Concluding Pastoral Redemptions…For Now!

Writing this Pastoral Redemption series has been difficult. When I started, I had over 30 stories that I intended to publish. Despite this goal, I believe that some stories are not meant to be shared…For now. In previous times, I did not feel this noble. No, for years I was bitter about many of my church experiences. I did not see God working through them, so I just wanted to play the victim, and felt that when I trash these churches, I am justified. By God’s grace, He never let me write those stories while I was still bitter. Rather, it is only now that I have been able to write any story with two goals in mind:

  1. Write only stories that are humorous
  2. Write only stories that reflect an element of hope and redemption. Remember “God redeems.”

As a result of these goals, some stories I will not share now. Either they are not amusing enough, or they do not display any redemptive qualities…yet. Continue reading “Concluding Pastoral Redemptions…For Now!”

Church Interviews Are Like Speed Dating: Pastoral Redemptions

You have met the person of your dreams, and after knowing them a month, you are ready to marry them. Most people on hearing the last sentence would raise prudent caution. Friends would ask you to slow the relationship. They might even try to talk you out of the hasty engagement. It is not because they want you to ruin your happiness. No, like many in our culture they believe a rushed engagement is unhealthy and will lead to future unhappiness.

Similarly, many congregational churches use this “speed date” method to hire their next pastor. To be fair, not all congregational churches use this approach, but many churches and pastors reflect this “speed date experience.” It goes something like this: Continue reading “Church Interviews Are Like Speed Dating: Pastoral Redemptions”

Delays: Pastoral Redemptions

The last post on “The Church Parsonage is Not a Benefit” was written to set up the next post. This post will be published on Friday 11-August-2017. The next post deals with a very sensitive subject from the churches I pastored. To represent the full story, accept my responsibility, and show God’s redemption from the story an extra day is needed. It is a massive post with a lot of details, and I want to represent the events and people well. Please come back tomorrow to read it then.

The Church Parsonage Is Not A Benefit: Pastoral Redemptions

****The benefit of a church parsonage in 2017 is debatable. It is such a concern that I am republishing this article again since it fits within the Pastoral Concern series. Therefore, read and enjoy this article because it is thought provoking. Plus, it will provide the needed background for the next post. A post that will expand on this concept of pastoriums as I expose my faults from my experiences with a church parsonage.****

Many traditional and older churches have a parsonage or pastorium they offer to their pastors while they serve their church. The concept is that in addition to the salary provided it’s a “free” place to live and a benefit to the pastor. In some cases, it is a benefit, but in others, it’s not. For example, some churches wrongfully use the parsonage as a means to control the pastor or check-in to see if he or she is doing one’s job. A well-known Alabama pastor who used to work for the State Board of Missions shared with me that, “One Saturday I received a knock on the door and it was a committee from the church who had arrived to do a ‘surprise’ inspection.” For ministers whose lives are already like living in a fish bowl the parsonage only adds to the pastor’s stress and the church’s.

In contrast, some churches have a very healthy use of the homes they offer for their pastors. One parsonage I knew even had a Jacuzzi-hot tub. Despite such amenities, churches should reconsider their offers and demands that pastors live in a home owned by the church. Often this “benefit” to the pastor only helps the church long-term. In fact, it can put a pastor at a disadvantage later in life. For example:

  1. Lower Credit Rating
  • Payments in one’s life such as utilities, car notes, credit cards, etc. also impact one’s credit score. Also, some of a person’s credit rating is based on the housing payment made each month. Housing payments can include mortgage or a rental payment. As a result, pastors who do not make a house payment affect his or her credit score. Fortunately, one’s credit score is not solely determined by one’s housing payment, but churches need to know that requiring a pastor to stay in their parsonage has long-term financial consequences.

Continue reading “The Church Parsonage Is Not A Benefit: Pastoral Redemptions”

Learning From Our Mistakes: Pastoral Redemptions

“Let’s start with what you did wrong at the church before we talk about this church’s faults!” 

This one suggestion became a turning point for me. By my friend asking it, I began to process and heal from pastoring some very challenging churches. Before my friend’s comment, much of my discussion about these churches were focused on their faults, and not mine. Yes, the churches I pastored had significant issues. Each one was a “preacher eater” church, which means they had a long history of their pastors leaving consecutively under tense circumstances. However, this truth did not mean I was faultless. No, I made my mistakes, but in those errors, Christ is greater and His glory shows in each situation.

Starting with the next post, I will be occasionally sharing with you some stories from my time at these churches. As I share these posts I will continue to write other entries too. But, as I write about these churches know that you will see my errors. Let me say that again: “YOU WILL SEE MY ERRORS!” Being vulnerable and admitting my mistakes is necessary. Otherwise, I am leaving out the areas where Christ’s gospel moved me from sin to grace, from death to life.

Also, you will see a dire picture of the church. Some of the stories will be amusing; even more will be haunting. Some stories will be short; some will be long. Most importantly, these posts are not meant to shock you with church horror stories. Nor are they a means to just “get things off my chest.” Rather, they are aimed to show Christ’s redemptive gospel.

Due to these caricatures, great care will be given to sterilize the names mentioned in each story. If names are used then aliases will be provided instead of their real names. Many of these people are God’s people, and I still want the best for their faith in Christ.

Restoration in the Gospel and in God’s grace for every circumstance is what I have learned most from these experiences. Much pain and hurt occurred, but it is a two-way street. One where either side caused grief when we did not realize it. Thankfully, the Gospel does not stop at salvation. It continues to redeem, restore, and sanctify us for the rest of our lives. As Joseph said in Genesis 50:20, “what was intended for evil, God intended for good.” Christ came to redeem everything for His glory. My prayer then is that the Holy Spirit will show His grace with each story because the same applies to your story too!