John 10 and Psalm 23 are the “Good Shepherd” passages in the Bible. Jesus says in John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” These passages are well known and are prone to warm our hearts upon reading and hearing. Yet we also try to translate them into the vernacular.
In 2020 we are without a full time pastor/shepherd. And while we hope and pray our leadership in the church is able to wisely discern and select for us a new pastor/shepherd, we are asking ourselves questions:
--Question #1: What are the needs of our church family as we move forward into the future? Is visitation important? Is preaching important? Is education important? Is technology an important ingredient to consider moving forward? Is the music ministry important and what if any is the role of the pastor? Is compassion for the elderly and grief ministry important? Is outreach to bring back younger families an important consideration?
--Question #2: What are the traits of a bad pastor/shepherd? Poor liturgist. Poor preacher of the Word. Poor teacher. Poor communication. Not a listener. Not godly or Christ centered. Controller. Manipulator. Liar. Not trustworthy. No integrity. Doesn’t care what happens. Not there when needed. Lazy. Theologically incorrect. Poor judgement. Too young. Too old. Too short. Too tall. Too fat. Too skinny. Too unkempt. Too polished. Too ugly. Too good looking. Smoker. Drinker.
--Question #3: What are the traits of a good pastor/shepherd? According to our scriptures, a good shepherd has the goal of protecting the sheep/people. A good shepherd is willing to lay down their life for the sheep/people. A good shepherd follows in the way, the truth, and the life.
These are biblical guidelines. The task of the Interim Pastor to “fast pastor.” During this interim period, it gives the congregation time to understand that every pastor is different and brings different gifts according to the Spirit. It is a time to comprehend that God is working something new, but assuring us that all is well. At the same time, the church's leadership is able to confidently and viably circumspect themselves while receiving observational advice from a competent experienced professional member of the clergy.
An important ingredient in this process is for the entire congregation to be in daily prayer. God is not only listening to us in our prayers but God is discerning our will and our heart. Like the Old Testament people of God, the Lord is willing to teach us lessons if our heart is not expressed in livelihood. And here we go back to the all-inclusive powerful teaching: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (John 13:34)
Your Interim Pastor is not involved in selecting a new pastor. However, the awesome task of discerning a new pastoral leader can be daunting. Thus, Dave Cleveland, Dave Tindell, and Julie Telitz need your insights and spiritual guidance as they prepare an updated Congregational Mission Profile. May God bless us in this journey of calling a new pastor!
Blessings to all, and be safe!