Now that I’m in a new position, it’s just a matter of time before I tick somebody off.
For example: my church tradition doesn’t have individual bishops. Instead The Presbytery is a corporate bishop comprised of an equal number of ruling elders and pastors who make the decisions a bishop would make in other denominations. In other words, I’m not a bishop. And although The Presbytery has rules, sometimes those rules are guidelines and sometimes those rules are commandments. And there are consequences for not adhering to them.
My colleague and friend Landon Whitsitt offered this wisdom at an executive training session a couple years ago and I thought it belonged on a pillow.
There is another perspective in Church World though. Some of my colleagues believe that it’s the Presbytery/Bishop’s job to keep a church from doing something they’ll regret – like installing a toilet in the kitchen.
Congregations make decisions every day that determine their future. For example, I would consider these to be bad decisions akin to putting a toilet in the kitchen:
- Not hiring a trained transitional pastor between the former and future pastor. There are exceptions but they would be rare.
- Saving the church endowment for a rainy day when the roof is literally leaking.
- Calling Pulpit Candy (i.e. the person you imagine is your dream pastor: good hair, radio voice, young family) instead of the pastor you actually need to thrive in the 21st Century.
- Focusing inward with no beneficial impact in the neighborhood around you.
- Confusing being a good church member with being a disciple of Jesus. They are two very different things.
But if you absolutely want to make choices that people who study these things for a living know to be unwise and you are going to be all up in arms if you don’t get your way, I am somewhat likely to let you get your way. And I’ll try not to say “I told you so” when things go awry because God can redeem even our worst mistakes. See Genesis 50. [Note: some mistakes eventually result in closing a church, but even church closures lead to resurrection.]
Church leaders: what’s your wisdom? Do we let congregations make mistakes? Or do we make them angry – perhaps for generations – when we adamantly refuse to let them put a toilet in the kitchen?
The fundamental question boils down to this: Do our congregations trust us when we say that we want them to thrive and grow? Do they trust us enough to accept our leadership and make (what we pray will be) healthy choices?
Image of one of my favorite pillows with thanks to LW.