April 18, 2012

Hey, I Thought We All Itinerated?

I remember our first appointment when we were told we were going to move. I was happy to move out of the drafty parsonage and had high hopes that the next place would be better for me, our newborn baby, and my spouse. I took solace in the fact that, while difficult, moving was part of the life we had chosen. It was a price of serving God in the Church. Then I began learning how things really happened and that not all pastors were sent--some were called.

At first I was angry. As in most conferences, the bulk of churches in our conference are small. And I thought the whole idea was to grow a church, increase its ministry to the community and make a difference in the world, so that a small church could become (maybe not a megachurch) but at least a larger church. Our first appointment was a medium-sized church that acted like a small church. Part of our task was to help them actualize their potential and we did.

What I learned, however, was that the very large churches on our conferences basically told the bishop who they wanted as a pastor. And often several pastor "candidates" would actually go interview for the job. I can't tell you how this made me feel. It seemed to me that some churches were cheating. How could they call themselves UM and call their pastor?

Now, rather than get angry or feel self-righteous, I just shake my head and smile. Many times when these churches bring a pastor in from another conference, they are no better off. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Still when churches call their own pastor, I think it must have something go do with hubris. The fact that the bishop and Cabinet let churches get away with this, only says that they are afraid. The fact that our Church is a two-tiered system harms all churches.

I guess it's hard to be idealistic and work in the Church for long.



  1. A system works for all only if all play by the rules. That includes Bishops and District Superintendents. If the system is not working, that needs to be changed for all, not just for a few.

  2. The system is not fair. Buddies of DS and Bishops are at churches making 6 figures or if a pastor has left a huge church after making a heck of a salary for 15+ years, then the system creates a whole new job just for that person? This happens more often than you think.
    The rules are broken for the elite and used as a club for those who don't have the right pedigree.