Dear Friends, I've been surprised that I've heard no one speak on behalf of the guaranteed appointment. Is there really that much "dead wood" in the ministry? I really don't think so.
Here is what we lose along with the guarantee of a place for ministry:
1. Pastors lose the ability to preach prophetically. Remember what happened to those Southern UM pastors who preached for Civil Rights in the 60's? If you don't, look them up and listen to their stories.
2. Pastors and families will lose their homes. The issues related to parsonages are already difficult. Home ownership will have to become more prevalent, but there will be issues related to selling a home where demand is difficult and buying a home where it is too expensive.
3. Intineracy will be more difficult. Who will want to leave their own home? Who will want to go to a dying church and be seen as a failure by a bishop will can easily turn around and not reappoint you the next year. If no church wants you and the bishop is not motivated to appoint you, what do you think will happen to you and your family?
4. Giving pastors what amounts to yearly-contract employment will increase the insecurity of the pastor's family life. Think pastors are stressed out now?
5. Smaller church pastors and churches will suffer most.
6. For larger churches: do you really think that folks coming off the Cabinet will not take an appointment? In a game of musical chairs, someone always is left without a seat. Who holds the power?
While you may think that not being appointed will not happen to you, there are no checks on the powers of bishops to appoint or not appoint. I don't think I'm the only one who has seen abuse of this power across the country. Perhaps the pastor is seen to be too old, too young, too conservative, too liberal, pro-this or anti-that to be appointable.
Think about it. Even if you work hard and even take no time off and leave little time for the family, if the church fails to grow, it is understood to be the pastor's fault. If the church is toxic, it is seen as the pastor's fault. It is estimated that one in three churches are toxic. Are there really that many ineffective pastors? If not, who will want to serve a toxic church?
Do not tell me it's all about fitting the gifts of the pastor with the needs of the church. Do not tell me it's about being more mission oriented. I've heard it all before. This is not new. What is new is the bigger financial problems of the denomination.
We serve a faithful God who has plans to bring the Kingdom to fruition. Pastors are called to be faithful and to speak the Word of God with clarity and power. The question is what will position pastors to best do that. I sincerely hope you speak out, because it can happen to you.