MINISTERS IN THE CROSSHAIRS: ARE YOU IN THEIR SITE?

Pow! Pow! Pow! You can hear the sounds of a gun firing at “ducks on a row” as the shooter aims and hits these plastic targets. One by one the ducks fall and hit the ground.

This may sound as if I am over doing it but it gets the point across. Sooner than later many ministers are going to face reassignment that will make an impact on their life and ministry. Moves might be considered as “good” for some and “bad” for most. Among ministers there is a phrase that says, “When you move, you lose.” This means that you are so deep in financial debt and family crisis that you never recover. Each move leads to a deeper hole.

Some years ago a writer on church administration stated that in the first two years in a new church, the first great threat to a minister will come and threaten his/her ministry. The writer went on to state that if the pastor survives the first two-year threat, the next crisis might occur three years after the first threat–that is in his/her fifth year. He noted that this discovery happens across denominational lines.

This means for you or your favorite member you might find yourself in the crosshairs of conference administration and the executive committee. So I thought that you might want to know how to “discern” whether you might be in their crosshairs. Here are ten signs share with me by ministers in this field that you might want to consider to determine if the “sites of the end” are on you.

  1. You View The Members Of Your Church As “Demons”: Preacher, when you reach this point of descriptive imagination nobody appears to be good anymore. Why? Because the majority appear to be against you.
  2. You See Your Members As Tale-Bearers: That’s right preacher, they report to the conference every misdeed and every negative thing that you have done and haven’t done to the president.
  3. Unexpected Guests: When you stand up at the podium to preach, you just happen to notice a conference official such as the treasurer or secretary and they haven’t been to your church in five years. Chills run up and down your body followed by goose bumps. You ask in your mind, “what the…are they doing here today?” Be honest to yourself, they didn’t show up because they liked your preaching.
  4. Your Wife Hates The Church And Can’t Stand To Go With You Anymore: Now wives I know you don’t work for the church, but your desperate husband is only trying to hold on to his ministry because he is CONVICTED and also understands that you may not want to move. So wife, give that man a break! Kiss the members anyhow and support your husband. Realize that he is under a lot of stress at the moment, but please let them know how much he cares.
  5. Going for juggler: Really? The first area of ministry members attack will be your sermons. They begin to compare you to someone who lacks your credentials–members will declare him or her to be the best thing that has come to the church in a long time. They will sell a mule that can “hee-haw” to the conference administration. When your wife “likes” the guest speaker’s “hee-haw” you are definitely on the president’s hit list.
  6. If You Were In The Wrong “Tank” or “Team” Headed To Put the President Out Of Office: Duck If You Can: Believe me, most presidents and their team (with the exception of our current) don’t forget and become revengeful waiting for an event or circumstances to pull the trigger. Go to an army salvage store and get yourself a bullet proof vest—it might work.
  7. You Can’t Reinvent Yourself: Think about what I am suggesting. People always want a new car with the latest equipment. The whistles and the bells! If you find yourself driving the same car of yesteryear, you are in the view of more than one crosshairs.
  8. You Go To The Doctor And Complain Of Stomach Problems: I mean when you think about church it causes you to run to the bathroom. You go to the doctor and he or she suggests that you should consider another occupation. Sorry, it’s pow, pow time.
  9. The Members Complain To You and The President That You Don’t Visit: It makes you so darn mad that your reply to your elders and board “that you don’t visit either.” Members, how can you make gumbo without Rue? It’s a team effort ministers need your support with this.
  10. Last Of All, You Have No Solutions To Make The Church A Better Place: Remember Ali’s fight with Larry Holmes? Angelo Dundee threw the towel into the ring when the Greatest was helpless on the ropes? Well, at this point in your tenure, the wife might be carrying several white towels. She knows you are done in and beaten up by the blows of the members. She sees you out on your feet ready for a final count but she doesn’t throw the towel in. Well, worse than this, you are in the crosshairs.

In Retrospect:

Years ago a minister was sent to a seminary. After a year or two he robbed a bank. After evaluation as to why he did it, he replied, “I did it so that I could get out of ministry.” He was always in the crosshairs of moves brought on by compassionate and sometimes thoughtless members. He didn’t have the guts to resign and move on to something else.

