serve in the unique positions that are specifically identified by qualifications and responsibilities for pastor and deacons then I fear you are ignoring a lot of Scripture passages.

Hope this helps.

A. Amos Love said...

RRR - Or anyone who calls themself Southern Baptist

Thanks for explaining the “"traditional Southern Baptist process"
And - Jesus did warn us about the dangers of “Man’s Tradition.” - Yes?

Mark 7:13
NLT – you “cancel” the word of God in order to hand down your tradition.
KJV – Making the word of God of “none effect” through your tradition…
ASV – Making “void” the word of God by your tradition…
NIV – Thus you “nullify” the word of God by your tradition…

You end your second paragraph with...
“Then **this committee recommends** the candidate/or candidates to the full body of believers/ the congregation who pray **and vote** as to whether they believe this is the man that God would bless as **the leader of the church.**”

You then go on to say - “This process is consistent with Scriptural models.”
But - You failed to mention the “Scriptures” that produce this “Model.”

So - I have some questions - About your use of the word “Scriptural.”

I could be wrong - But - If something is called “Scriptural?”
Wouldn’t it actually have to be written somewhere - In the Scriptures?

Are there any “Scriptures” where a “committee recommends?” - Anything?
Or specifically - Who a congregation should - Hire - as a - pastor/leader?

Are there any “Scriptures” where “the congregation who * pray and vote*?”
Actually “vote” for one of His Disciples to - Hire - as a pastor/leader?

--------

Because - When I search the “Scriptures” for your Scriptural Model...

I can NOT find one of His Disciples who was - Hired - by a congregation...
As a - pastor/leader/reverend - to lead a church.

I can find ALL of “His Disciples” calling themselves “Servants.”
I can NOT find one of His Disciples calling them self - pastor/leader.

Can you please show me where I missed that?

And - the only “ONE” I can find, In The Bible, with the “Title/Position”
Shepherd/Leader/Reverend - Is...

{{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

A. Amos Love said...

RRR - Or anyone who calls them self Southern Baptist.

RRR and other SBC folks mention - Leadership - Leader - A Lot...

“the role of this leadership position.”
“that God would bless as the leader of the church.”
“to serve in leadership roles”
“the need for church leaders”
“qualified to serve in the leadership roles”
“the need to have leaders to serve in the unique positions.”

But - I can NOT find one of His Disciples who called themself - “Leader.”
What did His Disciples know then? That those in today’s SBC miss? ;-)

Don’t know if you ever noticed what Jesus taught His Disciples?

Because - In the Bible - Jesus taught His Disciples...
NOT to be called - Leaders. - For you have “ONE” Leader - Christ.

Mat 23:10-12 NASB - New American Standard Bible
Do NOT be called leaders; for “ONE” is your Leader, that is, Christ.
But the greatest among you shall be your “servant.”
Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled;
and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

The Message - Mat 23:10-12.
And don't let people maneuver you into taking charge of them.
There is only “ONE” Life-Leader for you and them—Christ.
**Do you want to stand out? - Then step down. - Be a servant.**
If you puff yourself up, you'll get the wind knocked out of you.
But if you're content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.

If the SBC wants to be known as - “The Great Commission Church?”
How can you, according to, Mat 28:19:20 NKJV, “Go... make Disciples...
*teaching them to observe “ALL” things that I have commanded you**

If the SBC is NOT teaching - potential wanna-be Disciples...
NOT to be called “Leaders?” - The “ONE” Leader is Jesus?

If someone calls them self a “Leader?”
And they allow others to call them “Leader?”

Ignoring what Jesus taught His Disciples...

Are they one of His Disciples?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

A.Amos Love:

I'm not sure what I wrote that generated your impolite and disrespectful response: "Don’t know if you ever noticed what Jesus taught His Disciples?" I apologize if I wrote in a way that seemed offensive.

