Thursday, October 1, 2009

Thoughts on Moving for Preachers and Congregations

I resigned from the Central church of Christ in Dalton, Georgia, in March, 1988. I tried to be aware, study, record, and evaluate the process of moving. I wrote several of these observations in our bulletin under "Barber Clippings". I later compiled and wrote an article on the experience.

And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with them, saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us" (Acts 16:9). I‘m certain that I don‘t know everything that was involved, but it sure appears easier for Paul to decide to go to Macedonia than it has been for me to make the moves that I have made in preaching.

I have found little information available on this subject. I have one book and have attended no lectures or classes on being effective in making the decision to move or not to move and how to go about it once the decision has been made.

Since this process usually happens several times during the lifetime of a preacher and over a period of years in the congregation, I hope these observations will be helpful.

After having thoughts from time to time of the possibility of needing to move – beginning about a year before I actually made the change, and discussing these thoughts with my family and a few trusted counselors, I started making a list of people who knew me and my work that would be able to give suggestions and recommendations of places where I might fit.

When I came to the conclusion that I was ready to move from Dalton, Georgia, I began calling these thirty-eight people, asking for their help. After a period of time, I received calls from congregations who were looking for preachers. My decision was to investigate and cooperate with those who expressed an interest, regardless of size or location.

After about eight or nine appointments were made, I told the elderships involved that I would make a decision the last week in May. Some congregations decided that I was not the preacher for that place after I preached and/or interviewed with them. Time became a factor that eliminated some possibilities. I returned to four congregations for more detailed discussions. Stating what I believed to be my strong and weak points, asking and answering more questions, discussing how we thought that the Lord‘s work needed to be done, and how we would work together were the topics of these conversations.

The expenditure in time effort and money was great. I attempted to do all I could in my local work in Dalton in teaching, personal evangelism, counseling, and visiting as well as give honest and complete evaluation to the opportunities of each congregation. My schedule was eleven to twelve working hours per day, seven days a week during March, April, and May. Travel related to relocating totaled 6,691.8 miles in addition to the miles flown.

Expenses (some estimates) were: unreimbursed food and lodging: $63.50; phone calls (friends who could make recommendations of congregations needing preachers, preachers at each congregation for the past twenty years, other preachers and Christians in the same town or community of the church looking for a preacher, plus other references: $359.74; tapes and postage: $63.00; travel (at 20 cents per mile): $1,338.36. Total compensation: $1,195.78. The net cost to me was $628.82.

I am not complaining, just stating some facts that I have not seen in print. A preacher couldn’t make a living trying out. In fact, to do a good job and to be free to investigate, he needs to have some money saved to finance the process. Something that elders might consider is that the way a preacher and his family are treated on the "try out" weekend is loud communication about how it would be living and working with that congregation. We are usually on our best behavior when we are courting. Car doors are rarely opened after the first month of marriage.

1 comment:

Dale's Spot said...

thanks Jerrie - as always you leave me wanting to know more!