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March 17, 2009


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I see some real validity in what you've written, but it overlooks at least two things, it seems to me. First, we have a not so silent partner in the process of pastoral placement, the Lord to whom the Church looks for ultimate leadership. Just as different cultures approach the process of selecting marriage partners in different ways through which God works, I believe He also works through the several ways of partnering congregations and pastors. More importantly, if we neglect to seek his wisdom in either process, we will suffer the consequences of “going it alone,” regardless of the method, expertise we tap, or wise counsel we might otherwise seek.

Second, while denominational, conference, or association may provide expert resources, I have also seen them “push” unworthy, unqualified, and even immoral candidates upon congregations. Like political parties and large bureaucracies, church bodies can become more advocates for the professionals and insiders rather than true advocates for the congregations. Perhaps the best outside example of this is the union where, sometimes, the leadership may serve themselves far more than their members and not even recognize the difference.

My sense is that a wise congregation will seek to take the best of both approaches, accessing expertise on the one hand, but also doing their own homework as those upon whom the ultimate responsibility rests. No matter what method is used, careful commitment to seeking God's wisdom and direction is paramount, or none of the rest will matter.

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