The Life of JaWS

A blog by Jason Sansbury

Monday, July 31, 2006

Church Politics...

So as I am getting ready to move all my belongings to Nashville, it has been interesting watching the news, getting the Vince Young update (on Saturday (?) he leveled a defensive lineman who picked off a pass.) and getting adjusted to the area. At the top of the news this weekend was this story, which is summarized nicely by the Tennessean. Essentially the founding pastor of a local mega-church was dismissed by the elders of the congregation.

A couple thoughts come to mind as I have listened and read about the story. These thoughts are general ones and by no means are necessarily reflective of the local situation specifically.

  1. Pastors need real, honest, sincere accountability. And I say that as someone who is a minister, though not ordained in my denomination. People in ministry tend to succeed based on their drive and determination. Unfortunately, sometimes that drive and determination also can cause lots of problems. What anyone in ministry really needs is someone to challenge them, to question them and ground them. But it has to be something that the minister will invest in personally and it can’t be forced on it.
  1. Pastors should never, ever have complete control. I have been reading a lot of church planting material and blogs and theme that runs its course is that pastors should be the alpha dog, make all the decisions and never relinquish control. The problem with that approach is that pastors fail. And I don’t mean massive moral failure or economic failure. I mean, in general, pastors make mistakes. And we ought to own up to them.

If the truth of the Gospel is that we are seeking to build growing, life-changing communities of faith, then Christ is the head of the body. If we want to have large mega-churches, then you need an Alpha-type that is driven. (And, no, the two aren’t diametric opposites. Some people have managed to do both.) But there is something to the notion of the church as a whole seeking the wisdom and counsel of God.

  1. Congregations need to be wise in choosing leadership. As a United Methodist, it is a rare thing that we ever have a church split. (Though, prognosticators think the whole denomination may split in the next 20 years or so…) Part of why that is true is that the UMC is a laity-driven church if done right. The strength of the church is that its mission and ownership lies in the hands of the people who are most invested. As Methodists, pastors in our denomination change churches every summer. Some pastors stay 12 years in one church, some 2 or 3. Regardless, we are all aware of a time that a pastor will move on. And because of that fact, the church should take ownership much more over its mission, its ministry and its call. Pastors are engaged and involved but they will move on. And there is immense wisdom in that idea, as it stops the very kind of church split that seems imminent for this Nashville congregation.


At 1:32 PM , Anonymous Turff said...

The news story was hard to read. The sad thing is, pastors aren't taught to be managers/executives, and laity is likewise often untrained in the skills that church lay leadership roles often require of them. I have an idea: why not institute a principle that states that whenever a staff member is fired/layed off/whatever you call it from a church, all members of the body electing to take that action must simultaneously resign. That would remove any possibility that a contest for power was at question. It would serve as a demonstration of purity of motive. Perhaps most importantly, it would guarantee that something good came out of every such decision, be it the removal of staff or SPRC members.

At 9:32 AM , Blogger Algernon said...

That could work...unless you have a senior pastor who initiated the removal of said staff member for purposes of agenda/power/etc. Then the problem remains, you just have new faces on the front lines.


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