Monday, July 10, 2006

Of making books there is no end... (Eccl. 12:12)

I've started to get motivated toward putting much of the stuff of this blog into a book.

While I've written about placement and transition from all perspectives, one of the perspectives that is closest to my heart is the transition from seminary into ministry. I think I would like to start with that.

What do you think (if I have any readers left!): could this become a book?

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T. Chris said...


I've learned from your blog. You should go for it.

Chris Crain

P.S. I'm staying with Gary B. while we wait to close on our house in Columbia.

martha said...

after 40+ years in the ministry (mostly pastor's wife) who has been intimately involved in this process, I have no doubt that you have great insights on finding a job. For me, I look at a person's experience and from what I've read, you haven't actually gone from seminary to a pastorate. Information is helpful, but information w/o the modifying of personal, first hand experience can often come across way to idealistically and even harshly to the person not following all the steps in the process.
our experience has been that following the process hasn't worked out that well for us. i guess often God has had plans for us that didn't always involve our first preference. that is the nature of "ministry". we do what God calls us to where He puts us. There have been a lot of places that have been very difficult...but ultimately rewarding. i was talking to a friend in miami who is having difficulty now in finding people to work on the staff of his church--why? b/c they want to live in more comfortable parts of the country to raise their families! i could understand that if we were in a liberal denomination, but not in the pca! of course, not everyone is called to minister in a multicultural city or in a lonely isolated small town in the midwest like we are now (in my husand's "retirement") but the calling and ministry side of what we are doing can sometimes be forgotten as we work on our "profession" and idealism in finding a church to pastor.
hopefully, you will have enough personal experience in what you write about b/f you write a book that you will regret in 20 or 30 yrs. i remember how idealistic i was when i was younger re everything from child rearing to ministry to housekeeping. it must have been difficult for some of our struggling members. fortunately, i listened to my husband's advice when he told me not to spout off. am i ever glad!
now i spouted:) what i said will be meaningless to you i know, but i feel better now that i have warned you. martha

Ed said...

Chris-- thanks for the encouragement.

Martha-- thanks to you also. I appreciate both the encouragement and the caution. What you've mentioned is something that I'm aware of as a weakness in my perspective.

My responses to this criticism are these (not to be defensive-- I genuinely want your feedback):

1. I didn't transition from seminary into pastoral ministry, but I did transition into ministry. Further, I've transitioned into pastoral ministry before-- twice, in fact.
2. My writing is based heavily on my experience, but also on my research-- and a lot of "my reflections" on the subject of transition come out of the surveys, interviews, and other research I have done.
3. I hope to fulfill a transition into pastoral ministry soon-- my educational ministry doesn't preclude a part-time pastoral call by a local church. I'm eager to exercise just such a transition, and I hope for an opportunity.

Do these balance out my inexperience adequately?

I also agree with your caution about idealism. I hope that little or none of my writing and reflections come across as idealistic-- I am keenly aware (from experience and the advice of others, like yours) that strict idealism is seldom helpful in circumstances like this.

Thanks again for writing. your comments.

martha said...

i do not mean to come across critically. i have found that it has been frustrating to do "homework" re our gifts, strengths/weaknesses, etc. only to find churches that are very unwilling (often unable) to do the same analyses on themselves b/c they are in a rush to "find a pastor". they don't seem to realize the it takes so much more time to clear the rubble from the mess after they have gotten the wrong fit of a pastor b/c they tho't they were the church they were, say 20 or 30 years ago.

and what pastor, when asked his weaknesses, can truly say he has to deal with procrastination as a weakness. most churches don't look at his advanced degrees and realize he has obviously learned to deal with it in more than a superficial way or he wouldn't be doing what he is doing...
these are only SOME minor situations we have seen happen in our ministry life as we candidated.

i think the majority of churches choose based on feeling. they may find other reasons to explain their reasons behind choosing or not choosing a pastor, but i think that has a LOT to do with it. we can hope their gut feelings are guided by the Holy Spirit and prayer...maybe a few checklists, but feelings and emotions guide a LOT of it i'm sure. yes, the sovereignty of God is overall. i hang onto that all the time. i just wonder some days if all the work we did on "self-evaluation" wasn't a waste of time. God led us to some churches we would have never gone to, given our personal choice, checklists, and many standards of logic,etc.
i think the "problem" is that my husband is a kind, tenderhearted, teacher of a man who loves God's Word but doesn't fit a lot of neat categories in our denomination. his preference is to work on a staff. evidently, God had other plans.
God has used him to go to churches with good to great histories who are dying. he has never made a splash. he just has plugged along teaching God's Word in churches that have had more than one split...often based on how reformed people were. when we got to those churches, we found that the attitudes were even more negative than we thought toward anything reformed. he taught the concepts from scripture and then told people the words for those concepts after they realized how biblical they were:) when you think about it, it's not a bad way to go. he doesn't try to change the churches in a year, he doesn't try to build a big church, he just preaches the GOSPEL of grace. that's what all pastors are called to do isn't it?
not every church has gone on to do well after we left...some were too far gone b/f we came, some were surrounded by too many other great pca churches. but all came to realize what the gospel was, the changes that needed to happen (tho' they may not have been willing to make them) and the Kingdom was advanced...including our three children that have grown and love the Lord.
in my youth, i knew that once we figured out our gifts, matched them up with a church, we would be good to go. of course, that was an extremely naive idea. unfortunately, i find that idea just as prevalent, if not more so now. i agree that churches need to be responsible re how they pay pasotors, respect toward their spiritual leaders (elders). we, as f/t pastors (and families), need to be open to positions where we have to trust God when we know we don't have the tools/gifts we need for the job (cf. David/Goliath, Gideon/300 army,and many other incidents in scripture). many times the job God has for us, requires trusting Him to supply what we do not have to show His glory in the situation where He puts us. we may not make a splash, but if we are doing the work He gave us to do, that is what is the most important thing from an eternal perspective. martha