Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Preacher Wanted: Must be Able to Walk on Water

I was perusing through ACU’s “Churches Looking for Ministers” page today, and I came across this job description:

“A new congregation seeks a dynamic full-time minister to come and minister to us. The church started in the Dallas area almost two years ago and now has 150 members. We are now at a point where we need a full-time minister to come and join the team. Qualifications: Professional leadership experience and success. Self-Starter. Visionary. Musical Ability. Technological ability. Strong and polished public presentation with a good public speaking voice. Willing to work under the direction and supervision of the leadership committee. Will have a track record of church growth. Theological Training: hold an advanced degree from a theological training institution. Have a good understanding of contemporary culture and be able to relate. Pastoral: have the ability to perform pastoral duties. Conservative theologically and believe that the Bible is the inspired and authoritative word of God and believe in the five steps of salvation. The candidate must not have any liberal leanings. Tradition: comfortable with Church of Christ traditions as well as early church tradition. Small Groups: support of relational small group ministries in the church. Bible Translation: must preach and teach from KVJ, ASV, NKJV, or NASB. KJV or ASV preferred. Additional Training: engage in ongoing training and learning. Knowledgeable of various religious issues. Have a Purpose-Driven ministry philosophy, strong prayer life and engage regularly in spiritual disciplines. Strong relational skills and work well with other people. Should not be success driven, but have a deep, abiding relationship with God that shows in his humility, thoughtfulness, and reflections. Marriage: It is strongly desired that the candidate should be happily married. Children: As per qualifications in 1 Tim 3, it is desired that the candidate have at least two children, or plan on having at least two children. Age: The candidate should be between 30 - 40 years of age. Please send your resume.”

Wow! I wonder if the guy has to walk on water as well? And here’s the irony – the name of this church . . . The Grace Church of Christ!


Anonymous said...

Wow, that's quite a resume that they're looking for. I find some interest in the desire for ASV or KJV and church tradition combined with the "Purpose Driven" thing. Those things don't necessarily walk hand in hand usually.

OK, since when is the preacher a pastor? And since when do you hire an elder or deacon? (Isn't that what the Timothy passage is about?)

This sounds like a confused group.

Holly said...

Can I request that he be able to at least attempt to turn water into wine? Er- I mean to say, "a fancy, spiced grape juice that is non-alcoholic."

A.H. Jordan said...

I think we're just trying to tighten up the specs for our new preachers. What we've learned from the past week is that I am now responsible for what you say from the pulpit, Charles. I can just see the headline now in the Terrell Tribune when I'm running for some office, "JORDAN DISAVOWS PASTOR NORTH'S REMARKS, WANTS TO FOCUS ON ECONOMY."

In fact I guess I can pretty much forget about TTLA's endorsement after your remark about lawyers a couple of weeks ago.

Charles North said...

You have to listen to 20 years worth of my sermons and make me part of your advisory committee before you get to disavow me.

Ryan said...

I don't know where to start. Why anyone would want to work for a church that would mandate the number of children you can have, and require you to teach from an archaic, poorly translated version (KJV) of the Bible is beyond me.

To find out that it is the Grace Church of Christ that was a priceless end to that post. Honestly, that seemed like a well written joke.

You said:
"OK, since when is the preacher a pastor? And since when do you hire an elder or deacon?"

You hire an elder or deacon WHEN the preacher is a pastor. And when is the preacher a pastor? All of the time. Preaching, teaching, counseling and comforting are all pastoral duties. The greatest public speaker (preacher) in the world is no use to someone who has just lost a loved one. A pastor on the other hand is.

Anonymous said...

So do those "pastoral duties" belong soley to the elders in the church or also to the preacher/minister? People are less likely to listen to a speaker who wants nothing to do with the congregation's personal lives. Plus, its harder to motivate those you don't know. You don't get to know people without getting involved.

Even successful companies show often that the leadership of those companies take personal interest in the lives and conerns of those who work for them. Otherwise those workers won't stay long and their quality of work is less than optimum. I don't know of a single person that isn't looking to be loved and appreciated deep down. I think it is one of the strongest motivating factors for people.

Question is...who's job is that? It used to be expected of the preacher, now I believe that is more expected of the elders.

My other concern is how can a preacher ask the congregation to care for each other and expect them to minister to each other like Jesus did and opt out of those duties himself.

Ok here is where I argue the opposite side.

However, one minister/preacher can't meet the needs of a whole congregation. There is no way he can persoanlly know each member of a larger congregation. If there are not some boundaries set up then he becomes a full time counselor with not enough hours in the day to please everyone. That is also not a fair expectation of one preacher and his wife.

I've come to realize that different folks are gifted differently...even ministers. Some I've known were high on the ministering end but not the best teachers. We have to all work together ie the members, elders, deacons, and yes the ministers too take care of each other. We have to be unselfish enough to not always be looking, as a member, for more than our share of TLC from any of the leaders. Then we need to be willing to quickly turn around and pass the love on to others in need. All of us from time to time, like during severe illness and death, should be on the receiving end but not continually. That way there is more balance, less burn out and hopefully we meet the needs jointly.

If we have been touched by the love and grace that Christ has shown us then it no longer becomes a question of "Whose job is it?" but will be a natural reaction to desire to pass on what has been given to us.

Anonymous said...

Ryan, I have a starkly different view about the roles of the preacher v the roles of the eldership. I will not argue the reality that, at many (I might even say most) congregations, the elders have handed over their responsiblities of sheparding the flock to the preacher. But that is not how it should be.

