Dear churches looking for pastors and other staff — sometimes the most convenient choice is not the best choice. This coming from someone who has been the convenient choice. Bruce Reyes-Chow, Moderator of the 218th General Assembly, PCUSA
Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. Genesis 12:1,2
In the 21st Century Church, we are all about permission-giving and getting out of the way so that God can do what God does. It’s often been considered a clear sign when something is so easy: the painless process, the unmistakable clarity, the obvious decision. I’m a big fan of getting out of the way when everything is right.
But I’m also aware that we can confuse what’s right for what’s easy.
- “It’s easy to call our Transitional Pastor to become our Called Pastor since we already know her and like her.”
- “It’s easy to call our ready-to-be-ordained Director of Education to become our Pastor of Education because he wants to be here, the parents like him, the kids like him.”
- “It’s easy to contract with the retired pastor who lives across the street to help us with pastoral care because . . . he lives across the street.”
In all those situations, the easy solutions could in fact be the best choices. Or they could be the wrong choices but we are too tired to dig deep and figure out what our congregation really needs and if – in fact – there’s a call.
I increasingly experience people who are limiting their calls for the sake of convenience. Note: some of us are tied to a specific geographic location because of family considerations: the spouse whose job is based here and only here, the grandparent who is on the cusp of eternity, the child who finally has the right oncologist.
I would ask those who say that they cannot move to ask themselves:
- Is it that we can’t move or that we really like our house and our lives here?
- Is it that we can’t move or that we don’t want to move farther away from our grown kids or our parents?
- Is it that we can’t move or that we basically hate the thought of moving?
Again, some of us truly cannot move. But I have special admiration for those who channel their inner Abram: The Texans who move to Michigan. The Mainers who accept calls to Arizona. The Pacific Northwesterners who follow God’s call to Florida. Only God moves people to leave everything they’ve ever known and become strangers in a strange land.
It’s so much easier to accept a call that doesn’t require that much transition.
Image of The Ziggurat in Ur near modern day Nasiriya, Iraq – the birth place of Abram.