Sunday, January 31, 2010

Consider the Inside as Well as the Outside

One of the very helpful nights to me during this transition (this series begins with October 1, 2009 post) was when an eldership agreed to meet with me to tell me why they didn’t want me to be their preacher. We met – at my request – in their building, for them to tell me why I didn’t fit in that congregation and how, from their viewpoint, I could be more effective in my preaching and teaching during the “try out” Sunday. That facet of truth, early in the process, helped me to do a better job of “trying out” with several other congregations.

God teaches in His word that we are to be more concerned with the inside than with the externals. I remember having preached that principle (I Samuel 16:7), but I also recall being so impressed years ago with a new church building and a large Sunday morning attendance that I agreed to move to a congregation where there was clearly not a basis for a good working relationship between me and the elders of that church. They hired me at 9:30 one Wednesday night. After thinking about the heart of the situation as well as the externals, I resigned at 6:00 the next morning. Solomon wrote, “It is better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a wide house shared with a contentious woman” (Proverbs 25:24).

I am thankful for the experience of the months of evaluation of myself and where I needed to be. It was a good opportunity to learn and to test God’s principles.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Do We Fit?

One of the most peaceful principles to me during the time of transition is that God is in control. He loves His church. He loves me. If, as Daniel said (Daniel 2:20-21), He is involved in government changes, I believe that He is also interested and involved in preacher changes as well. What I am to do in all my life is to find His will through following His principles. When I do this, I will have my needs met (Matthew 6:33).

Freedom comes from knowing the truth and cooperating with it (John 8:32). Both the congregation and the preacher need to be joint seekers of truth in the preacher-congregation search. To help in this process, it was my goal to be transparently honest in the interview, revealing my weaknesses and undesirable traits as well as those which look more favorable. When truth is the goal, I‘m not trying to get a job and the congregation which might be interested in me is not trying to hire me. We are searching for the truth, asking God to supply the wisdom (James 1:5), to determine if we should be together or not.

Part of the truth I was seeking during each visit or with any other communication was evaluating the fit between the congregation and me. The prophet Amos asked, "Can two walk together unless they are agreed?" (Amos 3:3). The correct answer is "No". I wanted to know if we fit doctrinally. I also wanted to know if we fit in methods, emphasis, and attitudes.