Where in the New Testament do we see any reference to the preacher having the duties of counciling and visiting the sick?

Um... nowhere.

These duties seemed to be handled by elders or passed on to the deacons.

These ideas about the duties of a preacher extending beyond that of studying God's word and preaching/teaching are PURELY a part of our tradition.

There are preachers that become elders/pastors, but not by default.

Just beacuse the preacher/teacher is the most visible person does not make him a part of the leadership team. That kind of cult of personality leadership ultimately leads to divisions and members being tied more to the preacher than to the family.

Let me put it this way, all elders should be teachers, but not all teachers are elders.

I find it very dangerous for an eldership to look to the preacher to prodive "vision" and "direction" for a church. The preacher has a role as a recongized expert, as a resource for the eldership as they study and try to direct a congregation in a heavenly direction. The preacher has a role of stregthinging the knowledge of the local congregation.

Tommy Riggs said...

We basically do expect our ministers to walk on water. We shouldn’t, but corporately we do. I think some of this is because of the corporate nature of the position. Ministers serve groups and in most cases the needs, desires, and preferences of the individuals who make up the groups are very diverse.

I’m not sure Scripture really has a lot to say specifically about roles of ministers and elders/shepherds—just about everything we would apply would be from examples—I just don’t see that as being binding for us today. What I do see from Scripture is that there was a group of elders/shepherds who were responsible for local congregations—choose your word—care? Leadership? Governance?

So the question that has seemed to evolve in this post is who leads and who ministers to a congregation? I think both—ministers and elders.

While I personally don’t feel like an eldership should be like a “board of trustees” making all decisions for a congregation, I do believe they have the responsibility of shepherding the local flock. I believe this involves ministry (care) and leadership through teaching and “vision casting.”

One of the concepts that seems to be the current trend in schools is for the “superintendent” and “board” to work toward being “a team of eight.” I don’t know the exact roots of this model, but it is appealing to me.

I believe ministers’ roles would to a great degree be dictated by the shepherds who choose to employ them. If ministers and elders can work together and complement the gifts God has given them as individuals, it seems to me that all would benefit. I would also point out that ALL of us need to fulfill needs when we see them regardless of whether it is within our area of giftedness or job description. It doesn’t matter whether that is sweeping a floor, making a visit, praying with someone, or teaching/preaching a difficult lesson or series.

As for ministers…..with our current tendencies, I believe in many cases ministers are in the difficult position of teaching elderships which may have been subjected to poor teaching previously. Most ministers feel compelled to share a message (or messages) they believe God desires them to share. As ministers are effective in being able to work with the eldership at the same time teaching and leading, the opportunity for congregational growth seems maximized long term. A huge part of maintaining that “team spirit” is being relational and that means ministering to people. As others have stated, that can not be relegated to one person. We can’t hire one person to do our ministering for us—just as we can’t hire one person to do our evangelizing or our leading, but if the main leader does not model love, most followers will not model/practice it either. Certainly part of the teaching role of ministers is effectively feeding members a balance of milk and meat.

One other trend I’m concerned about is when the senior minister becomes a CEO and the elders are taught to be mainly pastors in a reactionary sense (making visits and caring for the needs of the members of congregations). My concern here is that a “professional minister” who has little vested, personal interest in the congregation would become the main individual making decisions. I believe elders need to be leaders, decision makers, and vision casters.

Charles North said...

Our cultural model of church leadership bears little resemblance to what we see in the NT. The highly educated, highly professionalized minister of today is a product of our corporate, success-driven culture. I sometimes feel like a beneficiary of this system, and sometimes like a victim - draw your own conclusions as to why I'm up at 4:45 reading my blog!!

I know that we all have different gifts. One blessing at Kaufman is that the elders and ministers are very different, but we work together as a real team. I like to think that as a group we provide top quality teaching, preaching, and pastoral care.

Anonymous said...

Charles, you stated, "Our cultural model of church leadership bears little resemblance to what we see in the NT."

You've peaked my curiosity, what should our church leadeship model look like?

Charles North said...

Mark - I've been thinking about your question, and maybe I was wrong. In the NT Paul writes to timothy and he writes to Titus with "qualifications" for elders. The thing is - the 2 lists are different. We combine the lists, but I think the principle is that different churches in different cultures have different expectations and "qualifications" of their leaders. So what does a leader look like in 21st century America? How about Africa? Maybe our corporate model is culturally appropriate.

Anonymous said...

But isn't there a certain amount of consistency between the two passages? In fact, there is a great deal of overlap between the passages.

Here's what I've figured out is the same and different for the two passages:

The husband of one wife
Obedient children
Not violent
Not given to drunkenness
Self Controlled
Able to teach (encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it)
Blameless (Above reproach)
Not quick-tempered (not quarrelsome)

children believe
not overbearing,
not pursuing dishonest gain.
loves what is good
hold firmly to the trustworthy message
not a lover of money
not be a recent convert
good reputation with outsiders

While each of these letters has culturally significant elements, none of these items seem to be driven towards a specific culture. I would say these are more universal in nature.

If you study leadership and what makes a good leader you will see factors such as discipline/self-control, honesty/integrity, and education as common elements in successful, respected leaders. That's kind of what Paul outlines for us. Our elders should not be quiet administrators (as they so often are). They should be visible public leaders.