Theologian N. T. Wright says that even when you are in the Promised Land you are never far from the wilderness. I’m not the only preacher who has pondered how our nation has gone so quickly from the promised land of abundance to a wilderness of economic uncertainty. This recession is a new place for most of us.
I remember a man at a congregation I once served who was an accomplished
house painter and a member of the choir. He was also a man of few
words, but when he spoke I listened. One day he said in passing, "You
know, Ken, on big services like Christmas and Easter, you don't need to
try so hard.
Architect Lewis Mumford argued that the beauty of a particular house
comes from building it on the most challenging feature of the land. If
there is a depression in the land, says Mumford, use it. If a big
boulder lies in the middle of the spot where the kitchen should go, put
the boulder in the kitchen.
When Rick Warren was invited to deliver the invocation at Barack Obama’s inauguration, the choice annoyed some people because of Warren’s conservative position on several important and controversial issues, and it pleased others who either like Warren or like Obama’s ecumenical approach.
Some congregations are increasingly relying on search firms to fill pastoral vacancies. Minister Search, the first such firm, began in 2001. It didn’t have a single client the first year, but now it does searches for 30 to 50 pastoral positions annually. Another firm began in 2010 and has completed 753 placements. Ministerial search firms are particularly popular with independent congregations, which lack a denominational structure for finding candidates. Firms typically charge a congregation about one-third the annual compensation of the hired minister (Chicago Tribune, September 4).