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Hey, We’re Going to Steal Your Pastor
Last week my church voted to call a new senior pastor. The man in question has accepted our call. It seems we’re stealing him from another church. I have a question: aren’t there some ethics involved in this?
At last week’s church business meeting, the pastoral search committee moderator (a retired senior police officer) said light-heartedly that some of the committee’s activities had of necessity been kept secret, so that other churches not find out we might be trying to steal their pastor.
It was a long meeting, and towards the end we learned that the man we are calling is just two years or so into a three-year contract with his present church. I don’t know the details of that contract. Maybe it can be cut short at any time. But the impression we gained at the meeting was that he will be breaking his contact to join us.
When someone raised a question about this, a member of the pastoral search committee simply said that, according to its website, the candidate pastor’s present church regularly changed pastors.
Which seems to be saying - if others are doing it, why shouldn’t we?.
What sort of message is that? I send my three kids to Sunday School and church youth group precisely hoping that they will learn about transcendent values, about right and wrong and about not following the ways of the world.
Nine days before the meeting, one of our pastors told the congregation that, some months earlier, God had revealed to him that around Christmas time we would be appointing our new senior pastor, and that the man would be aged 39 (exactly the age of the candidate pastor). And at the meeting, the members of the pastoral search committee spoke in detail of how God had led them to believe this man was the right person for our church.
It would have taken a brave church member to speak out against the man, and few did. The vote in his favour was apparently overwhelming. (For the record, I also voted in his favour.)
Now I know that God can over-rule the law of contracts, not to mention criminal law, natural law and any other law. But I’m not sure that our church should.
I am also uncomfortable that the man we have called is currently pastor of an expatriate church in Asia. I would imagine that such a church might face a long and expensive process in finding and bringing over a new English-speaking pastor.
Frankly, I’m confused.
What does anyone else think?
December 17th, 2002