Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Getting a reputation

After my article on education (in the PCA's ByFaith magazine), I began to speak with the editor about what was next. We decided on a piece on politics and the PCA-- specifically one that encourages PCA folks to be careful about how much they associate their political beliefs with their "boundaries" in the church and kingdom.

I'm looking forward to writing this article, but Marcie was a bit concerned: "are you going to get a reputation?" she asked.

"What sort of reputation is that-- a reputation of being willing to ask hard questions and not accept easy answers? I hope so," I answered.

She responded, "No-- I was thinking about a reputation that no one would want you as their pastor."

Hmm. An interesting thought-- would a church reject me as their pastor because of my writing? Maybe so.

I replied, "I think that any church that would refuse me based on the articles I write on education or politics is probably not a church I would want to pastor anyway."

And the more I've thought about that-- and interacted with others about it-- the more I believe it is true.

Not only that, I think it is true for other areas, as well. Sure, some churches cannot afford to pay as much as their pastor may need-- but would I (or you) want to pastor a church that won't consider it even if they can afford it? How about a church that differs substantially with a candidate-pastor on an area of deep passion-- a social concern, for example, that one party feels is of primary importance while the other is fairly indifferent? Or a candidate-pastor who is involved in other interests-- an additional ministry, or writing, or even a side-business-- and the candidate-church prefers a lesser level of involvement?

We're talking about some underlying issues that run a lot deeper than the "presenting issue"-- and they may indicate such systemic and deep-rooted differences that they could prevent your ministry from being effective in the long-term.

This can be a hard pill to swallow. When you're ready to move (or in search of your first call) then a church that is, in many ways, a pretty good fit may seem appealing enough to overlook these concerns. And it may, indeed, be that appealing-- but I guess my point is that I wouldn't assume that it is until I've considered it very carefully.

Put another way: if a candidate-church was uncomfortable with my writing as an area where I planned to invest a significant amount of time and effort (though my intent would be to not allow it to interfere with my ministry to that church), would I accept a call from them? Right now I doubt it; I think the writing I'm doing (and planning) is important enough-- to me and to the Kingdom-- that I am not willing to give it up. But I have to admit that, since I'm not faced with that decision presently, I can't say exactly how I would respond.

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1 comment:

martha said...

you're in an ideal situation right now to do the writing you want. you don't have a session to answer to, you know that writing on this type of topic is your niche, so you are in the ideal position to do the writing you feel called to do. you have an editor to answer to and everyone else is theoretical. what could be better? martha