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First, listen to God. Listen with an open mind to the church members. Be loving. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Each church is different; be willing to do things differently. Everyone does not have to agree all of the time. And, whatever you do, DO NOT micromanage!
This article helpfully addresses the concerns of pastors and their families and bishops and cabinets. But it doesn't address the fact that too-frequent moves leave weak churches in their wake. "Itineracy" may be our heritage, but we need to balance that with the research that shows it takes a 6-10 year pastorate for cultural change to become a "fact" of a church's life. Multi-year appointment "contracts" or "covenants" are one way to address this issue. And it must be addressed if we are serious about building strong local churches.
Being a pk (preacher's kid) of a
Methodist minister, we moved 9 times before I moved out on my own. As
a male with loving parents, I was ready to move on but my sister who
was 4 year younger, found the adjustment sometimes much more difficult.
I've never regretted having to move a number of times in childhood do
to our father's occupation . The churches my father served were
receptive and acted as a second family.
However,having not gone into the ministry myself, hopefully, my major moving days days are over having moved only one time in the last 39 years! Richard Branscomb
I had to laugh when I read "changing their addresses three or four times during their careers."
My father who retired in 1986 moved at least nine times and I am in my mid-50's and have moved six times. Perhaps the folks in the south move less often, but up in the north not only do we typically move more than 3-4 times, but often there is no parsonage and so we have the added stress issues of either renting or buying and then having to sell when appointed someplace else. I totally agree that longer pastorships are needed, but that is not always possible for various reasons.
As both a preacher's kid and as a pastor myself, I have had to learn how to "begin again" and "bloom" at each place. Some places are more challenging than others both as a child and as the pastor.
This is an important article, but it needed this added element on housing other than parsonages.
Rev. Jean Rollin, Common Ground: A UM Community, Cambridge, MN
I am going to say stop moving our pastors so much! As a parishioner I honestly think it is detrimental to the pastor, his/her family, and their flock. Our system seems out of step with the times.
As a minister' kid (PK) then a minister's spouse, and a music minister for over 25 years myself, my motto is "bloom where you are trans-planted!" Each time we moved I was sad to leave some ( not all!) but then I look back and realize how many amazing people I would not have met and experiences I wouldn't have had. Attitude is so crucial to any life experience. And that is entirely the individual's choice...
My father, a UMC pastor, used to say this phrase to me growing up: bloom where you are planted. Now serving in my first appointment at a UMC in Atlantic City, these words mean more to me than ever.
I totally agree with Michael Higgs. Every study tells us that long term pastorates are beneficial to churches. We need to lessen the moves in the itinerant system.
I have served as a pastoral minister for 29 yrs - 5 appointments of varying length: 3 yrs, 4 yrs, 7 yrs, 1 yr and presently in my 14 year. I have come to believe that the UMC needs longer appointments. Also, we need rid ourselves of those bishops who use itinerancy as a punishment or as a means of showing off their "power."
While I understand the need for the
itinerancy system, not being an ordained elder in the UM Church, moves
for ministers will less creditenals can be financially devastating. My
wife is a school teacher, if we were to ask for a move, we have been
told that there are no churches available (not large enough to support a
full time minister or too much of a pay jump if appointed to a larger
church) in our district for someone like myself (associate member.)
That brings up another issue, despite what I have been told about appointments being made based on gifts, time after time appointments at the lower level (full-time and associate members) are made on whatever is left after the more stable and larger churches have been filled by elders and deacons.
It probably sounds like I have a grudge against elders and deacons, not so. Both men and women with these creditenals have sacrificed a lot to get where they are. But the proof is in the pudding. When appointments are made, if an elder is making 40-50,000 in salary, they will not be made to take a church paying less and in most cases would not be made to take on a 2 or 3 point charge to make up this salary package..