Monday, February 16, 2009

Clergy Appointments in North Alabama

We have recently added to our conference website the following video on how the North Alabama Conference is making clergy appointments: Click Here. I offer this as an invitation for every congregation to be clear about its mission and what it is doing in ministry so that clergy with the right gifts and graces may be sent to serve.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I wonder how the crises-bent of our appointment making changes. No concrete examples were given of the said mission appointment in the presentation in our Conference (SCJ). Clergy-congregational fit always seems to have been the ideal since I was preparing for full time pastoral ministry in the early 80's.

Clergy in our system are generally sinfully passive when compared to other denominations and need self-empowerment and to be proactive! It's the responsibility of every clergy member to be intentional about the ministry they are about, and to explore and develop any and all gifts to the best of their God-given ability.

Scott Endress
Duke Divinity, 1983

Eric + said...

My only thought was that the "measurement" criteria seems a bit off to me. The things measured were attendance, membership, confessions of faith, etc. It seems to me a much better indicator to include (not neglecting the above mentioned things) how many homeless were housed, how many jobless were trained, how many hungry were fed, how many captive to addiction were freed, how many imprisoned in their own homes due to age and/or poor health were visited, etc. In the grand scheme of salvation, there seems to me a progression:

1) The work of the church: feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, freeing the addicted, etc. These things a pastor has a direct ability to influence. It is often the pastors task to cast a vision for ministry and to empower and enable the people for ministry.

2) The work of the Spirit: convicting, saving, sanctifying, etc. Often we evaluate pastoral performance based on the work of the Spirit. Asking how many people "got saved" under a pastor's leadership is a somewhat faulty question. Pastors can love people. Only the Spirit can "add to our numbers."

3) The work of the person: responding to the work of the Spirit, joining the church, attending worship, doing ministry. This is the responsibility of every person. Too often pastor's get credit or blame for the choices of a given person. Pastors can do much to aide in this decision, but ultimately the person has to join in the work of the church -- where the pastor really has the opportunity to lead.


Just a couple thoughts...

William H. Willimon said...

Eric

I find much to agree with in your response. Of course discipleship in the name of Jesus Christ is more than numbers. But numbers are people.

The reason why my church is doing so much less in feeding the hungry, reaching out to the poor, etc. is that my church has lost 20% of its people in the past 20 years! A larger proportion of our funds are going into administration of the church and paying for pastors, simply because we have about the same number of pastor we had 20 years ago but 20% fewer people. You don't have to check into the numbers of poor being ministered to, etc. I'll tell you -- much less of our resources is going into mission and ministry now than in the past because 1. We have fewer people and therefore less resources, and 2. We have pastors and churches that think the church is some sort of club for the spiritually enlightened and therefore care very little for those who have not yet heard the gospel or who don't feel welcomed in that congregation.

I don't know if you are a United Methodist or not, but our great problem, and the one we appear not to know how to address, is fewer people who are United Methodist. I've got some congregations who are doing some admirable work among the poor, but too many of them are doing that work through endowments or simply through older folks in the congregation who won't be there to do this good work in just a few years.

I am not so much interested in doing good things for the poor as in proclaiming to the poor that the Kingdom of God is for them. I want poor people in our churches! So when we focus on numbers, as a reliable guide to what God is doing through a pastor's leadership and a church's ministry, we are talking about more people, more people who hear the gospel and say, "Yes, that includes me!"

Will

William H. Willimon said...

Scott -- you are right on target in your second paragraph.

Eric + said...

Thanks, Bishop Willimon. And no, I am not a United Methodist. I am a Nazarene -- a denomination which if facing many of the same issues you seem to be addressing. I appreciate your response.