By “Scripture” I of course mean verses from the Bible. I intentionally did not include Scripture references as I wrote to you and made mention of Biblical church-leadership positions or instructions given as to how to fill those positions of leadership. It appears that you read the Bible and no doubt have read the verses to which I refer so I felt, mistakenly apparently, no need to give the Biblical references since it’s quite elementary. For instance: Church leadership positions-"Overseer/deacon": 1 Timothy 3:1-13/ the Greek title of “episcopacy” is translated into various English words depending upon the translation you prefer but all have basically the same content, i.e. “bishop, eldership, presbytery”. Titus 1:5 Paul instructs Timothy to “appoint” elders to serve in the position of overseer. Acts 20:28 explains that the Holy Spirit is of course responsible for the call and placement of leaders in the congregations as He works in the hearts of those involved in the process of selecting and examining those who are to serve in those positions. Acts 15:22 says in reference to a model for filling church leadership positions; “Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas.” In reference to “paying” church leaders even a casual student of the Bible knows well the passage of
1 Timothy 5: 17 and 18 which are references that lead us to understand that it is “Scriptural” and obligates churches to financially support those leaders who serve in the church.

You seem to have a problem with our having “traditions”. “Traditions” are good and Godly when they are actions that are done in obedience to God’s instructions and desire. Of course “traditions” that originate from “man” and attributed as being “Godly” in order to manipulate and control others are un-Godly and sinful. When I refer to “traditions of Southern Baptists” I refer to those church events and practices that originate from God’s instructions such as how to fill leadership positions. We also have “traditions” of baptizing born again believers and observing the Lord’s Supper, all of which are Godly and appropriate and God therefore blesses.

I am again puzzled by your responses because I sense that you already know these basic Bible teachings but respond as though you don't. What's up with that? Why are we re-hashing the obvious?

A. Amos Love said...

RRR

Sorry - For being ”impolite and disrespectful”
I often get that way when folks “Ignore” or “Twist” the Questions asked.

And - Guess I’m NOT explaining my self properly - Because you write...
“I am again puzzled...”

I’ll try again - Two questions...

1 - In the Bible - In the Scriptures - Can you name...
One of His Disciples who was, Hired or Fired, as a - pastor/leader?

2 - If, in the Scriptures - NOT one of His Disciples was...
Hired - as a pastor/leader? To lead a church?

How can the "traditional Southern Baptist process" of...
“Hireing” - pastor/leaders - Be Scriptural?
If NO one, in the Scriptures was - Hired - as a pastor/leader?

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Anonymous said...

A.Amos Love,
Thanks for asking.

When I see instructions being given for the church to financially support its leaders as I referred using
1 Timothy 5:17,18 I accept that, as do almost all churches, as telling us that we are obligated to financially support those who are working in ministry full time. Paul said that he personally chose to work as a lay-pastor and work in his secular craft to help with his own finances. But he also said that churches should recognize the need to pay their church leaders. Paul himself accepted gifts, housing, food and support from people too. He was a "missionary" who worked as a transient evangelist/church planter so did not himself serve in "a" church on a long-term basis so would not have expected to receive support from "one" individual congregation as might someone else who did.

In terms of "hired and fired", I've already made many references to leaders being examined, chosen and enlisted to serve in leadership positions. Given that they were to be paid (again, 1 Timothy 5:17, 18) one might say that they were "hired" as you prefer to say, since they were enlisted, accepted and paid by the church. In terms of being "fired" I don't recall of a named leader doing anything that disqualified them or justified their being defrocked from serving as a leader, or “fired”. That being said, certainly the church had the authority and was instructed to safeguard the integrity of its character and to extract those in its membership who behaved immorally or in ways that undermined the work of the church. This type of church discipline would certainly be the same for its leaders if for some reason they failed to continue to meet the qualifications for leadership specifically laid out in Scripture.