I feel that we have some men/women who are at this state. Conference administration, before you shoot, look at the consequences. Is there a new process of thinking or new approach we can take?

~The Forgotten Shepherdess

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About The Forgotten Shepherdess

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12 Responses to MINISTERS IN THE CROSSHAIRS: ARE YOU IN THEIR SITE?

  1. Anonymous says:

    Lawyered Up:

    Are you for real? Do you really think that some moves might violate laws of the U. S, government? I find this hard to believe.

    Can someone out there verify this?

    Anonymous

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  2. GONE NUTS says:

    Marian:

    I love the discussion: I want to talk to people who disagree with me. I am not perfect. My mind is open for change in opinion. This is how you grow.

    I never said that the bible is not germaine to our time. I said that we must look at and interpret scripture from the point of time, place and culture. And I am not against moves when it is for a good purposes and good reasons. We cannot take every instances in the bible and say it works in the 21st century. In the illustration there are timeless principles that we must find and apply. So understand what I am saying in reference to illustrations that you pointed too. Let’s not be like the dispensationist who allegorize scripture–is what we are striving not to do. God does not–I repeat–God does not condone unfairness, injustice, revenge, hatred etc. God says He repays.

    In my previous comment much of what I have written is being discussed among other conference organization. Why are moves today being extended from 2-3 years or less 20-30 years ago? Because, progressive leaders have learned that: they can’t afford it, it’s disruptive to families, it doesn’t help congregations to work through their problems and grow etc.

    Here is where we do agree: Some moves are neccessary for both the minister and congregation. But, if you are listening to me and I think you are, then my arguement centers around unwarranted moves for the wrong reasons. So we are coming to a center in our discussion. I don’t believe that you could accept a leader who would move you for the wrong reasons. Yes, we all have been moved to places we don’t like and accepted and did our work–but it does not make bad decisions right. Because we went does not mean that we must accept the reasons.

    Right now people are anticipating the possible disruption of their lives. Will we still continue in old methods?

    — GONE NUTS

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  3. Marian says:

    GONE NUTS,

    I will disagree vehemently that the Bible is not germaine to our times! That being said, I think we are of a different opinion about moves. – I love this blog because it allows for this discussion. :)))))

    In my lifetime, I have never been a field where everyone was happy with the moves made for pastoral families – even when the move did not require a physical relocation, just a change of a church location. I will believe as I look as the guidelines of this church. pastoral families WILL BE MOVED. Since we cannot control other people (administrators who may not be led of the Lord), we must learn to accept the Lord’s not intervening to stop the unpleasant move. We need to make our own circumstances, and this applies to pastor and pew members alike. I don’t see in the Scriptures anywhere where the Lord encourages whiners! A wise older person once told me, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” The longer I live, the more it makes sense. I CAN control my attitude when I can’t control my circumstances.

    In corporate America, I hear women speak about changes made to their spouse’s life which did not please them. The women I have admired are the ones who have made the best of a bad situation. Pastor’s wives have the privilege of doing that as well. The Ellen White quote about prayer that is often passed around ends with ” we need to stop rehearsing the difficulties”. Let’s stop worrying about what administration will or will not do – just go to the Lord. He says vengenance is His – He will repay. I don’t plan to be on the end of His vengegance. I want to at my post doing the best with the gifts and abilities He has given me. It makes for a lot less stressful life.

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  4. GONE NUTS says:

    Marian:

    Thanks for your reply. Again it is illogical to compare one generation of how they did things against another. I am not advocating no moves.We would not be able to get the work done or do business. Obviously men/women are going to be moved. What you might be advocating might only be in theory. We cannot isolate stories from the bible and declare we should accept inequality today. This is not an understanding of the text you are allluding too. The principle might be that God is with us “despite” injustice, unfairness, and deliberate destruction of human life.We might title the sermonic story, “God Works Things Out For The Good, Inspite of What People Do”.The bible, in the case of Joseph, does not teach that we are to accept the injustices of human leaders–or not to fight against it. What the bible does say is that God remembers those who posit injustices and inequity on people, and He will hold leaders accountable for those deliberate discisions. Now, are blessings still available when a minister gets a bad deal? Yes! Joseph is a good illustration–but God dealt with his mean and jealous brothers. I think one of the lessons might be on the subject of FAITHFULNESS IN THE SHADOW OF BAD PEOPLE!

