Either You Trust Me or You Don’t

I wrote a post in February about Church People who trust each other. But this particular post is about whether or not people trust their institutional leaders.

I am a Mid-Council Leader in the Presbyterian Church USA, which – in the eyes of many – makes me immediately suspect. People don’t trust The Institutional Church like we used to.

I know things by virtue of my role. And some of what I know is confidential.

Let’s say that I know a pastor- let’s call this pastor Sydney- and Sydney has a history of making parishioners uncomfortable because Sydney thinks that sexual innuendo is hilarious. Charges have never been filed against Pastor Sydney so nothing shows up on criminal or disciplinary checks.  Pastor Sydney also has a secret home in the mountains that even his family doesn’t know about and a side job raising chinchillas in the basement of the manse.

It’s possible that I would share with a Pastor Search Committee that there are flashing yellow lights concerning Pastor Sydney. This suggests a serious cautionary note about moving further in considering Pastor Syd to be your minister.

NOTE:  I made all that up.  None of it is true. But if it were true, please believe me when I share that Pastor Sydney might not be a good match for you.

We don’t have bishops in my tradition and I do not match churches and pastors.

Jobs are not guaranteed for clergy in my denomination. And while I can share information I know from talking with my counterparts, that information will be vague if there are issues. #Lawsuits

It’s very rare for me to say to a pastor search committee: “This person cannot be your pastor.” Usually there are signs that a particular candidate may not be the right pastor for your wonderful church. But it’s often not my decision.

Sometimes . . .

  • Congregations do not care that their potential pastor has anger issues/a trail of strange behaviors/unusual hobbies that feel icky. They just want somebody to be their leader as soon as possible.
  • Congregations still pick leaders who physically “look like a pastor” but do not have the skills they need in a pastor.

I’m excited to work with you and your church. Your congregation deserves great leadership and we will work together to make that happen by God’s grace.

A great match is a holy thing. Congregational leaders and denominational can do this together but we need to trust each other.

You either trust me or you don’t.  But the truth is that I want your congregation to thrive in the name of Jesus Christ.

Image is Creation of Man by Chagall (1958)

2 responses to “Either You Trust Me or You Don’t

  1. Has a church or presbytery ever used a “blind” matching tool to develop an initial pool of candidates? I am thinking particularly about the H-Factor, which profiles many qualities that churches say they want in a candidate. They may be surprised at who might be a good fit for them!


    • Hi diakanos2020. I’d say that what we have now is not blind. Names are attached- which might tap into some PNC’s bias if the name isn’t European sounding. But the current is definitely not how many churches find their pastors. PNCs depend on recommendations from other pastors, friends, etc. it’s often who you know.


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