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Author Topic: "The Practice of Ministry"  (Read 5483 times)

Brian Hughes

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Re: "The Practice of Ministry"
« Reply #30 on: September 07, 2005, 05:42:25 PM »

 As per incompetant pastors asigned by a bishop as interim ... let's just say the clergy shortage and highly dysfunctional small congregations who kept demanding a pastor ... occasionally were given an interim with a history of failure who likewise continued demanding a placement..  Was it by design or the Holy Spirit or bringing together like minded Christians, I leave it to others to discern.  But yes, I can attest it happens.  And the consequences before and after were discussed at synod staff meetings.

You have to remember that congregations don't have to take the interim given them by their bishop or their delegated staff person.

Brian H.

Charles_Austin

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Re: "The Practice of Ministry"
« Reply #31 on: September 07, 2005, 07:40:29 PM »
And someone thinks that *I'm* "patronizing"!


Gladfelteri

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Re: "The Practice of Ministry"
« Reply #32 on: September 07, 2005, 08:24:04 PM »
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Pr. Hughes and Bp. Gladfelter, Why might a pastor be an "interim" pastor, who's been in the ministry for decades, and is not (apparently) in the process of retiring?  I suppose there could be good and respectable reasons for it, but I have seen some pastors who seem to float from one congregation to another to another to another in that role, because they cause a mess wherever they go, and/or no congregation simply wants them around very long.
Well, I suppose some interim pastors might fit that description.  But most of the interim pastors I have known were very good at what they did - providing for a smooth transition between more long-term pastorates, especially in "difficult" congregations.  I would almost go so far as to consider this somewhat of a "specialized ministry."  And a respected one at that.

I do think it is inappropriate to use as a routine assignment for those difficult to place.  Sometimes you might want some of your better people there. . . sometimes . . .

Personally I am neutral on "interim pastors."  I would not use that term, per se, nor would + Nguyen or I issue a regular call under the position of "Interim Rector."  It would be a regular call to serve as a "priest-in-charge" -  and for a set term - to be renewed at the pleasure of the bishop upon consultation with the congregation until a call would be issued for a permanent Rector.  I suppose some of this is a semantics thing.  And since an ECCL bishop can over-ride a congregation's call committee in cases of an impasse, and issue a regular call to a priest of his own  choice for that parish (as is the case in the RC Church) I can only imagine using an "interim appointment" as a transitional call in a difficult parish or following a popular pastor who was, "a hard act to follow," after whom anyone would be likley to be measured against for good or for ill.

No strong feelings here either way.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2005, 10:05:05 AM by Gladfelteri »

Gladfelteri

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Re: "The Practice of Ministry"
« Reply #33 on: September 07, 2005, 08:27:09 PM »
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I do not want to step in on the debates between Charles Austin and Irl Gladfelter, but I have known too many qualified, quality interim pastors to let this comment pass.  Interim pastors are --
 I wasn't aware that I was in a debate with Charles on this point.   ???

As I said, a lot of what he writes is really interesting  :)
« Last Edit: September 07, 2005, 08:28:04 PM by Gladfelteri »

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: "The Practice of Ministry"
« Reply #34 on: September 08, 2005, 10:08:22 AM »
A friend, who is an intentional interim pastor in the PCUSA, says that when she goes into an interim situation, there is a definite time limit, usual 18 or 24 months. There is a contract that includes particular goals to accomplish during that time. Normally, one of the goals is a congregational self-study. Others have been things like the formation of working committees.

The PCUSA interim system seems to me to be much better defined and organized than what I've seen in the ELCA.
Brian Stoffregen
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Charles_Austin

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Re: "The Practice of Ministry"
« Reply #35 on: September 08, 2005, 10:43:25 AM »
What you described is essentially what is happening in my interim. Intentional goals. Specific period of time. Congregation to come to terms with some specific issues.
The interim is supposed to help them do this, then get out of the way.

CMA

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: "The Practice of Ministry"
« Reply #36 on: September 08, 2005, 03:28:27 PM »
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What you described is essentially what is happening in my interim. Intentional goals. Specific period of time. Congregation to come to terms with some specific issues.
The interim is supposed to help them do this, then get out of the way.

My impression is that all of the interims I have followed as the called pastor where there "not to rock the boat." There were no intentional goals. They were not much more than pulpit supply, not leading the congregation in any direction, but helping them pass the time while the Call committee did their job.

As I said, I don't think that intentional interim ministries are well-defined in the ELCA. Each synod seems to approach them slightly differently. (They also approach calls in different ways, too. Some synods only give a congregation one name. If they decide, "no," they'll get a second name. Other synods give four or more names. In some synods a pastor can have his/her name in consideration at only one congregation at a time. Other synods will put a pastor's name in a number of congregations where there might be a "fit".)
« Last Edit: September 08, 2005, 03:28:56 PM by Brian_Stoffregen »
Brian Stoffregen
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Gladfelteri

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Re: "The Practice of Ministry"
« Reply #37 on: September 16, 2005, 08:57:10 AM »
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What you described is essentially what is happening in my interim. Intentional goals. Specific period of time. Congregation to come to terms with some specific issues.  The interim is supposed to help them do this, then get out of the way.
This sounds like interim ministry at its best.  :D

Charles_Austin

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Re: "The Practice of Ministry"
« Reply #38 on: September 16, 2005, 11:28:12 AM »
Again, all the interims I have known about or had a hand in definitely involved "rocking the boat." Sometimes an interim has to be like the army Rangers or Delta Force, hitting hard at a dangerous target.


