What’s Up with Pastor Todd

What’s Up with Pastor Todd 8-6-21

Here are some responses I’ve been hearing to my informal survey of the First Church/South Church collaboration/consolidation process. Hopeful signs: Reports that UNITE is uniting! After some initial tension around the type and amount of programming for “uniting” people, it sounds like a “both/and” approach is beginning to emerge. Breakthroughs have occurred as members of the working group have shared their personal stories and what connects with them. Particular sensitivity has been raised around the kinds of events that feel welcoming for people in recovery. This is a great example of how making space for diverse voices expands our perspective, which in turn expands our ability to connect with people.

More hopeful signs: Folks from the property working group have been working with their coach to do yet another critical piece of “both/and” work. With the leadership of the coach they are thinking about “mission.” They are also doing a detailed evaluation/inventory of our properties in an attempt to get a more “objective” handle on the property resources both churches bring to the table. Keeping mission in mind while doing an objective assessment will give our congregations the resources we need to make wise decisions about what physical properties will best serve the new mission of the new church.

I’m hearing questions about what decisions are best made during transition time versus “after the settled pastor has arrived.” My two cents: First, we might want to think of this person not so much as a “settled minister,” but as a “restart pastor,” with the requisite gifts and experience for creating something new. Second, having served as both a settled minister and transitional I can see both sides. There is not a hard and fast rule. Here are some questions we can ask ourselves: 

  • “Are we ‘waiting’ simply to put off making a tough decision?” In this case we’re neither serving ourselves nor our future settled (restart) minister; We might ask “What is preventing us from making this tough decision now? Lack of resources? Lack of information? Lack of willingness? What can we do to address these issues?
  • “Will making this decision now help us clarify our vision for the future so that we can put ourselves in the best position possible for finding a good settled (restart) pastor ‘match?’”
  • “If we decide to wait with this decision, are we really open to letting our future settled (restart) minister lead on this issue? If so, how will we make this expectation clear to the congregation?”

Examples: As a settled minister I have been in situations where church leadership told me that there was a staff member who clearly needed to be let go. Instead of just making that tough choice during the transition, they put it off for the settled minister. This was NOT helpful because it made my job of bonding with the congregation that much more difficult. On the other hand, I’ve had situations where the church hired staff during transition when as a settled minister I would have preferred the position filled on an acting basis so I could have more input in building the team. This same sort of dynamic is at play with properties, finances, program, etc. So, as I said, there is no hard and fast rule; rather, it’s a process of discernment. Starting something new is all about building momentum. My encouragement is to use this transition time when things are in flux to set up your future “settled” (restart) minister for success.

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