Okay,I've heard the rumors and speculation about the recent turnovers on our staff. I can say that, although they are creative-, they are not true! It is difficult to be a parishioner- a committed member of a church- and trust that the Pastor and Elders are making intelligent, godly, spiritually informed decisions.But these decisions are generally made behind closed doors. So maybe these decisions should be made out in the public?
Before I reveal the dirty details, Let's look at the reasons why church staffing issues are handled the way they are. Unlike your job, the minister's life is a very public one. The mere fact of that publicity is a great hardship on the healthiest of families. Moreover, the minister has to do more than his job. He is invited into our fellowship and family based upon his commitment to faithful service to God's people (the church) and moral integrity in leadership. Jesus warned us in John 10 against using hirelings for shepherds. There simply is more to ministry than "doing the job". When you are doing YOUR job you are rewarded. In ministry doing the job is not even the base level of commitment. It falls short of the ideal. Spiritual impact demands a quality of live that is deep. The depth of your personal spiritual commitment and experience is the limitation on spiritual leadership.
When there is an issue of integrity, or a shift in vision, a marital problem, or a moral failure, or even a disconnect with people it must be addressed. Even ministers are human and may resist correction or go into a moral tailspin. I have always done everything I could to redeem a situation. Going public with details is not usually the best option to insure repentance nor to guard the feelings and reputations of the innocent. While I am sure you would like to read the juicy details of every disciplinary measure or staff decision, would you want everyone in the church to know what your specific issues are? And would you expect that clamor for details for you specific issues to benefit your family? Your friends? Your marriage? It is safe to say that you probably wouldn't want your dirt shown in public.
Recent staff changes have involved personal decisions on the part of staff members who chose to resign. While I would not ever knowingly deceive the congregation, it has become apparent to me because of recent revelations that statements made by those individuals from the pulpit were not entirely accurate. I apologize for any misleading information that was delivered - but in an effort to save face and/or, cover sin or other failure those individuals gave partial truths. In my estimation that is the same as a deception.
So where do we go from this point? First, there needs to be prayer for the process of searching for men and women of God who will fill those positions. I am thrilled with the addition of Pastor Mike Pawletki to our staff to cover one of those positions. Please pray for him as he steps in to lift the load of the Sr. Pastor. Stephanie Bade will be a great interim children's pastor for us this summer. Please pray for her as well as she attempts to give oversight to this area of church ministry. Also pray for the faithful workers in the children's ministry. Second, recognize that our theme this year is "Following Faithful". I will endeavor to insure that every member of the staff of this church is a) a faithful follower of Christ and b) worthy of being an example worthy of following. I pledge myself to you as the body of Christ to live my life in such a way so as not to embarrass myself, my wife and family, or my LORD and his church. Finally, trust the spiritual leadership of this church. These are men and women who are people of integrity. While none of us is perfect, you would be proud of their faithfulness to scripture and God- even in difficult times. If you cannot trust the leadership of this church then you will have to find a church whose leadership you can trust. I think that my track record of ministry will reveal a record of faithfulness to God and his church.
My hope is that as we move forward from this we will learn the lesson that none of us is immune from sinful pride and error. God is a god of forgiveness but that does not excuse leadership that is without integrity. If we insist upon it in all of our hearts we can be sure that we get it from our leaders. We must not dumb down the calling of pastoral ministry... rather, we must raise the standard for both ourselves and our leaders. If we do that-the church will experience a glorious future visitation of his Holy Spirit. And revival will come- at last.