    Fast forward to our time. There are biblical principles of leadership in the bible that I believe are universal when we look at them in the the proper context. Obviously, Mose’s ideal of leadership was not the best and God used Jethro to show him a better way. Once you conclude that there exists NO areas to improve on how we move men/women, you are locked into the past. After much study of this past process I can conclude that there is (are) better methods. Here is a universal principle: A good leader will move workers for good reasons and for a good purpose.” Not for political positioning or for punishment”. Every president of previous administrations have violated this principle. When you talk to them about it they will tell you they moved people for all the good reasons. Impossible–when some have been caught in a tale. Most all of them have had no experience or training in managemenet, leadership and human resources; yet alone worked out in the real world leading a corporation, a battalion of soldiers, where Executive Boards would wnat to no their qualification/training in these specific areas. For some, the only job they may have had was pastoring a church. Lacking these skills have hurt our conference, pastors, teachers and even members.

    Finally, it sounds to me that you might be torn between two opinions: First, the opinion of SOME hateful and evil members who paint a terrible picture of their pastor when they are in crisis (at some time we will all be in a crisis). There attitude is “let’s get rid of him/her anyway we can”, without thinkiing about the consequence (remember Joseph). Second, moves. How do we move workers and remain spiritually correct–instead of politically correct. The only way a leader can adequetly do it spiritually ( which I assume you will agree) is through a close connection with the Holy Spirit. Praying without ceasing to make the right decisions. The outgoing Defense Secretary, Gates, on television in an interview expressed deep remorse and sadness when asked about the many soldiers that died during his tenure. They say it was tearful. What remorse or emotion does a leader have knowing that they have sent a man/women into battle knowing that it might have real consequences on their lives, marriage, churches , children, education, ministry, member, emotional stability and the list can grow. Yet, we have fought two wars because of selfish interest and warped thinking by top leaders. Should leader be given a bye and let them keep sending our soldiers oversees without proper scrutinization by congressional leaders? No! Oversight is most important in every organization.

    I have learned much from your comments.

    –GONE NUTS

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  5. BACK FIELD IN MOTION says:

    Marian:

    I have to give you your due whether we disagree or not, you are a great writer and address the issues honestly and sanely from your perspective. I agree with you about the churches 100%. I hope the new administration will adrress and listen to your comment which is a great observation. Thank you for your cool and calm attitude. This blog needs that “kind”, level personality to keep the discussions moving. I learn so much from your comments.

    The reason I disagree concerning the moves is because of logic. It would appear to me to be illogical to campare 21st century ministry to biblical times. This is something that in our exegetical and hermaneutical study of scriptures we are advised that we should be careful about. Culture changes and so does methodology. When ministers and wives signed up for ministry they did not sign up for workforce inequality. If you look at previous elections you might notice that some men are where they are because of political pay offs and deals. Some men are held back because of personality descrimination (deliberately painting a picture of someone in a negative way to keep them back) or never given the opportunitry to be in a place where they can demonstrate their skills. As I have written, ministry is not the same as it was 20-40 years ago. Conferences are not moving the work force in the way they did so many years ago becasuse they recognize that what I have written about disruption of family and marriages, are factual. Even the so called Falcon would not consider taking a smaller district because a president thought it to be wise or in the best interest of politics. Please, let’s be real, politics is a fact of life–and because men or women use the “title” of position doesn’t mean that is of God. How many presidents of the past were trained, educated and ready to be an administrator? How many men have died early because they were sent somewhere they shouldn’t have been sent too. Most ministers are self preservationist. They don’t care what happens to the other guy or girl but are concerned about what happens to them. This is a fact in social behavior. what’s in it for me..

    In fact if what you are advocating is correct we WOULD NOT see some of the younger men in pastoral districts today compared to the prevailing mentality of yesterday. Two or three presidents back change rules of the old school, Sorry that day may be gone.

    No, I am not saying that no moves should take place. Move men for the right reasons not for personal gain or revenge. Also, don’t let petty members have their way as they complain to the president. When a president comes to a church give the minister all the respect you can. Work out his problems privately in most cases. Make sure you did everything from an administration level to make him/her successful.

