Well I’m back! Miss me? For my loyal readers I received your emails, encouraging words, thoughts and prayers to continue the work of keeping this conference transparent and honest. To my critics I appreciate and welcome your debate, as it only promotes more transparency and thoughtful consideration of the factors that have contributed to the dysfunctional state of our conference. Our new president, Calvin Watkins, has made quite an impression on the lay people of SWRC. His charismatic demeanor, humor, and commitment to our plight has been the shot in the arm many have felt that they needed to reinvigorate every level of this conference to begin working towards winning souls. Let’s face it we need a legitimate “soul winner” at the helm. After all that is our mission…remember….”go into all the world?” Like every leader, including POTUS, they have lots of ideas and goals but as time goes on the focus has to narrow to get things done. So…with this I only have one concern…obliging a “honeymoon phase” this time around. I hope Pastor Watkins is more receptive to constructive criticism than my other presidential critics in the past. We have had twelve years of minimal committee oversight and unfortunately we do not have time to moonlight.
As the feedback of this past weekend’s officer’s meeting rolled in, only one true issue caused me to pause to say…. “is this a honeymoon phase?” When it was announced that Pastor Watkins had been appointed the pastor of City Temple SDA church, I began to have concern on the legitimacy of this new executive committee and how they think and if they take their responsibility seriously. This announcement leaves me with only two questions…
- Did Pastor Watkins request this appointment and the executive committee obliged?
- Did the executive committee ask him to take this on?
Let’s take the first question for further examination. Traditionally when a new leader is appointed there is a period for which they call the “honeymoon phase” this phase is a period where pretty much whatever the new leader wants or requests it is usually granted. Let’s assume hypothetically this was the case. Why request the largest church within the conference? Not that every church doesn’t need support, but they have a pastor, and they have seasoned lay leaders who can facilitate growth. It is my opinion that a better reflection of leadership would have been to “model” the leadership you are looking for from your leaders by taking a church, one that is struggling to keep their doors open or one of the churches that was up for being closed at the last constituency meeting. Taking the most successful church in the area that has an established tithe base, in my opinion, does not demonstrate an effective model of turning a church around which we all know many of these churches are in need of. He has the support of not only the members but also administrative officers who attend. Also let’s be honest, the demands to lead this conference with a territory this huge will be so great, he will hardly be present and it will exhaust his energy and we need him as our conference leader not a pastor of a single church. When you start a new job, you have enthusiasm, energy, and optimism, but as the demands weigh on you it spreads you thin, when the exhaustion of wearing so many unnecessary hats kicks in, you begin rethinking your strategy in an effort to save your energy and sanity.
My humble advice to Pastor Watkins is to rethink this position. Perhaps, taking this church would minimize the criticism of playing “favorites” and I could support that move if this territory was not, in my opinion, so huge and in a state of crisis both spiritually and financially. I respect that he is making efforts to unite the brethren and bring a sense of spirituality into the ministerial leadership. It is long overdue, however, ministers also want to see you make a decision and support that decision with transparency and clarity. Is there another option? I’m so glad you asked! A way to have navigated the very sensitive task of choosing the next pastor of City Temple could have been, in my opinion, to organize a search committee comprised of members from City Temple, local area pastors, and the ministerial director. This committee could review resumes, conduct interviews, and make a short list of recommendations to the executive committee. After all, that’s how our new president was elected, right? This would have kept the decision unbiased and fair.
So the next hypothetical is to assume this was the executive committee’s idea in an efforrt to squash and minimize the conflict happening within City Temple over the controversial removal of Pastor Polite leaving them an interim pastor. Cutting the members to participate in this decision continues to plague this conference. Who is going to reject having the president of the conference as their pastor?
Perhaps they wanted to avoid conflict and took the easy route. Which will now leave us already behind before we even get started, in my opinion. A territory this large should have a full time president working to build each and every church within this conference. That takes time, planning, and most of all travel. A conference president should not have to be worried about the demands of a full time pastor, he will not be able to effectively model effective pastoral administration if he is delegating all of his work to his associate pastor. Most pastors in this conference do not have one, so the philosophy of “if the president can you can” goes right out the window by using City Temple as his flagship church. My advice to the executive committee is to READ……and learn how to work with a new “CEO” of sorts, so that you don’t make the mistakes that so many committees have in the past. A board is established for oversight, to ask the hard questions and hold the leader accountable regardless of a “honeymoon phase.”
I think our president has amazing qualities and has great intentions but we will not benefit from those gifts conference wide if he is ready to retire in four years. Let’s face it we are a tough people to lead and work for, knowing that, WE, need to be a board and constituency that evaluates every request from our leaders, from every angle, it’s just good leadership, good business, and most of all common sense.