Monthly Archives: March 2009

Help Wanted – Need Perfect Pastor!

Looking for a new pastor is a tough dance for both a church and potential candidates. While it is a job, being a pastor is a very intense, personal occupation. Many churches and pastors put on their best behavior. But what may be needed is more candor. I have been thinking about this after a discussion with some other students at Union-PSCE.

Here’s a list of questions that I would consider asking  if I was seeking a position at a church.

1.) Tell me a little bit about the history of the church.

2.) What is the distinctive flavor or character of the church today compard to others in the area?

3.) What are the circumstances that led to the church having this position that needs to be filled?

4.) What do you envision as the requirements for this position? Goals for the first two years? Expectations?

5.) How exactly do the spouses of the other pastors currently serve in the church? Expectations regarding the spouse’s involvement?

6.) How do you go about ensuring the emotional, spiritual and relational health of the church staff?

7.) What is the governance of the church? Who are the key decision makers?

8.) What is the leadership’s five year vision for the church? What about ministries that I would be responsible for overseeing?

9.) How do you see me fitting in with the long-term vision of the church?

10.) Please describe the community life of the city and surrounding area?

11.) Who directly would I report to and what level of access would I have to other key leaders?

12.) If you could wave a wand and change anything about this church, what would it be?

13.) What are the salary and benefit options available for this open position? 

14.) Who are the major spiritual influences in the lives of the key pastors and church leaders? What books are some of the other pastors currently reading?

15.) What is the statement of faith and code of conduct that I would be expected to agree to as part of my employment?

16.) When was the last time that the church made a major change prompted by the Holy Spirit? What was that change?

17.) Describe the ministry of the predecessor. What worked? How could things have been better? 

18.) How quickly are you looking to fill this position?

19.) How is the church being strategic about turning members into disciples of Jesus?

20.) Who are the existing champions and non-church staff involved with the ministries that I would be overseeing? Once you are far enough through the interview process, I would try to informally meet some of these people with the church’s permission and assistance.


Generational Disconnect

There’s a big hole in the middle of most churches and nobody seems to want to talk about it. Oh, there are a few who get it. But there are so many that refuse to face the future and the past. And if we don’t do something about it, we’ll all miss out on what could be something beautiful.

I am talking about the disconnect between generations. It seems like youth culture changes every year. Technology is driving a wedge between many parents and children. From the greatest generation to the baby boomers to gen-x to the millenials, each new demographic seems to be further from the other.  But the truth is that we need each other more and more.

Teenagers need godly adults who will demonstrate a dynamic faith, committed relationships and strong morals. Authorities need to live in such a way that those underneath them willingly submit to their leadership. At the same time, younger generations needs to realize that not everything worth knowing came about in the last few years. We  need to appreciate the legacy and lessons of those who have gone before us, and we need to learn that not everything is handed to us. Sometimes hard work and failure is the necessary path to success and accomplishment.

We could learn a lot from each other if we would only stop and consider what other generations have to offer. I have been thinking about this generational disconnect after reading an article in Harvard Business Review. The February issue featured a case study on generation-y in the workplace. I thought the article really nailed the core issues.

Older generations feel that younger workers don’t respect authority and are impatient. They see the younger generation as pampered needing quick praise and fast opportunities for advancement. Younger people feel like they are closer to culture and know what works today in terms of marketing and technology. They feel like the older leaders won’t listen to them. They are bored at work and feel like they have sold out their dreams for a paycheck and an opportunity sometime in the very distant future.

Obviously, the above is a gross generalization. But it happens to be true in many organizations, churches and businesses. The fact is that change is moving at such a pace now that young blood is needed to stay current. At the same time, younger people are not learning valuable skills at home that they can pickup from older people if the proper relationships can be fostered. This is hard for many business environments where competition can become a major concern. But it should be a non-issue in churches. Sadly, churches may be just as competitive as Wall Street.

Here’s my challenge to those who read this. Over the next month, connect with someone knew who is from a different generation than you. Be intentional about it. See what you can give, learn and experience. You’ll probably be glad you did.

Harvard Business Review article on generation-y.

Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle made some great points about the future church leaders.

What’s Your 1 Thing?

Today a fellow believer and youth worker asked me, “Chaille, what’s your one thing? What’s the one thing you were put on this planet to do?”

It was a great question. Honestly, I have wrestled with this question for years. It goes beyond simply what you do at work. This is a huge question because there are so many areas of life – family, work, ministry, friendships, community, etc.

Do we really have on central mission in life? Is each one unique?

I have to think about this question a bit and will get back to you with what I find.

Transition Is Like Jello

Transition is an inevitable, necessary and sometimes unbearable part of life. It seems that ever since puberty my life has been filled with transition. Sometimes it feels like I’m living out of a suitcase for long periods of time. I have found that changes that hit us by surprise are harder to deal with than life stage shifts that we see coming.