    I make no apologies…

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  6. Marian says:

    GONE NUTS, thanks for your kind words. I will try to live up to your expectations of level-headedness. I disagree about the moves – guess we will have to agree to disagree. :)))) Moves have a benefit for all concerned – if we will allow the Lord to be in the business. Just like Joseph could say in Genesis 50, “you meant it for harm, BUT GOD worked it out for our good.” Churches, if they are secure in their own identity, will benefit from pastoral change because each man brings a different set of gifts and abilities to be used in conjunction with the church. Pastors benefit because they are challenged to grow and develop facets of their personality they may not have developed because they have not operated outside their comfort zone.

    Yes, pastoral families are moved because some people are small minded. Remember, conference committees, made up of both laity and pastors, could stop any move a president sought to make – they usually don’t! I still believe a call to the Adventist Ministry in the 21st century may still entail a move! No, it’s not easy, but if God is in it (because He has called the man), in spite of the reasons behind the move, the pastor and his family will handle the move with style and grace. I will continue to believe the church is God’s one objective of supreme regard on this earth. Until He comes, He will bless those who rely upon Him.

    We can’t use the size of a district, church or responsiblity to determine “success” in ministry. The standards for success in God’s work have to be differrent from those of the corporate world. Pastors need to stop plotting their careers based upon the size of the church or the position held. Some of these pastors lack of cohesive family and marriages that demonstrate the power of God because they are busy being successful.

    This is an opportunity for churches to step up and not allow the conference or workers to define them – “this isn’t a good district, this isn’t a big church”. If I am a member of some of these “unimportant” churches I would be very offended. Since God does not look down on anyone – why should I allow man to do so?

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  7. GONE NUTS says:

    Marian:

    I have to give you your due whether we disagree or not, you are a great writer and address the issues honestly and sanely from your perspective. I agree with you about the churches 100%. I hope the new administration will adrress and listen to your comment which is a great observation. Thank you for your cool and calm attitude. This blog needs that “kind”, level personality to keep the discussions moving. I learn so much from your comments.

    The reason I disagree concerning the moves is because of logic. It would appear to me to be illogical to campare 21st century ministry to biblical times. This is something that in our exegetical and hermaneutical study of scriptures we are advised that we should be careful about. Culture changes and so does methodology. When ministers and wives signed up for ministry they did not sign up for workforce inequality. If you look at previous elections you might notice that some men are where they are because of political pay offs and deals. Some men are held back because of personality descrimination (deliberately painting a picture of someone in a negative way to keep them back) or never given the opportunitry to be in a place where they can demonstrate their skills. As I have written, ministry is not the same as it was 20-40 years ago. Conferences are not moving the work force in the way they did so many years ago becasuse they recognize that what I have written about disruption of family and marriages, are factual. Even the so called Falcon would not consider taking a smaller district because a president thought it to be wise or in the best interest of politics. Please, let’s be real, politics is a fact of life–and because men or women use the “title” of position doesn’t mean that is of God. How many presidents of the past were trained, educated and ready to be an administrator? How many men have died early because they were sent somewhere they shouldn’t have been sent too. Most ministers are self preservationist. They don’t care what happens to the other guy or girl but are concerned about what happens to them. This is a fact in social behavior. what’s in it for me..

    In fact if what you are advocating is correct we WOULD NOT see some of the younger men in pastoral districts today compared to the prevailing mentality of yesterday. Two or three presidents back change rules of the old school, Sorry that day may be gone.

    No, I am not saying that no moves should take place. Move men for the right reasons not for personal gain or revenge. Also, don’t let petty members have their way as they complain to the president. When a president comes to a church give the minister all the respect you can. Work out his problems privately in most cases. Make sure you did everything from an administration level to make him/her successful.

    I make no apologies…I’M GONE NUTS

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  8. Marian says:

    Gone Nuts, I DO agree with you about the establishment of churches – we ought to be thoughtful about resources (money, personnel) BEFORE we decide to set up churches. Sounds like the need for a strategic plan which looks at both short and long term goals. It is not fair to members of these churches to receive the “leftovers” because the conference has not planned responsibly for their long-term growth and maintainence.

