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NOTE: The second in a series of articles regarding why we go, or don’t go to church that began HERE.
My wife and I slipped into the back row…
just before service began for our first visit to the church nearest our new residence.
During the passing of the peace, the lady seated in front of us turned and said, “I see you’re new. You won’t like it here, we don’t like our pastor.”
What a shock!
We never expected such a welcome as visitors.
Another surprise was to notice the sanctuary was almost full. Few empty seats.
Not liking their pastor didn’t seem to hurt attendance.
We found out later, the congregation was evenly split on their preference of pastors. The ones who liked him wanted to show their support and those who did not were on the lookout for any miscues about which they could complain.
Either way, they were present every Sunday.
Over the years it’s been interesting to learn how denominations select pastors.
Oftentimes, the church establishment assigns pastors. The United Methodist Church assigns pastors and typically moves them after five to eight years. Many of the well known religious organizations operate in a similar fashion (Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Episcopal.)
Southern Baptist churches decide locally. When a church has an opening and needs a new pastor, the local church administration creates a “pulpit committee” which visits other churches and auditions the pastor. I suppose having a visit to a church by a pulpit committee is a compliment to the pastor and a warning to the congregation.
Some pastors start their own church.
In south Louisiana(maybe everywhere) there are a number of examples where a pastor started a church and personally owns the real estate. When he says, “That’s my church,” he isn’t speaking figuratively. Guess who calls the shots there?
What about non-denominational churches? My perception is they are “pastor-driven.” Members seem to be attracted to the church because of the pastor.
Are we going to church because of the pastor?
Or do we attend to worship God? If this is our reason, then what difference does it make who the pastor is?
- Oh, the sermons are too long.
- He/she is putting on a show with all the shouting and stomping.
- I don’t like to hear a sermon read to me.
- That sermon was downloaded from the internet.
- He didn’t come see me when I was in the hospital.
- The pacing of the service is too slow. I’m dozing off before the sermon begins.
- He sells cars Monday through Friday.
- She can’t say “God” with more than two syllables.
In the end,
if a pastor/priest’s behavior both in and out of the robes doesn’t meet our approval, is that a satisfactory reason to find another church–or simply stop attending?
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