This brings to mind that the church is the body of Christ. It functions as a union of many members all who fall under the ultimate leadership of Jesus Christ as its "head". Christ being the “head” of the church does not mean that the church will not have “leaders”. The church membership is diverse and gifted with different spiritual gifts and ministries. Some are called to teach, administer, heal, preach and function in other capacities. As we’ve already mentioned from multiple passages, the church was to choose its leaders, called anything from “bishop, presbytery, elders, keepers of the sheep” or other titles depending upon the translation you use. Although all church members fall under the ultimate Lordship of Jesus Christ, the members do not function as independent units out of fellowship with one another. They do not function without accountability to the church. As the church lives it functions in an orderly and focused method and it chooses its leaders who function to facilitate the body being united and effectively serving together as the body of Christ all serving under His Lordship.

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Anonymous said...

This was a first for me. I have never heard of a church doing this.

I am speechless.

Louis

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Anonymous said...

Wade,
I agree with much of what A.Amos Love has said.

I think we have to define what we mean by leadership . To me,it is not the position one holds but the example one sets in deeds and in words for others to trust and follow Jesus at all times. It is a work of edification that each one of us should exercise.

The congregation can appoint gifted servants to manage various aspects of the communal church life, but these appointed persons are not to be considered leaders any more than the members who serve in the choir, or the janitors,or the door stewards , or the gardeners, or hospitality workers or sick visitors or any others who are engage a host of duties. "Those who stand and wait also serve", said Milton.

Anyone thinking of himself as being 'the Boss', who holds a leadership rank above the others, is acting in a somewhat arrogant manner.

We would be robbing the Redeemer of His divine right to rule every part of His body, if we accepted the haughty and misleading terminology of 'leader'. Jesus warned us specifically against adopting such an erroneous social structure in the congregation of believers (Matt23:10-11)

The New Covenant promises personal Spirit guidance, motivation and empowerment(Jer 31:31 ff). Believers should not feel curtailed in exercising their common priesthood and prophethood, and their soul competency by unaccommodating structures.

Let's face it,no single church can be said to have all the gifts of the Spirit....how much less will these be found in one man!

I think the problomatic pursuit of pastoral 'head-hunting' should be scrapped because it implies and perpetuates an unbiblical, pyramid model of church government.

Gordon

A. Amos Love said...

RRR

Thank you for your well thought out response...
I’m sorry - BUT - Most of what you write - I can NOT find, in the Bible.

And - Thank you for agreeing with me, I think, when I asked...

“1 - In the Bible - In the Scriptures - Can you name...
One of His Disciples who was, Hired or Fired, as a - pastor/leader?”

Because - You did NOT, and could NOT, name one of His Disciples...
In the Scriptures - Who was, Hired or Fired, as a - pastor/leader.

------------

I have some more questions about what you write...

1 - You also write @ Tue Nov 12, 05:41:00 PM 2013...
“Paul said that he personally chose to work as a lay-pastor...”

I can NOT find, in the Bible, Paul calling himself - “a lay-pastor.”
I can NOT find, in the Bible, Paul calling himself - “pastor/leader.”

Is calling someone “a lay-pastor” - or “pastor/leader” - another...
"traditional Southern Baptist process" even though it’s NOT in the Bible?

2 - You also write about Paul...
“who worked as a transient evangelist/church planter.”

I can NOT find, in the Bible, Paul calling himself - “a church planter.”
In fact, I can NOT find the term “church planter” in the Bible.

Is calling someone “a church planter” - another...
"traditional Southern Baptist process" even though it’s NOT in the Bible?

RRR - Haven’t you ever wondered? Why? In the Bible?
NOT one of His Disciples called them self - pastor/leader/reverend?
NOT one of His Disciples had the Title/Position - pastor/leader/reverend?