I have been thinking a lot about transition lately. It all started when a very good friend moved to Nashville in August. Transition intensified with the weddings of two good friends in November. I was the best man in each one. Then I had the revelation last semester that I wasn’t cut out for a PhD program unless I dropped everything else to focus on it. Thus a dream of sorts died.

In December I learned that one of my best friends was transferring to California due to sudden change at his company. He had to either move or face the prospects of unemployment.

Two more friends have left my church leaving me with less connectivity there than I have had in years.

Over the last two years, a number of the students that I have worked with very closely have gone off to college or entered new stages of their lives. Our relationships have changed, which is a blessing because this shows they are doing well on their own. But at the same time, it gets tough realizing that you have worked yourself out of a job.

A good friend died suddenly in late December. Attending her funeral was one of the toughest things I have done over the last several years.

Alex, the missionary who has been staying at my house over the last year or so, is just about ready to go back to the mission field. While I am very glad for him and want to see him go fulfill his call, I will miss the lad.

And last week I learned that the youth pastor at my church, a friend and fellow youth worker, is leaving to take on a  fantastic ministry opportunity in Florida.  I will miss Dave, but I wish him the best and believe that his new church is getting one heck of a communicator.

Hopefully this litany of experiences shows you that I certainly understand what it means to be in flux. To top it all off, I am not sure what direction I want to go in at this point. I feel like a bowl of jello just waiting to be pushed in one direction or the other.

All of this reminds me of one of my favorite movie quotes. The narrator said in Stand By Me, “Friends come in and out of your life like busboys in a restaurant.”  I have sure found this to be true and am okay with that reality. I occassionalyy talk with only a handful of people that I knew in college or high school. It is amazing how time can create distance between people who used to be very close.

I have learned a few guiding principles that make transition easier. If you are like me and know what it feels like to be surrounded by boxes of unpacked stuff, then maybe these thoughts will help.

  • Transition and change is inevitable. You can either embrace it or fight a losing battle.
  • Transition isn’t personal. It just happens. Don’t be surprised when people come and go. That is the natural cycle of life. Don’t feel like you are being abandoned because they probably aren’t leaving because of you.
  • The above statement is true for people in professional ministry. The average pastor doesn’t stay put for long. Don’t be surprised if they move or even change professions. It is very hard to be a pastor.
  • I have learned to hold my friends and relationships loosely. This means that I value them enough to see them go forward in whatever God has for them. I celebrate God’s work in their lives even if it means that I may feel distant from them.
  • Embrace moments with those you love because you don’t know when you will get the chance to have those moments again. This means when it snows… go make a snowman or get in a snowball fight.
  • Keep in contact with distant friends but don’t be a menace. Everybody needs their personal space. Yet it is always nice to know that others are praying for you and thinking about you.
  • Help your friends as they transition. This includes helping them pack, clean up, paint the house, etc. It conveys how much you care, and I have found it helps you feel better about the transition.
  • I pray blessings on my friends even those who I haven’t talked with in a long time.
  • Finally, I may blog or write about a friendship. Mostly this information is private. I use it to help me remember all of those who have impacted my life and what I have learned from them.

Hopefully, these thoughts will help you jiggle in the right direction when you feel like a bowl of jello.

Driscoll on the DL

Mark Driscoll, one of my favorite Internet preachers, recently went on CNN with D.L Hughely. The interview was funny and on point. While the conversation went to adult topics, I felt that Mark handled himself well.

Good to see some non-wacko preachers get air time on TV.

Spending $1,000 Dollars to Watch Internet TV for Free on My TV

Yesterday, I drank the koolaide and finally gave in and bought a Mac. Actually, I bought a Mac Mini. The device was easy to setup. The interface seems more intuitive than I thought it would be.

I discovered that what I hated about Macs whenever I tried one in the past was the keyboard and mouse. I don’t like the new Mac laptop mouse controls. My friend has one, and I always end up doing things that I didn’t intend on doing. Mac accessories have always seemed overpriced to me. And I don’t like how Apple keyboards feel.

The nice thing about a Mac Mini is that it can work with virtually any keyboard and mouse. It is small and packs a lot of power for the size. A Mac Mini can be easily transported or integrated into many different configurations. Specifically, I have wired my new Mac Mini into my TV. This allows me to watch online videos and TV shows streaming off the Internet. It is a much better experience than watching Hulu, or Netflix on my laptop. I am using a wireless mouse and keyboard to make my TV a true message/computer/entertainment application.

I thought about buying an Apple TV and using  a bootloader to allow me to get beyond Apple’s proprietary iTunes controls. But this would still give me less options and functionality than buying a Mac Mini. Plus, I have always wanted to try a Mac, and the Mac Mini is the cheapest way to do that with the most multi-application possiblities.

So far, so good. By the time I got everything for the Mac Mini, I paid about $1,000. I plan on using this setup for quite a while. As I play with it more, I will let everyone know what I think.

The koolaide seems pretty good right now. But you never know if it will leave a bad after taste in my mouth.