    I realize moves are costly. However, that does not preclude moves in the Adventist church! If we look over our lives and see how the Lord has worked in the past with His children in the Scriptures, as well as how He has worked in our own lives, sometimes we find ourselves in places we would not choose. The Lord has lessons for us to learn, when we allow Him to teach us. Pastors AND their wives know up front, moves are a part of the package of ministry. (This conference is one of the few who only moves SOME people). I’m sure if you were to speak with some pastors who have long experience, they and their families would tell you places they were sent to unwillingly turned out to be a blessing in disguise. When we learn to listen to the voice of the Lord, He will show us what we are supposed to do – no matter where we find ourselves.

    Yes, churches are in a three-way partnership, but if they don’t know who they are first, it is a challenge for someone, the conference or the pastor to figure out how to mesh their talents and bring about the growth and maturity that is often expected. It’s time for churches to define themselves, not expect their identity to come from their pastor!

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  9. GONE NUTS says:

    Marian:

    Welcome back! I’d like to take sides on this one with you because I don’t think you considered the other option. Some churches should have never been organized. They may have been started for the wrong selfish reasons. A along this line of thought someone’s vaccuous personality may have been interwoven into their thinking that yes prevents church growth and peace. At a lecture in another city an expert on church growth pointed out that some churches may need to be shut down and started all over again. He pointed out that some are resistent to change, strategic planning, small groups etc. There are churches within our field that we can consider to be pastor “killers”.

    I do agree that some pastors should never have been ordained or sent to any church. Unfortunately if you baptize 100 souls that makes you a pastor even when you are a devil (sexual misconduct, shrinkage) and still allowed to pastor you might consider the people who knew of his sins “workers of iniquity”.

    Finally, times have changed since the years of the 60’s, 70’s. Moves are costly. It destroys familiies. They are also political which cannot be of God, and therefore at times unequally distributed and many times unfair. As pointed out by the above writer the average length of time in a church is still about 5 years. Why? If you stayed on a job for 30 years obviously you had to figure out how to get along with people. And employers had to figure out how to devlop you. The devlopment of a congregation is a three way street–conference, pastor and congregation. Apparentlly there is a breach in this three way relationship that shortens district periods. When one of the three are missing then you won’t have development.

    I believe, before a worker is moved they should be interviewed by the president and then told why they are being moved and where–whether he or she likes the move or not. This is a start to better things in the 21st century.

    GONE NUTS

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  10. Marian says:

    Hmmm… I hear and understand the concern. However, church members need to realize the church is actually THEIRS!!!!! They are there as pastors come and go. If they have not decided to take responsibility for themselves, they can complain to the conference forever – things won’t change because they won’t! I have lived across this division and I have seen churches who knew they were the “dumping ground” of the conference. I also saw those churches determine the conference could not and would not define them – they rose above and helped whoever was sent to become a better pastor!

    When a pastor feels he is no longer where he should be, he does need to do some self examination. The conference should not define him, either. Some people who are pastors should NEVER have been made pastors, and now no one has the courage to stand and say this is not working. Please look for something else to do. If men and their wives don’t want to be moved, they should not have joined the Advent MOVEMENT!!!!

    We’ll see what happens as the committee makes it’s first decisions. One thing for certain – everyone will not be happy.

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  11. Welcome Lawyered Up: New blood is always great! I hope the conference will recognize that these are the issues that ministers and workers need to communicate. Open dialogue is so important. My top ten came from a collection a ministers in and out of the field. This is stuff they talk about all the time but are not yet free to discuss openly with administration. How can we fix this? Break down the door and open up dialogue. ~The Forgotten Shepherdess

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  12. LAWYERED UP says:

    I’m scared

    Will they get me. If they get me what about you?

    Take notice…if the conference doesn’t demonstrate equity in moving men in the office, as a lawyer I see potential legal and government issues. You can’t have mecy on the guy who gets elected out of office and not move him to Muskogee who has been in the office 30 years and punish the person who wasn’t for you. There must be a parody of some sort. You see it is like this-a minister is a minister…period. Once there is proven favoritism you have ventured out of the realm of the chuch into an area the church hates. We call it class action.

    LAWYERED UP

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