In my experience with having been in “Leadership.” And…
In my experience with the Title/Position of **Today’s** “Pastor/Leader,”

“Titles” become “Idols” ................... “Idols” of the heart. Ezek 14:1-11 KJV
“Pastors” become “Masters” .......... A No, No, Mat 23:10 KJV

An “Idol,” an addiction, difficult to lay down, hard to walk away from.
Because, **Today’s** “Titles” come with something “A Little Bit Extra.”
Power, Profit, Prestige, Honor, Glory, Reputation, Recognition, etc…
All “Idols” of the heart. Ezek 14:1-7. All those things Jesus spoke against.
All those things that are highly esteemed among men.

Luke 16:15
…but God knoweth your hearts:
for that which is highly esteemed among men
is abomination in the sight of God.

A. Amos Love said...

RRR

And you also write about - leaders - and leadership - a lot - 11 times.

“the church to financially support its leaders”
“the need to pay their church leaders”
“many references to leaders being examined”
“enlisted to serve in leadership positions.”
“I don't recall of a named leader doing anything that disqualified them”
“justified their being defrocked from serving as a leader,”
“church discipline would certainly be the same for its leaders”
“to meet the qualifications for leadership”
“does not mean that the church will not have “leaders”.”
“the church was to choose its leaders,”
“and it chooses its leaders who function to facilitate the body”

In the Bible...
1 - I can NOT find, the word - “Leadership.” (A Non-Biblical word.)
2 - I can NOT find, **one of His Disciples** who called them self - “Leader.”
3 - Or - church leader, 4 - Or - serving in “leadership positions.”
5 - Or - mentioning - qualifications for leadership.

What did His Disciples know 2000 years ago? That the SBC, and other...
501 (c) 3, Non-profit, tax $ deductible, Religious $ Corporations...
That the IRS calls church - miss today?

Is calling folks “church leader” - serving in “leadership position” - another...
"traditional Southern Baptist process" even though it’s NOT in the Bible?

Seems - Jesus taught His Disciples...
NOT to be called - Leaders. - For you have “ONE” Leader - Christ.
And NOT one of His Disciples did - ALL called thenselves - “Servants.”

Mat 23:10-12 NASB - New American Standard Bible
Do NOT be called leaders; for “ONE” is your Leader, that is, Christ.
But the greatest among you shall be your “servant.”
Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled;
and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

And - In the Bible - NOT one of His Disciples called them self - “Leader.”
Seems - ALL of His Disciples called themselves “Servants.” ;-)

Rom 1:1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ,
Php 1:1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ,
Col 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ,
Tit 1:1 Paul, a servant of God,
Jas 1:1 James, a servant of God
2Pe 1:1 Simon Peter, a servant

-------------

If someone calls them self a “Leader?” Or, thinks they are “Leader?”
And they allow others to call them “Leader?”

Ignoring what Jesus taught His Disciples...

Are they one of His Disciples?

A. Amos Love said...

Gordon

Much agreement when you write...
“The fault is not in the process, but in the principle. To me, the whole matter of 'calling a pastor' is a sham, clothed in pious platitudes to make it appear kosher...”

Sham - Dictionaary
1 - a thing that is not what it is purported to be.
2 - a person who pretends to be someone or something they are not.
3 - falsely present something as the truth.

synonyms: fake, fiction, fraud, false, artificial, bogus, contrived

Now, I also believe folks in a 501 (c) 3, Non-Profit, Tax $ Deductible,
Religious $ Corporation, that the IRS calls church... Hmmm?

Should one of His Disciples call an IRS Corp - The Church???

Anyway - These folks, in this Corp, are allowed to make their own rules.
And they already do... ;-)

If the SBC wants folks with the “Title” pastor - To Lead these Corporations?
If the SBC wants “Committees” to weed-out the candidates?
If the SBC wants a congregation to “Vote.” “To choose” which candidate?

That’s their “Business” - Literally. ;-)

The Sham comes - the fake, fiction, fraud, false, contrived, comes...

When the SBC, the 501 (c) 3, Religious $ Corporations...

Call this process “Scriptural” and/or “Biblical.”

When NO one can name - In the Bible - one of His Disciples...
Who was voted for, called to lead a church, or had the “Title/Position”
pastor/leader/reverend...

