Sunday, May 09, 2010

Indoor pets

A friend recently asked me to help him evaluate a few churches that he was candidating with, and some of them had Church Information Forms (which is sort of a church-side equivalent to the Ministerial Data Form in the Presbyterian Church in America).

Part of this form has a place to rank "Pastoral Strengths Desired"-- things like Preaching, Evangelism, Youth Work, Community Service, etc. At the very bottom, there's a place for "Other" and a blank.

One of these congregations had ranked Other as one of the highest (ranked 7 on a scale of 1 to 7), among maybe three that were similarly ranked. What had they indicated as "Other" that was such a high priority?

No Indoor Pets.

Really? That's one of your top three strengths desired? Really?!?

On the one had, there's an honesty to that, and I acknowledge the truth of that self-report. But on the other hand, I have real concerns about the degree to which an incoming pastor has opportunity for real and meaningful gospel ministry in a congregation that is choosing their next pastor in large measure by whether they will bring indoor pets to the manse/parsonage.

There's revitalization where difficult circumstances can be overcome by gospel priorities-- and then there is a context where spiritual barrenness has already set in, and the congregation is past the point of no return. I counseled my friend to pass this one by.

Churches: if you're finding things like this turn up as priorities in the process of searching for a new pastor, you should serious rethink whether you are indeed ready for a pastor who is coming to invest energy, time, and intellectual and spiritual resources in your well-being.

1 comment:

Aubrey said...

As expected, you had a little more insightful commentary than me about this. Jeff and I were just shocked that a church would actually rank the pet situation higher than preaching of the word. Unbelievable.

I definitely agreed with your post about "wife to assist". Obviously, those are not even an option for us, since I will most certainly continue to work part time (I hope) when we move.

Thanks again for your email to Jeff and willingness to help. We appreciate it.