(Editor’s note: Pr. Preus’ spot in the Brothers’ Cafe has several posts about synodical restructuring that you may want to re-read.)
One upon a time there was pastor. He had been leading a church for a half a dozen years or so when he started hearing grumbling and complaining.
“The church isn’t growing,” some were saying. “We called you because you were a missionary pastor with a mission heart and we have lost more members during your tenure than any other time in history.”
Others complained because of the church’s finances. “We used to be solvent, in the black and supporting all sorts of educational and missionary endeavors. Now we are always nagging people for money, cutting back on all but administrative staff and basically paralyzed financially”. “You were supposed to move us forward in terms of stewardship and we are worse off than ever.”
Still others were concerned over questionable personnel decisions to which the pastor had acquiesced. Some even suspected he was directly responsible. They had issues with the decision to fire certain popular and effective evangelists who were now working elsewhere. There seemed to be a “brain-drain” on the church’s most valuable resource; her leaders. Former council members and board members were unused or quietly sent away. Others were criticized and accused. The pastor seemed to be comfortable working with only his closest and most supportive friends. Anyone who was not a crony of the pastor was unused in the church. People complained that the pastor and leaders, while claiming to put Jesus First, were mostly putting themselves first. The pastor who claimed vision seemed painfully short-sighted.
A mood of darkness pervaded the congregation.
The pastor was worried. “What shall I do?” He thought. “I could actually lose my job over this lack of success. I’m too old to go back into the parish and too proud to be any other kind administrator. I know what I will do! I will suggest that we change the bylaws. We’ll have an entire restructuring of the congregation. Maybe I can convince the people that the real problem is not my lack of leadership and vision. Yeah that’s it! I’ll appoint a committee of my best and most trusted friends and allies in the church and we can debate our structure. Maybe then people will forget that we are failing in our mission, in stewardship, in achieving unity and in just about every other measurable aspect of the church’s work.”
So the pastor appointed a committee and gave it a long and impressive name which people had a hard time even remembering and he asked this committee to come up with all sorts of ideas to change the structure of the congregation.
But evangelists still were silenced. Finances were still tight. The congregation was still shrinking and continued to be divided. People were worried, even alarmed. And most thought that a discussion on bylaws and structure was not the solution to the profound problem of leadership that faced the church.
He who has ears to hear. Let him hear.