Jer 50:6
“My people” hath been “lost sheep:”
**their shepherds** have caused them to *go astray,*

1 Pet 2:25
For ye were as *sheep going astray;*
BUT are now returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

I’m Blest... I’ve returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of my soul...

{{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

Anonymous said...

A.Amos Lowe,

There were people in the early church in positions that were recognized as having authority and as being seen as leaders. One guy was named "James". He happened to be the brother of Jesus. Another one was Peter. When we choke on terminology like "pastor, leader, etc., saying that we don't find it in the Bible we really are straining at the gnats of translation from Greek. We could call them by their Greek terms if necessary but I prefer to use English and you can interpret bishop, overseer and even deacon as you see fit or you can continue to reject the reality of what is written. In regards to "lay-pastor" and "church planter"; these are terms I of course referred to in consideration of the function of their ministry. "Lay-pastor" is generally considered in the circles that I hang out with as being someone who works in secular work to earn money to support them while they're doing ministry so they aren't dependent upon others paying them. "Church planters" are generally considered by my “church planting” buddies as being someone who functions to go into new places, share the Gospel, lead people to Christ, begins teaching them and discipling them and helps them to function as a body of believers. You can call them anything you want or you can deny the reality that there were indeed people like Paul and Barnabas and others who functioned in that capacity.

I can see that you and I certainly are not "communicating" and haven't since we began this dialogue. Unbelievably we seem to be just arguing back and forth and it seems that we have a personality conflict of some sort without ever even having met. That's weird and sad. I'll conclude the conversation before it gets more personal. God bless you.

A. Amos Love said...

RRR

Thank you for having the courage to admit...
That much of what you have mentioned - Is NOT Scriptural...
BUT - Is “**generally considered** in the circles that I hang out with.”

“"Lay-pastor" is **generally considered** in the circles that I hang out with as being someone who works in secular work to earn money to support them while they're doing ministry so they aren't dependent upon others paying them.”

"Church planters" are **generally considered** by my “church planting” buddies as being someone who functions to go into new places, share the Gospel, lead people to Christ, begins teaching them and discipling them and helps them to function as a body of believers.”

That was the point of my first comment to you - About Hiring Pastors.
@ Thu Nov 07, 09:12:00 AM 2013... - Why would you call it scriptural?

----------------

RRR

“I have some questions when you write...
“I believe the traditional Southern Baptist process for determining who
God would have lead their church is Scriptural... blessed by God...”

Was Wondering - What is “the traditional Southern Baptist process?”
And - Why would you call it “Scriptural?”
What “Scriptures” are you referring to?

Because - When I search the Scriptures...
I can NOT find one of His Disciples who was - Hired...
As a - pastor/leader/reverend - to lead a church.
Or, as a - shepherd/leader - to lead a church.”

-------------

You also write @ Thu Nov 14, 10:39:00 PM 2013
“You can call them anything you want or you can deny the reality that there were indeed people like Paul and Barnabas and others who functioned in that capacity.”

So - I thank you for permission to call Paul, who...
called himself a - “Servant” of God - a “Servant.” - And NOT “Leader.”
And to remind folks that Jesus taught His Disciples...
NOT to “Exercise Authority” like the Gentiles. BUT - Be a “Servant.”

And - I, in return, give you permission to say...
Paul and Barnabus - “were recognized as having authority
and as being seen as leaders.” - By the SBC, and other - IRS churches - the
501 (c) 3. Non-Profit, Tax Deductible, Religious Corporations.

I would just ask that you NOT “Teach People” it is “Scriptural.”
That it is just your interpretation of how it should be, because of the...
“"traditional Southern Baptist process" - and NOT what is written.

Or “Teach People” - “This process is consistent with Scriptural models.”
When it’s NOT - It’s just a man made “Tradition” to run the show.

Thanks for considering this request. :-)

What is popular is NOT always “Truth.”
What is “Truth” is NOT always popular.