The hardest job you will ever love: Serving on a Pastor Search Committee

To those who insist Scripture knows nothing about pastor search committees–or any other kind of committee for that matter–we respond, “Scripture was never intended to be a strait jacket hampering the movements and flexibilities of God’s family, but a light to our feet, nourishment to our souls, and the basis for all that we believe.”  Anyone saying committees are not found in the Word might need to be reminded that neither are cushioned pews, stained glass windows, and toilet seats.  But we have them and are glad to do so.

To friends newly assigned to serve on a pastor search committee, we say, “You can influence the direction of your church for generations to come by doing this job well.  It’s a  wonderful, scary assignment. So accept it gladly and go into it humbly.”

First, my credentials for speaking on the subject: In over 55 years of ministry, I have talked with a minimum of 100 pastor search committees.  Some were in an advisory capacity but most were as the object of their inquiry at the moment.  During one three-year period, I counted exactly 36 committees I’d had contact with. (Okay. I was in my early 30’s, on the staff of the greatest church in the state, and most of these contacts consisted of my telling the committee “thank you, but I’m right where the Lord wants me.”)

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My son and how the Lord roped him in!

As we approach Father’s Day, perhaps I could tell you about my number one son from his father’s perspective.  Incidentally, he’s an excellent father himself to Grant, Abigail, and Erin. 

Neil McKeever is a junior.  Joe Neil McKeever, jr., to be exact. He lives in Mobile and works in Pascagoula at the shipyards, in the HR department.  He and Julie and my three grands are faithful members of the great Cottage Hill Baptist Church, and Neil often teaches a Sunday School class.  Julie is the financial secretary for a nearby church.

Neil is a deacon and has been chairman (in their previous church).  He is a singer and has often taken leading roles as singer or narrator in pageants.

But he wasn’t always rightly connected with the Lord.  This is about two instances in his adult life where the Lord stepped in and remedied that. Big time, too.

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For Father’s Day: Most of us have spotted records

….you honor your sons more than Me….” (I Samuel 2:29). Eli was an indulgent father, and God held him accountable for it. 

“O Absalom, my son.  My son, my son Absalom.  Would God I had died in your place!  O Absalom, my son, my son” (2 Samuel 18:33).  David could be a wonderful father at times and an absentee parent at other times.  A lot like us. 

Often when doing the funeral of an older man, I’ll see adult children showing varying degrees of love and sadness and even anger.  So, sometimes in the service I will say, “Fathers are human.  Sometimes they get it right and leave great memories and bless their families.  And sometimes they get it wrong, just as the rest of us do.  May I suggest that you appreciate your dad for what he did right and forgive him for what he failed to get right.  Surely, you will want your children to do that with you.”

Love your dad.  Appreciate what he got right.  Forgive him where he didn’t.

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Does your pastor have an advocate?

“The laborer is worthy of his hire” (Matthew 10:10; Luke 10:7; I Timothy 5:18).  “Those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel” (I Corinthians 9:14).

The pastor deserves a decent income.  That is a given.  It is scriptural and reasonable.

In order to make that happen, some churches need to change their ways.  And for that to occur, every pastor needs an advocate. At least one, and ideally several.

An advocate: Someone who will stand up for him, speak out for him, be his voice.

Yes, we have an advocate in Heaven’s throne room.    “…we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (I John 2:1).  So, in Heaven, One is speaking up for us. Are we blessed or what?

We thank God for Jesus, our Heavenly Advocate.

However….

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When pastors do not know their Bibles

I assume it’s a given that no one knows all the Bible.  And therefore, we can say with a reasonable sense of certainty that while all pastors and Bible teachers know many parts better than others, they know some sections hardly at all. It’s certainly true in my case.  Yours too, I’m guessing.  And that’s what has prompted the following….. 

A pastor said to me, “You can say all you please about your supposed-doctrine of once-saved-always-saved, but my Bible says, ‘The soul that sinneth, it shall die.'”

I responded, “True, it does say that in the Old Testament (see Ezekiel 18:4,20).  But Romans 8:2 says, ‘The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.'”

Here’s what that means to all of us…

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The time I took a $32,000 cut in salary

This is a risky thing to write.  I’m well aware that what is a great salary for one person would be considered starvation wages for another.  But perhaps it’s a story worth telling. 

I’m in my ninth year of retirement now and can look back at some scary moments and see the hand of the Lord at work in dramatic fashion.

Take the time I went from a church paying me $80,000 a year to one offering a $48,000 salary.

“Do preachers ever go to a church that pays less?” people ask.  Sure.  They do it all the time.  In one sense that’s what I did.  In another sense, it’s not even close.

Here’s the story.

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