Gladfelteri

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Re: "The Practice of Ministry"
« Reply #39 on: September 16, 2005, 12:53:49 PM »
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Again, all the interims I have known about or had a hand in definitely involved "rocking the boat." Sometimes an interim has to be like the army Rangers or Delta Force, hitting hard at a dangerous target.
Again, this is interim ministry at its best !  :D

Dennis

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Re: "The Practice of Ministry"
« Reply #40 on: September 17, 2005, 06:50:36 AM »
An interim pastor can make a real difference to the next pastor arriving on the scene, especially when that interim follows a long-term pastorate.  In my view, the best interims are those who have so "rocked the boat" that they are disliked when they leave.

I also believe that an interim needs to speak the truth and tell it like it is.  

But, it is also true that an interim needs to be fully supported by the bishop and synod staff, so that the council and president are simply told, unless the interim is breaking the law or violating morality, don't call us.
We fully support the changes being made.

Having been a long-term pastor and following now a long-term pastor, I can compare both interims.  The interim who followed me did a much better job of letting my former congregation know that things were now different and would remain so.  He was able to help the associate pastor understand why she should leave and make things new for my successor.  Unfortunately for me and the congregation here, that did not happen. It took quite a while for the associate here to move on.

There may be some reading this who would now ask, why was it so important for the associates to move on?  I supoose that is stuff for another thread.

Charles_Austin

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Re: "The Practice of Ministry"
« Reply #41 on: September 17, 2005, 06:54:28 AM »
Actually, I think that in a mult-staff situation; when the senior leaves, all should leave; or at least submit their resignations to the new person.

Brian Hughes

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Re: "The Practice of Ministry"
« Reply #42 on: September 17, 2005, 08:39:51 AM »

 Only someone who has never led a large multi-staff congregation would  make such a foolish statement that "everyone should go" when the Lead Pastor moves on.

Maybe they should go, maybe not, but the real issue is whether the Lead Pastor has the authority to hire and fire.  If so, then it also means the Lead Pastor has the authority to create and manage the staff team.  He or she can and should make those decisions on a regular basis.  "Are the gifts and talents and training that brought us to this point what we will need into the future?"  In other words, there should be no reason for everyone to officially offer their resignation if the in-coming lead already has that authority.

 The larger the ministry, the greater the need for coordinative authority by paid staff.  Simply removing staff because the Lead is leaving puts all of the ministry at risk.  Then again, that's assuming the Lead or Senior Pastor knows how to manage staff.  That is a skill set not taught in seminary.  Or any other ELCA program other than a yearly meeting for pastors of large congregations.

And, as a more important aside, this issue is, IMHO, the primary problem with our model constitution.  And it's the likely reason the vast majority of our congregations are small and declining.

Brian H.


Dennis

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Re: "The Practice of Ministry"
« Reply #43 on: September 17, 2005, 08:54:26 AM »
The authority to hire and fire is more than simple permission from the congregation council.  It always means weighing whether or not the new "lead" pastor wants to be responsible for alienating the groups that are friends and supporters of the other staff person.  
Coming into a congregation after a long-term pastor is often upsetting enough, let alone alienating people who can't believe that anyone would want to see "Dear Pastor ........" leave our church.  She is such a wonderful person!  She held this congregation together between pastors and is so loving and caring."  

So the new "lead" pastor, besides walking in the sainted footsteps of Pastor ........., who served here almost 20 years, has to put up with Pastor.......because that boat was never rocked during the interim, even as the former pastor and interim both said that a change of staff would be very good for all involved.

Never again!!


Samuel_Zumwalt

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Re: "The Practice of Ministry"
« Reply #44 on: September 17, 2005, 10:27:02 AM »
Very large congregations, of which there are very few in the ELCA and LCMS, typically have an administrative pastor or parish administrator that reports to the primary preacher/lead pastor.  This buffer can be very effective so that hiring and firing decisions can be made without the emotional "sturm und drang" related to hiring and firing getting tied to the preacher/lead pastor.
Larger congregations need longer lead pastorates to thrive but typically are tied to small church governance models that don't work in larger churches.  Typically Lutheran congregations opt for councils that manage daily operations rather than a board of directors that oversees and sets policy.

Because Lutherans are trained to be small to mid-sized parish caregivers, this large church model is hard to implement even in many larger Lutheran congregations.  Typically, associate pastors have been trained to expect to preach every other week in all the worship services and to expect to have the "ministry portfolio" evenly shared.  Typically, there is a failure by congregations to distinguish between the need for one lead pastor to exercise authority and the perception that one pastor is wielding too much power.  This typically leads to the common fuzziness called "co-pastors".

Where new lead pastors are saddled with continuing staff that are not open to a new vision, there will typically be only maintaining what is.  Where lead pastors are burdened by small church models of staff hiring and firing, it will be difficult to build a good team.  In the small church model of hiring and firing, the lead pastor is often faced with new hires that want to re-write their job descriptions and implement their own utopian visions.  That lead pastor needs an administrator that can take the heat of letting people go quickly when it becomes apparent they are not a good fit with the lead pastor's vision.

As Brian H. was pointing out, it is not necessary to completely start with a new slate every time there is a lead pastor change.  But there needs to be clarity that they continue to serve at the pleasure of the lead pastor.

This thinking is so foreign to Lutheran congregations and one reason why our congregations are continuing to shrink.  Our traditional governance models work fine in most small to midsized congregations but not in larger churches.

Small to midsized congregations are necessary in many rural and small town ministry contexts.  But the necessary question that typically escapes most Lutheran bishops and mission directors is: "why do we need so many congregations in metropolitan areas?"  The answer is that we are tied to small and midsized models that are appropriate where the population is not large and tied to training pastors for this type of ministry.  

Lutheran congregations are aging and shrinking in most places because we are tied to old models that no longer work and tied increasingly to liberation theology.