the bare bones facts

as many of you now know, earlier today bill pruitt resigned as parkview’s senior pastor. this means our church is going to go through changes in the near future. we’ll have to start the process of gathering together church members to form a “pastor search team”, get an interim pastor for awhile, and then go through the whole long process of finding a new pastor. change is usually not fun but not being fun doesn’t mean that good things can’t happen through it.

i’ve been pleasantly surprised by the number of church members asking if pam and i are okay – traslation “are you freaked out and going to leave the church?” i want to say “thanks” for your concern and the answer to your translated question is – pam and i are fine and no we have no plans on leaving parkview within the near future. if you wanted me to stay at parkview then hopefully this is good news. if you wanted me to leave parkview – then i guess it stinks to be you.

parkview is going to go through some changes but we will go through them together – as a family. that’s what families do.

i’m so glad we had this time together …

so here’s why today sucked.

my senior pastor, bill, resigned from our church today. our church has been going through some disagreements for awhile. bill has born the brunt of the disagreements. here’s basically what was going on:

  • our church has a large private school of a little over 1600 kids (talking about the school is a separate issue for me because i basically believe in public education). some years ago the school wiggled out of the church’s direct control.
  • certain individuals wanted to bring the school back under direct church control. other individuals didn’t want that to happen.
  • during this same disagreement one group of people wanted the church to come under pastoral control and another group wanted it to stay congregational in it’s nature.
  • finally there were two other groups: a group that didn’t like the superintendent of the school and a group that didn’t really care for our pastor.
  • all of these groups finally found an issue that they could unite over and fight about – the school and it’s relationship to the church structure.
  • when everyone else chose a side our pastor had too also.
  • then the fight began and some people on both sides were willing to do anything to win. even to the point of questioning the fedility of our pastor’s wife.

the sad thing is that the disagreement has consumed a group of people on each side. most of the other church members couldn’t care less about the whole thing. apparently bill became fed up with the whole thing and decided it was time to go.

so now my church is confused and hurt. allot of people that i love and care about are worried about what is going to happen next. now is when i feel that we, the church staff, have to “shepherd” the most. this is not the first time that a pastor has left over a dispute and it won’t be the last. we have to remind our church members that while it may feel like the “sky is falling” it is in fact not. GOD has not left our church and HE will still do great things in and through it. now is the time to remind people that sometimes families disagree and cruel words are hastily said but in the end we are still family.

so here’s the process for finding a new pastor within a southern baptist church:

  • complete confusion for the first three weeks or so – for good or bad southern baptist churches are very dependent upon the personality of their pastors. most people go to a southern baptist church for one of three reasons: 1) they were raised within that church, 2)they came from another church/city because they liked the present pastor, or 3)because this was the church in which they began their relationship with CHRIST. for a large number of people this means that when a pastor leaves they suddenly find that one of the main reasons that they had been at that church has also left. so this leads to some “sky is falling” “GOD has forsaken” us confusion.
  • after the initial chaos has finished the church slowly starts the process of searching for a new pastor. the first step for the church is that it will pick a group of individuals from within the church who will have the job of searching for a new pastor. this is usually called the “pastor search committee” but can be called anything. for the church staff the first step will be picking one of the staff members to be the staff leader.
  • the first thing the “pastor search committee” will be to search for an interim pastor. the interim pastor will preach on sundays and wednesdays. the “staff leader” will take on the remaining administrative responsibilities of the now departed senior pastor.
  • after the “pastor search committee” finds an interim pastor the group will then move to the process of finding a senior pastor. this begins with getting as many resumes as possible. resumes will be sent in from friends, seminaries, individuals, pastors, etc.
  • once they received the resumes the group will pray over everything and begin to weed through it all. they will narrow the group down and then call and ask if the individual would mind praying about the possibility of discussing this further.
  • after everyone has prayed and some of the individuals have said “yes” the committee will ask for sermon tapes and references. they will listen to the tapes, watch videos of the individuals and search through the references.
  • the group will then pray again and reach a decision to go further with one individual.
  • then the group will deal with this individual until all of the them (the committee and the individual) say “yes” or they say “no”.
  • if it is a “no” then they will go back to the pile of resumes and tapes and start praying again.
  • if it is a “yes” they will bring the pastor in for a weekend for the church to meet the pastor prospect.
  • then the church votes – which is usually, but not always, a forgone conclusions because the church obviously trust the committee, since they picked them.
  • the whole process will probably take 8 months to 2 years.

the good thing is that every interim i have ever been through has been extremely positive. in fact, the interim times have been some of my best experiences within any church.