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Why pastors need strong healthy boundaries (will be a series of posts)

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“The pastor is called so serve God and his people, right?” the person said.

The pastor hesitantly responded with a “Yes.”

“Well then, when one of the people has a need, he should always be there to serve them, right?”

“No.”

At least that is my answer, and the answer of more and more pastors. We all will have our reasons…

Here is a link to the rest of part one of my fleshing this out: http://wp.me/P3etrg-gb

(the conversation above us a construct, not a quote)

 

The damage of congregations ‘firing’ pastors

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I am about to share a rather provocative blog piece. I share it because I think it is important for all congregations to know this reality of the other side of a difficult parting with a pastor. Ministers don’t readily talk about the pain of this if they have experienced it (I have), partly because it just sounds like complaining and sour grapes after the fact. In sharing this, I am not directly accusing Nobleford CRC of doing this or being a “clergy killer” (language used in the linked article), but I also cannot pretend that what is described in the article has nothing to do with what transpired here. It is simply something I believe you should know.

A pastor serves a congregation. Congregations are filled with people who each have their own list of things they expect a pastor to be like and a pastor to do. Those will not be the same for any two people. That means a LOT of expectations are placed on that one pastor. Yet we all agree that the Pastor’s main “boss” is God. Few would object to that, I think. Problem is, if there are 300 people in the congregation they tend to act like 200 bosses (because maybe 100 don’t care too much either way) of the pastor. They do that because they forget the principled statement we all agree to, and/or they believe they themselves are speaking ‘for’ God. When that process goes sideways, goes off the rails, we get the trainwrecks and pain the article speaks of. Being let go from a church is very very personal and very very public, in a way that does not apply to any other job, career or calling I can think of. It involves a person’s spiritual, emotional, psychological, personal self, really all of the person, and so is a shock and hardship at all levels. The article speaks of various aspects of this.

The start of a solution is for church leaders, especially Elders – as support and accountability for the pastor – to learn to ‘see’ how people try to inappropriately make themselves ‘the boss’ of the pastor (Elders sometimes do it too) in a way that displaces what God is calling the Pastor to do. Having seen how this works, they can then help work counter to that sin. Those who are heavily invested in having power over what the Pastor does as a leader have very very subtle and sneaky and nasty ways of disrupting things, so it is not easy to spot.

Anyway, here is the article: http://wp.me/P3etrg-fY

 

Two of the interesting things I’ve read recently

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I have lately been taking up interest in some developments at the denominational level. I am working on a significant blog post related to the denominational picture more than to Nobleford, but it is not fully ready. I’m  not sure it every will be, actually.

Instead, for now, I’ll share a few things by others which I have read recently and which are pretty close to my own views. Transition Team members are especially likely to appreciate the applicability of the second one.

This first one you can skip the first four paragraphs about a particular dispute, and begin reading at the heading “What to make of little progress.” I do agree with him that the self-awareness he writes about is a big part of transformation.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2014/may-web-only/real-transformation-happens-when.html?start=3

This one is by a consultant who has worked with many many churches. He says the single common factor in churches that are dying is their inward focus. Here is his list of warning signs:

Warning Symptoms

  • There are very few attempts to minister to those in the community.
  • Church business meetings become arguments over preferences and desires.
  • Numbers of members in the congregation are openly critical of the pastor, and lay leaders in the church.
  • Any change necessary to become a Great Commission church is met with anger and resistance.
  • The past becomes the hero.
  • Culture is seen as the enemy instead of an opportunity for believers to become salt and light.
  • Pastors and other leaders in the church become discouraged and withdraw from effective leadership.
  • If the churches are a part of a denomination or similar affiliation, meetings of those denominations mirror the churches in lost focus and divisiveness.

http://thomrainer.com/2014/05/31/common-factor-declining-churches/?fb_action_ids=10152407711820129&fb_action_types=og.likes

Happily, not all apply here! But the ones that do will likely sting a little. More hopefully, the prod will be seen as an opportunity to work more on transformation in the congregation!

Relational theology creating dissonance for Doctrinalists

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Well, I’m not going to promise my brain a week off from having to write a blog post. Because instead of taking a break I’ve been overflowing with new thoughts, and now have produced a second one for the week.

This one is very crucial and timely, so I chose not to wait with it (I could have just saved it and published it next week, but it is relevant to some discussions we had at council, for instance, so I did not want too much time to pass. I believe it explains some of why some people have some trouble relating to and understanding my preaching style.

Here it is: http://wp.me/P3etrg-f3

Value integrity

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I feel a need to give my creativity and deeper thinking a rest this week. So instead of creating a new posting I’ll share one I wrote and shared on the CRC network a few weeks ago. It has relevance here, but really addresses a broader issue for all churches.

http://network.crcna.org/pastors/expressed-values-lacking-integrity-lived-values

Power needs to be accountable

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It was a year ago this week that I first arrived in Nobleford. I did not start work until a few weeks later, but time sure has flown by. Much has begun to be done, by God’s grace, and much remains to be done. We are on an interesting journey.

I continue to trust the process we are following, and am convinced that God is at work in and through it.

This week my thoughts turned to how some people regularly refuse to take leadership positions yet do their best to wield power anyway, often with a poor effect. Here is the post: http://wp.me/P3etrg-dz

New partial picture and new reflective article

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I’ve put up another article, which you can read by clicking here.

I also took a shapshot of the front of the church, but can only use a small part of it. If you think about the reason I am here, you will understand why I picked the part I did.